Final Fantasy 7 Remake PC review

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What is that? The first part of a remake of the classic 90s PlayStation RPG Final Fantasy 7.
Expect to pay: $ 70
Developer: Square Enix
Editor: Square Enix
Revised on: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, Gigabyte RTX 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM
Multiplayer? No
Link: Epic game store

Final Fantasy 7 Remake hit PC months after its PlayStation release, priced at $ 70. Hope was for a definitive version, but at launch I can’t say that’s it. Which is disappointing, because although Square Enix gives it the kind of PC port the publisher is infamous for – not as bad as Nier: Automata, but still disappointing – Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is excellent.

Following the dull, muddled, and unfinished Final Fantasy 15, this new take on one of the series’ most beloved games makes it seem like it really has a vision. It faithfully balances the recreation of the original 1997 game (1998 if you first played it on PC like I did, giving me a lasting appreciation of the MIDI soundtrack), while commenting on the source material in a way that makes it up to date. The combat system is now fully real-time, but in a way that finally manages to honor the classic RPG legacy of the series.

The biggest downside is that, despite the title, FF7R only tells the story of the opening of the original game – the game taking place in the industrial and filthy town of Midgar, where the wealthy live comfortably on gigantic metal plates, while the poor live in the shadows below next to heaps of junk and garbage. While originally the Midgar section might take around 10 hours, here it turns into a 35-40 hour adventure that feels more complete on its own. As everything reaches a dramatic climax, it makes sense to close the book there (until the inevitable sequel).

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Let’s mosey

The wide field remains the same. A distant and grumpy mercenary named Cloud joins a cell of eco-terrorists who target the planet-killing Mako reactors used by the Shinra Company to power the cyberpunk-fantasy town of Midgar. It’s a serious story full of environmental mysticism and melodramatic twists and turns, undermined by wacky elements like chocobos and the infamous quest where Cloud sneaks into a villain’s lair while disguising himself. (Recontextualized here as a dance rhythm game that essentially competes with Cloud in Drag Race, which celebrates the stoic grumpy embracing his feminine side.)

The remake takes that original as a blueprint and expands it with additional quests, additional character depth and motivations, and even all-new story arcs. Going from the top-down view of the original to a closer third-person camera, the extra detail feels natural. It really adds to the feeling that FF7R is a full chapter.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Midgar portion of the original game wasn’t exactly an open world, and neither was the remake. Only a handful of Chapters hit the brakes to let Cloud roam a hub and take on side quests. Others are more linear. After a Mako Reactor is destroyed at the start of the game, you will walk among the panicked population and really feel connected to the people around you as they desperately search for loved ones in the middle of the wreckage. In the original game, this section was only two screens.

Another highlight is a whole new piece of history that takes you to a quiet residential area for the employees of Shinra, a sort of corporate town. There you have an idea of ​​what life is like for those who ignore the fate of the planet.

While the mix of junkyards and neon-lit streets looks amazingly pretty, the dungeon-like areas are more mundane and static. The additional Intergrade episode, originally DLC for the PlayStation version, has levels that benefit from a little more interactivity. It centers around Yuffie, a character who only appeared later in the original game. Flipping switches with ranged attacks and scaling walls like the ninja she is makes for a much more interesting exploration than Cloud has ever faced. His fighting style, a hectic mix of close-range and long-range combat, is also a lot of fun. Its chapter is only short, but it shows how the remake could evolve into a more interesting second chapter.

Fight or run away

Besides your first trip to the hazy red light district of Wall Market, where doing local favors plays a part in the plot, FF7R is better off to stick to an action-packed pace most of the time. Cloud’s person-sized buster sword isn’t for the show, after all. Whenever you don’t take detours to open treasure chests for potions (which if you’re like me you’ll probably avoid using until the final boss) you’ll hit enemies with all kinds of oversized weapons. in real time, Fantastic Final Style 15.

