Released in 2007 on PSP in Japan, before arriving here the following year, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a prequel to Final Fantasy VIIthe famous RPG by Tetsuya Nomura and Square Enix from 1997. The latter is currently experiencing a multi-part remake the first of which, Final Fantasy VII Remake, has been available since 2020 on PS4 and 2021 on PS5 and PC. While waiting for the second, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which should arrive for the winter of 2023, it is therefore interesting to look into previous eventswith Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, the remaster of the PSP game, which arrived on December 13, 2022 on PS5, PS4 and PCbut also Xbox Series, Xbox One and Switch. Indeed, it allows to know better Shinra and key SOLDIER membersespecially Zack, of course, but also Sephiroth and Angeal, while traveling through well-known locations in Midgar and coming across various characters from Final Fantasy VII.
Become a hero
The events of Crisis Core unfold 5 years before those of Final Fantasy VII that revolve around Cloud, the former SOLDIER who entered the resistance. Here we follow the rise of Zack Fair, SOLDIER 2nd Class, on his way to the next rank, and who intends to become a hero. The elite unit of SOLDIER, accompanied by special agents of TURK, is responsible forkeep Midgar and Shinra safe, the all-powerful corporation that hires them. The latter in fact distributes energy thanks to theexploitation of the Mako, a considerable resource extracted from the earth that it sends to its reactors. But not everyone is in favor of his supremacy, of purely economic ambitions, or of his unnatural experiments. Zack, supported by his mentor Angeal, has to end the Wutai War who stands against Shinra. But another threat looms: SOLDIERS have disappeared, including First Class Genesis and soon to be Angeal himself. Zack will therefore have to find out why. Which will lead him to discover the mysterious project G which seems to be the keystone of it all.
This episode is an opportunity to rediscover Midgar and the places already visited in Final Fantasy VIIsuch as the Shinra tower, Sector 5, the Mako reactors… There are also the iconic characters crossed in the game: Cloud, Aerith, and even, quickly, Tifa, but also members of Shinra, like Director Lazard, Professor Hojo, the hero SOLDIER Sephiroth, or even Tseng, Reno, Rude and Cissnei from the TURKs. The nostalgic fiber necessarily works wonderfully. We recognize at first glance each place and each individual, even if, graphically, we are not at the same level. It is, indeed, here, only a remaster, and not a remake. He claims, of course, to be more than that, and it is true that the work done is of very good quality with a more than honorable resultbut it is necessarily positioned a notch below Final Fantasy VII Remake. The movements are a bit jerky, the faces and some backgrounds lack detail, but it’s very clean. The title also benefits beautiful reflection effects, and cutscenes are lovelyeven spectacular.
Honor above all
The atmosphere is therefore there, whether in Japanese or English, subtitled in French, with the classic values of the license highlighted (honor, pride, courage, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, etc.). And the app was able to carry us awaywith her still delectable soundtrackeven if the game accuses the years. We indeed observe places that are very sparsely populated, with characters that do not always seem to be really endowed with life, environments that are sometimes quite empty too, and cards whose size is particularly small, making it necessary to regularly change areas. There’s nothing dramatic about it, but we’re a long way from today’s open worlds. This observation can also be made at the level of enemies who pop only for clashes. The cutscenes are also not in line with the action and those used during the fights exploit always the same scenery, regardless of where you are, too bad. Note also, anecdotally, the presence of cathode ray screens and flip phones that show that the game was developed 15 years ago.
The same is true for gameplay. Apart from a few mini-games, like the squat duels already practiced in Final Fantasy VII, the title relies heavily on its real-time battlesbut the options offered remain minimal. More variety in shots would have been nice. So, of course, there is the management of materials that we can alternate and evolve, as well as combine to obtain new results, but that remains limited. Nevertheless, we get caught up in the game and that we still chain with pleasure the enemies that thewe beat with great reinforcements of skills and magic, without forgetting to resort to parry and dodging. It is then a question of managing its magic points (MP) and its attack points (AP), but it is always possible to fill the gauge with vials, just like for the points of life (PV). In any case, combat is dynamic and engaging, but still repeats a loteven if the type of adversaries is regularly renewed.
As impatient as a puppy
Where there would be fault, on the other hand, is on the use of the OCN (Digital Brain Wave), a kind of roulette that you feed thanks to your SOLDIER points (PS) and which displays numbers and portraits. When the same result is obtained three times, this grants advantages (cost in PM or AP zero, invincibility, physical or magical invulnerability…), or allows you to use transcendence to land powerful blows, or even summon espers like Ifrit, or Tonberry. This random dimension, even if we can play on luck thanks to materia, is debatable, because it can completely reverse the meaning of a fight. But it also has an interesting side, in the sense that thewe hope to hit the jackpot, which puts a little spice in the clashes, even if you can be angry at not getting what you want. Finally, during somewhat tense fights, which is not necessarily always the case, the challenge can be eradicated by the principle of secondary missions.
If the story itself is not not very long (about ten hours across 10 chapters), the few 300 side missions proposed clearly lengthen the life of the game. But these have two disadvantages. On the one hand, their very high repetitiveness (facing groups of opponents in environments that are always similar) and their very low interest (not to say, most of the time, non-existent) does not make them particularly attractive. And, on the other hand, using it not only allows climb in levels, but also greatly improve its power thanks to the objects found in the chests and the rewards obtained. So much so that the other missions will quickly become very easywith a few rare exceptions which do not prevent and which require further improvement, and that thewe’ll ride through history without a hitch, with very often one shots as the only fight if you advance too quickly in the secondary missions. There is therefore clearly a difficulty balancing problem if we use missions too muchbut these are sometimes necessary to obtain new skills or new slots to equip materia or other accessories.
- The universe and the characters of FF7
- Beautiful cutscenes
- A nice touch of graphic polish…
- Dynamic and engaging combat…
- The soundtrack
- A rather short story
- The title still shows its age
- …but not as much as the FF7 remake
- …but which suffer from a lot of repetition
- Secondary missions without real interest
Finding Final Fantasy VII and diving back into its universe while waiting for the sequel to the remake, while expanding the lore thanks to the remaster of its prequel, can only appeal to fans of the license. The fact remains that several points are there to remind us that the game dates from 15 years ago, and not necessarily only graphically, especially since, on this side, the work done is really neat. It is especially at the level of the coating and the gameplay that this is felt, in particular for lack of variety, even if there are some small mini-games to break the monotony, but they remain quite rare. And what about the completely dispensable secondary missions which represent much more game time than the story itself? But the posing characters are there, with beautiful cutscenes, all wrapped up in a soundtrack that’s still just as charming. If you like the series, this is enough to make you forget about the small shortcomings.