With roughly a month away from the much-anticipated release of the “Final Fantasy VII” remake, developer Square Enix decided to give fans a taste of what’s to come with a demo. The short one-hour gameplay preview gave fans a glimpse into the world of Midgar, but one question remains—is it good?
In short, yes. It’s very, very good.
It should be noted that this title should be approached with a pair of nostalgia goggles on. For many people that grew up in the 90s, the original was most likely their first trip into the worlds of Final Fantasy. In particular, the original “Final Fantasy VII” is regarded as one of the best entries in the series, holding a Metacritic score of 92.
For those that played the original demo for “Final Fantasy VII” back in the 90s, the opening should look identical. The entire demo should, as it is a recreation of the original demo and opening segment of the title.
This review will not be getting into the story of “Final Fantasy VII” remake, as that should be enjoyed by the player. Also, the original came out in 1997. The remake is not scheduled to differ too drastically from the original, but why risk a spoiler when you don’t need to? Just know that the game centers around a group of individuals that are seeking to rebel and push out an oppressive company that controls the fictional city of Midgar, known as the Shinra Corporation.
As the opening cinematic plays, gamers are shown a world where technology is at the core of everyday society—something that isn’t too far from our own. The player is shown a sweeping shot of Midgar, the city at the heart of this story’s tale.
The scene plays out, showing glimpses of some of the characters that the player will meet along this one hour demo—characters like Cloud and Barret, who are the only playable characters in the demo build of the title.
As soon as the cinematic ends, players are thrown into gameplay. Compared to the classic Final Fantasy formula, which has a turn-based battle system, “Final Fantasy VII” remake uses an action combat system to speed up the pace of combat. Fights are fast, tense and aggressive thanks to this updated combat system. However, that’s not to say the game doesn’t offer a slower approach to combat.
Players have the option to slow down fights and pick their moves carefully instead of the quick-paced action the game defaults to. Instead of slashing away with an oversized buster sword—Cloud’s iconic weapon—players can choose to use special attacks or use magic to slow down the pace of combat. Square Enix has given players control that previous Final Fantasy games limited, and it’s a welcome addition to say the least.
The demo proceeds to play out, giving players more opportunities to practice with the new combat system and get used to the fast-paced action. As the demo nears it’s halfway mark, players are given the ability to switch playable characters.
As a default, players start the game as Cloud, the main protagonist of the title. It is here that the game opens up, allowing players to try out Barret. Barret offers players something in the gameplay department that Cloud simply can’t: range.
Cloud is known for using an oversized sword. Barret, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Barret’s right arm has been replaced with a Gatling Gun, allowing players to fight enemies at a distance. The disparity between Barret and Cloud in the gameplay department offers players some diversity, letting them play out a scenario as they see fit.
As the demo nears its end, the player is given a chance to flex the skills they have acquired throughout their last hour of gaming. A large insect-like robot descends on the player, giving fans their first peek at how this remake is approaching boss battles.
The large insect robot—appropriately named Scorpion Sentinel—attacks the players with rockets, laser beams and close up melee attacks. If players wish to defeat this giant baddie, they’ll need to use the skills acquired over the last hour.
Scorpion Sentinel is a tank, both in a literal and figurative meaning. The boss is a damage sponge, but if players properly listen to the dialogue being hurled by both Barret and Cloud, the boss is a surmountable challenge.
“Final Fantasy VII” remake is shaping up to be a tour-de-force for developer Square Enix. For fans interested in the title, they can log onto PlayStation Network and download it for free. If you have already played the demo, or are happy to wait till the finished product hits store shelves, there isn’t much longer to wait. “Final Fantasy VII” remake hits store shelves on April 10.
Ryan Freeberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.