However, blocking and using standard attacks loads the Active Time Battle bar, parts of which can be spent to perform special actions. Time slows down when you do, mimicking the turn-based combat of the original game when you select abilities from the menu like Cloud’s Target Push or Barret’s Party Rescuer, as well as magic spells. Even using items like potions costs a good chunk of the bar.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

While it’s possible to fight your way through a lot of fights, sooner or later you’ll actually have to figure out how to get the most out of your crew. You can switch between controlling them directly or directing them to use abilities when their ATB bar fills up while staying true to your favorite.

It is possibly the best combat system Final Fantasy has ever had.

Each party member has a unique attack. For Cloud, it’s the “Punisher Stance”, where the blocks become automatic parries to the detriment of mobility and ranged defense. Barret is a charged shot that can be fired between longer bursts of his weapon. Keep the pressure on enemies or hit them with attacks they’re weak against, and they’ll stagger, overcharging your damage (up to 200%).

Often times you’ll have to choose between going on an attack to stun an enemy or take the opportunity to heal. Harder fights like boss fights really address this dilemma, especially in hard mode where magic is much more limited and items are downright off-limits. Not unlocked until you’ve completed the game once (and balanced for the new game more), this is a great added challenge that really shows how tactical the combat system can be.

It is possibly the best combat system Final Fantasy has ever had. It takes the real-time approach of Final Fantasy 15 and mixes it with more strategic and classic elements. The fights are quick, but you have time to breathe if you need to. It’s kind of like Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t make me want to scream every 10 seconds.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Abilities can be expanded by finding new weapons and maximizing their proficiency, allowing this weapon’s unique ability to be applied to your entire arsenal. Spend enough time with your Iron Blade, for example, and its Triple Slash attack can be used with any weapon. Characters improve by upgrading their equipment, with each level granting an equal number of skill points to all of your weapons. This is a great way to counter the power creep of RPG gear, because rather than weapons usurped by powerful variants, they remain relevant with different uses. Find more useful spells than melee? Equip one that improves your magic attack.

Materia is where you can get really creative. These shiny orbs integrate into your weapons, applying a variety of effects: elemental magic, parries, stat boosts, abilities and summons of powerful creatures. As materia gain experience, they unlock permanent buffs that apply even if you move them from one character to another (the classic “fire” spell becoming the “fira”, for example ). Some materia even play together, giving your basic attacks an elemental effect when attached to a binding slot next to elemental magic, or the same with resistances.

You can really play around with cool builds to get the most out of your team, for example combining barrier magic with Steadfast Block to absorb massive damage and immediately turn it into ATB so you can spit out attacks. You’ll always have more gear than your party can use, so you can be creative in how you respond to threats. With generous checkpoints allowing you to re-specify before retrying fights, you have room to experiment.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Disturbing landscapes

Cloud constantly asks where his money is. I’m wondering where the PC specific options are. Final Fantasy 15: Windows Edition was a surprisingly detailed port, filled with tweakable options and improvements not possible on its original console hardware. Here you only have the option to choose between high and low shadows and texture quality, which hardly seems to do anything, and there is a fps limit that reaches a maximum of 120. Stuttering has been reported on several hardware configurations, and dynamic resolution scaling may not be disabled.

You will struggle with the mouse and keyboard, unless you get used to a default control system that sometimes expects you to juggle WASD, IJKL, arrow keys, and one mouse at a time. You cannot select menu options with the mouse, although you can scroll with the mouse wheel (fun to select attacks, but hardly worth it not to use a controller in combat clearly designed for a). Moving the map with WASD is awkward, and sections with bespoke controls like a motorcycle sequence and mini dart game are much more difficult with a keyboard than a controller. Some keyboard prompts feature PlayStation button graphics prominently. Hit Esc whatever you want, the shortcut to bring up the menu is M. Map? It’s N, of course.

Still, Final Fantasy 7 Remake feels great with a controller in hand. It oscillates between the mechanical mental massage of combat and the exploration of an industrial fantasy world and a gripping story. Newcomers discover a rich world to immerse themselves in for the first time, while as a former fan I have found it impossible to resist the urge to find out what has been added and what has been changed. . The extra dimensions of the narrative and visual design leave me – for the first time in a long time – excited about the future of Final Fantasy, and the action game fan in me keeps me coming back for combat, something I feel. rarely in any RPG.

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