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Final Fantasy VII (PC) artwork

Final Fantasy VII (PC) review

"On the console, Final Fantasy 7 is an outstanding game, despite all the hype, in my opinion. On the PC (read again: PC) Final Fantasy 7 barely reaches above mediocre."

Final Fantasy 7 is a hot topic even to this day, several years after it was originally released. Depending on who you talk to, it's can be the single greatest game ever created, a great example of console excellence, or one of the most overrated games of all time leading to the further dumbing down of RPG's.

For all the Square and Final Fantasy fanatics out there, here's a nice little line that should get your blood boiling - This game *IS* overrated. In fact, the entire series is, in general, horribly overrated. Final Fantasy is the RPG equivalent of the Tomb Raider series, yet it still manages to maintain its popularity. In each incarnation, it simply changes the players and the battle system, and voila, it's a million seller. It's easy to argue that Final Fantasy 8 was the only one that took a significant step forward with adultlike characters and a mature plot. A step forward that was immediately reversed with the releasal of Final Fantasy 9. The graphics have become cleaner and the FMV more integrated as the series has continued, but sound and music is more of a personal taste issue then anything else.

Yet, I diverge. This review is on Final Fantasy 7, not the series, for the PC. Personal computer. Not the console. On the console, Final Fantasy 7 is an outstanding game, despite all the hype, in my opinion. On the PC (read again: PC) Final Fantasy 7 barely reaches above mediocre.

First, the thing that you'll notice about Final Fantasy 7 the second you install it on your computer: it's a resource hog. The minimum install requires 500 megabytes of hard drive space. If your computer is under 300mhz, you better have a nice video card to compensate, otherwise the graphics can become very choppy. It's a bit puzzling why the requirements are so high, considering that the Playstation was grossly inferior to the PC's power at the time.

Final Fantasy 7 revolves around a man named Cloud. Cloud's past is a bit foggy. He was a member of SOLDIER, an elite fighting group for Shinra, a corporation based in Midgar that controls much of the world. You and your fellow heroes go to fight against Shinra in their industrialized slum city known as Midgar, but then someone goes and throws a monkey wrench in the works...

The story of Final Fantasy 7 is excellent, if you're lucky enough to never had heard it. Pretty much everyone knows the story behind Final Fantasy 7 though, and they aren't reluctant to share their feelings. You have to watch your step around the internet, otherwise the story WILL be completely ruined for you.

Mechanically, Final Fantasy 7 is rather good. The battle system revolves around materia, which is magic produced for mainstream usage. It ''grows'' in the way normal characters grow, by gaining experience called AP. They also gain levels, like characters. Ranging in variety, some attack the enemy, raise your stats, call monsters to aid you, or heal you.

Every piece of equipment in the game has slots, in which you equip the materia. The number of slots usually varies with the quality of the equipment. The growth rate of the materia in certain slots also varies. Weapons can offer zero, normal, double, or even triple growth for AP.

Outside of the materia system, there's not much new in Final Fantasy 7 battle-wise. There's the traditional handful of new attacks and abilities that you'd expect. Battles still follow the standards set by Final Fantasy 2 and 3 for the Super Nintendo, with real time fighting.

Final Fantasy 7 is pretty easy by most standards. Unless you run from half the battles in the game, you should be able to beat the end boss and have no difficulties getting through the game. Any veteran of computer RPG games will blow through it.

And therein lies a problem - Final Fantasy 7 is still clearly an RPG for the console. RPG's on the PC are a totally different ball game. Most people who play RPG's on a PC are not casual gamers. Final Fantasy 7 therefore seems quite simplized when compared to games such as Baldur's Gate. The story is the only thing up to par with computer RPG levels. Absolutely no multiplayer options does not help the game at all either. Multiplayer is a component that has been found to be essential for high sales.

Final Fantasy 7 is also an almost complete port of the console game. Some minor bugs were fixed, but otherwise, nothing else was added. The ability to save as many times as you like is nice, but nothing new was added. Even a crappy little multiplayer option where you could fight characters against characters online would have neat, but no dice. It gives the appearance that Square didn't really care about making a PC game, they just wanted to port over a game to make more money.

Graphically, Final Fantasy 7 is updated a bit from the Playstation standards, if you have an ultra-powerful computer that's strong enough to run it without significant frameskip. Characters are three dimensionally portrayed, albeit a bit blocky. There are many majestic scenes that are pleasing to the eye. The graphics compare favorably to other PC games of the time. However, other PC games of the time didn't require nearly the system.

As I said earlier, the music of Final Fantasy 7 is more of a judgement call. I don't particularily like ANY music from video games, so Final Fantasy 7 didn't really stick out in my mind. However, there's nothing so irritating that you'll rip hair out of your scalp.

If you like leveling up characters and finding hidden equipment, then Final Fantasy 7 has some replay value. I don't, however. I don't see the point in playing a game twenty more hours just to acquire equipment that will help you to beat the game easier, that you already beat. There's a few extra story scenes, but nothing that can't be obtained from the last point at which you save. There's also two ''secret'' characters that are so well known that they aren't secret at all.

Overall, Final Fantasy 7 is an excellent game. For the console. For the PC, however, it's a whole different ball game. It simply can't stand up to other big boys such as Baldur's Gate or Might and Magic, or hardcore online RPG's such as Ultima Online or Everquest. If you haven't played Final Fantasy 7, and don't have a Playstation, then you might want to pick this up to see what all the fuss is about.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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