Howdy hidey ho! The Final Fantasy series holds a bit of a soft spot for me: it was my first foray and what got me into the JRPG genre. This means I’ve played every main FF game, but those always came to consoles. Thus, a handheld entry like Crisis Core never met my time. With FFVII being pretty much THE poster child for the Final Fantasy series, did I miss an important part of the story? Does the Crisis Core Reunion remaster a key part of the FFVII world?
…only thing that really feels anything close to modern is the combat: it’s deliciously fast…
Despite being a prequel to FFVII, this game is an action RPG. Additionally, it’s extremely important to remember this is a REMASTER, and thus what you’re actually playing is a 15-year-old game. And let me tell you: this shows on numerous occasions. Despite appearances, the only thing that really feels anything close to modern is the combat: it’s deliciously fast, frenetic, and still requires some level of mechanical understanding. This paid off a bit TOO much, though: I found that once I mastered the systems (or more importantly materia fusion), I could quite literally blast my way through fights in the late game. Still, the combat is great, but with one little flaw: RNGesus. The DMW system (basically all the cool stuff) happens on a semi-random RNG system that can be rather disruptive, albeit skippable. From there, though, that 15 years of age really shows as the world is extremely linear, segmented, and boils down to hall running to extremely boring effect. So do be prepared for a less-than-stellar exploration experience. This really is an action RPG set in a JRPG universe, so if action games aren’t your thing, this could prove to be a sticking point.
…a new game plus that basically provides a proper outlet for achievement hunters…
As is the case with more action-focused games, the credits do come quickly: somewhere in the realm of 12 hours depending on what else interests you. In that, though, is some good news: there are a surprising number of side quests, many of which I didn’t even complete. There’s also a mission system purely for those that enjoy the combat system. Then, there’s the cherry on top: a new game plus that basically provides a proper outlet for achievement hunters to enjoy everything the game has to offer. And THEN there’s the fact that the game comes in $10 cheaper than full price despite some pretty hefty remaster work. How hefty, you ask?
…the Steam Deck almost seems like the “right home” for the game.
Very hefty. You might think that because I didn’t play the original on the PSP, I wouldn’t know, but it’s shockingly obvious even without looking it up. In fact, despite the lower overall budget, the work in the presentation department is on the level of a remake. The bad news is that there are plenty of “wow, yea, this is a 15-year-old game” moments. The good news about the overall lower budget, and thus not AAA graphics, is that it runs well on the Steam Deck. You don’t have to configure anything: it defaults to 720p, 60fps, and max graphics settings. This looks great when playing handheld, and though it doesn’t hold a solid 60fps, it spends most of its time averaging around 50fps. There DO seem to be some per-the-usual asset streaming stutters (which will likely go away as shader cache updates are applied), but I can’t deny that playing this on the Steam Deck almost seems like the “right home” for the game. If you want a more TV-friendly presentation, cap the framerate at 30 and bump it up to 900p. But now we get to even heftier work and the most important reason this game even exists: the story. Through the use of added and extensive voice work (I had to look that up), the prequel properly fills in some gaps in the FFVII lore. Namely that you are absolutely wrong and a terrible person for shipping Cloud and Aerith. So wrong. So canonically wrong. Of course, that other character you care a lot less about, Sephiroth or whatever, has his story arc built in here, too. All this so you know how important Zack is in the core of Cloud’s backstory. I won’t spoil any of it, naturally, as my reviews are spoiler free. Just know that they also went after my heart with cowgirl Tifa. Hnnggg.
…this is a good game that should NOT be missed…
Did I miss an integral part of the poster child FFVII story? Yes, yes I did, and I’m absolutely glad they remastered this game. Not only did I also get to play it on a handheld to indirectly relive its own glory days, but I did it in remade graphics and modernized combat changes. You could call this a borderline hybrid between a remaster and a remake, but therein lies its rough flaw: there are many remnants at its core that do not stand the test of time and firmly remind you this game is 15 years old. Have I said 15 years old enough times? If not, then that’s the rundown: this is a good game that should NOT be missed by anyone who likes action RPGs AND the FFVII world because it fills in important gaps in character arcs. But its age reminds you that we’ve come really far in how we build our worlds and animate in real time.