Following my thoughts on the FF7 Remake demo I was one of the jammy bastards that got their preordered game despatched early. I’ve had it for about a week now and have invested a reasonable amount of time into it so far. This has helped me formulate some opinions on it both as a game in its own right and as a remake to a 23-year-old game, which I count as one of my favourite games of all time.
Obviously having gotten past the opening mission in the demo I’ve been able to see a lot more of the game. It looks pretty amazing all in all, I love how things are familiar having played the older game but at the same time look and feel completely fresh and brand new. A lot of the more familiar areas have been expanded, to the point where they’re almost unrecognisable such as the sector 5 slums which have a lot more going on this time around.
Voice acting is largely very good.
Even Barrett has grown on me as being slightly less stereotypical than expected though he does stray awfully close. There are obvious similarities with the voice acting in Advent Children despite it being a completely different voicer cast, everyone definitely sounds younger than in the film which makes sense. My only real complaint here is that sometimes the script seems to call for some reaction moments that are very like anime, which while understandable can break the flow of scenes occasionally though nothing drastic.
One aspect of the remake I was especially looking forward to was the soundtrack given my love for the original. I’m very pleased to say it’s been excellent so far. There are tracks that seem to reference Advent Children, new versions of classics from the original and new tracks entirely. Everything seems to fit perfectly with what’s happening on-screen at any given time which is awesome. What’s also fun is that there are tracks to collect and play on jukeboxes, most are remixes of old tracks which are post Midgar so wouldn’t necessarily appear otherwise.
Combat wise I’ve still not tried the version that’s more closely aligned to the original game, however, I’m starting to get a bit more used to the new system which is a plus. You can map commands to the L1 button combined with one of the face buttons which makes things much more intuitive when in combat versus having to bring up the menu. Some battles have seemed a little brutal but that may just be down to my refusal to block. I’m taking the time to work on dodging though to mitigate this, the battles never seem unfair and you can collect or buy a decent amount of items to help.
The Materia system is pretty similar to the original game, though with some changes in terms of the ones you get and when in comparison to the original game. The ability to combine Materia in weapons and armour to allow for elemental resistances or attacks gives some decent tactical approaches to combat. You do seem to get far too much of certain Materia which is a bit odd. These can be sold which is always handy if you need some extra money, though there may be a reason for this I’ve just not uncovered as yet.
In the original the Midgar portion took a few hours, that wouldn’t obviously work in the context of a single game so it’s been expanded. This results in new characters and new story elements being introduced, as well as the original supporting characters getting developed in greater depth. It’s done a good job of making the characters more rounded and I’ve really enjoyed the interactions between them.
The main story beats have largely been the same.
I’ve enjoyed the new elements and am curious if there will be any significant changes to the main plot in future instalments. The focus on the characters has made me want certain changes to happen, even though I very much doubt it’ll be possible. I won’t go into anything just to avoid possible spoilers despite it being a 23-year-old game, what I will say is that it’s been fun seeing familiar events happening in slightly different ways.
The expanded content also means the introduction of sidequests, these usually go somewhere within the location you’re in and kill some monsters which can get a little samey but usually comes with some kind of reward. The battle intel missions can be quite fun as these earn you the summon Materia as well as objectives that encourage you to use certain game mechanics that you might not otherwise. There are also minigames such as darts which offer amusing distractions.
Overall I love the game that’s been released. There are some minor niggles with the combat system, sidequests and some of the dialogue but certainly, nothing that has put me off. I’ve loved being able to revisit the world, my biggest complaint is going to be how long we will be forced to wait until the next instalment and even what format it’ll actually appear on. If you loved the original game it’s well worth checking out that’s for sure.
Review code provided
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: 11/04/2020
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Download link: PSN