Final Fantasy 7 Remake, one of the most anticipated games of the year, aims to take an immortal classic for PS1 and shine a light on it with the power offered by current generation console technology. What were once basic polygonal models grafted onto pre-rendered backgrounds supported by footage in CG Full Motion Video, are now rendered in real time with a quality that far exceeds what Squaresoft could even dream of, in 1997. The interest of the gaming community is palpable and the surprise launch of the demo only ignited even more the flame of their passion.

In an age where downloads often have inflated dimensions, it’s worth noting that the demo weighs only 8GB (only a drop in the ocean compared to the 100GB needed to install the full game). Still, the demo hit us like a punch in the stomach. The latter offers around 45/60 minutes of intense action and covers the journey of Cloud and the Avalanche collective to the heart of the first Mako reactor. During the test, you will familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of the combat system, venture among the laser traps scattered along the corridors of the reactor, and face the famous clash with the Scorpion boss.

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In short, we face the first hour of play even if, obviously, this is not the final code (on the other hand, the PSN hackers managed to access it several months ago). On top of that, it’s good to point out that there are some gameplay and story elements that could be changed or tampered with ahead of the April 10 launch. From a technical point of view, however, we are faced with a game developed on Unreal Engine 4 that presents itself, both on standard PS4 and Pro, so refined and detailed that if Square Enix decides to release it under these conditions. , we’d be incredibly excited already.

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After learning of Kingdom Hearts 3’s small imperfections, the developers of Final Fantasy 7 Remake seem to have mastered the technology of UE4. The disappointing resolution of 900p on the base console and 1296p on the upgraded machines in Kingdom Hearts 3, received a significant update to 2880 × 1620 on PS4 Pro and 1920x1080p on standard PS4 for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Additionally, the dynamic resolution scaling solution adopted for the PS4 Pro version allows the game to run at 1620p most of the time with a noticeable drop only in the most intense scenes (like the boss fight of the game). Scorpio). In these sections the resolution increases to 2304 × 1296 pixels but the frenzy of the action and the use of TAA help to deliver a presentation of the highest level.

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Dynamic scaling comes into play a lot less on the base PS4, but there are cases where the resolution can drop to 1600 × 900 pixels, especially in the boss fight section. Other than that, however, there aren’t many other breaks or tradeoffs visible between the versions for the two machines: motion blur, depth of field, shadow quality, and volume effects are exactly the same. in both cases. Performance-wise, however, the game stuck at 30fps on both platforms. We tried by all means to put it in trouble but the FF7R demo responded with granite performance: a significant step forward from what was seen in Kingdom Hearts 3.

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Ultimately, however, the most interesting factor in this remake is the creative process behind re-presenting a classic PS1 on current gen consoles using cutting edge technology. In that sense, the original FF7 almost serves as a general guide rather than a structure to be strictly followed: the developers have taken some creative liberties that attract as much attention as the new graphics. However, the transition to UE4 and its impressive physics engine allowed Square Enix to recreate in real time some iconic moments from the original title: Cloud looking towards the reactor during the sabotage mission is a truly unforgettable passage. .

For a game so famous for its pre-rendered video footage, the demo should start with than ‘ iconic wide field showing Aerith across the streets of Midgar Town. This section uses the same trick as the original for PS1: it starts with a pre-rendered FMV with very high-quality models, then moves on to real gameplay without interruption, building on strategically positioned clouds of smoke. . The editing of the scenes cannot be easily established and before you know it you check Cloud at the station. This is the only pre-rendered cut scene present in the 8GB demo, but it is very useful in setting the pace of the Avalanche team’s adventure.

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Once catapulted into the game, it’s fascinating to see how many features of Unreal Engine 4 have been used to render this real-time version of FF7 properly. Volumetric effects are used to generate a polluted atmosphere around the station and in general everything takes on a certain sense of depth.

Dynamic lighting also helps enrich Midgar’s presentation. The lack of direct sunlight on the city’s slums results in a really well-made dark and oppressive atmosphere. During the Reactor Sabotage Mission, artificial lights are the main source of stage illumination and interact realistically with the protagonists’ clothing.

We’ve reached the point where light influences the materials it comes in contact with in a photorealistic way (a big step forward also from the CG film, Advent Children). The work done on the hair is also downright impressive. As we saw in Kingdom Hearts 3, recreating certain hairstyles can make it look rather odd. Cloud’s semi-sheer hair, on the other hand, takes somewhat realistic notes that glow in the light of the various scenes.

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Basically, while this demo is just a taste of the adventure to come, our first steps in Final Fantasy 7 Remake gave us exactly what we were hoping for. In addition to showing us its exhilarating gameplay, it gives us the opportunity to understand how the developers deal with this reimagining of the original material. Unreal Engine 4 technology also seems to be able to make for an absolutely breathtaking experience.

We’ll be back to talk about Final Fantasy 7 Remake in more depth as the game launches, slated for April 10th.

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