The return to Midgar after almost a 20 year hiatus, brought up many nostalgic memories of my childhood and brought up a lot of things of how I would imagine they would look and feel like. From the junk and trash scattered throughout Sector 7, to the extensive night life of Wall Market, each and every detail that many fans remember are implanted in throughout the game. As this is a remake, we fans need to remember that it is not the original 3-disc Final Fantasy 7. Having completed both now, Final Fantasy 7 Remake was so close to giving me what I wanted to see and feel.
For Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the obvious major highlight of the game is the stunning graphics and attention to detail to the life given to every character that passes through the screen. Each individual character is given so much life, enhanced by the voice actor/actress that accompanies it. It is the finer details that make the game mesmerizing and enticing to keep playing. The character development of even the minor characters like Avalanche, Aerith’s mother and foster mother, the Turks, and even Don Corneo are developed and explained in a lot more depth and emotion. Aside from just the graphics and character development, the soundtrack does need an honorable mention.
Needless to say, the game cannot be a complete one to one remake and expect everyone to just love it. Of course the flow of the game has to be organic and a lot of the boss battles (and introductions to them) are drawn out a bit more dramatic than normal. There is no “SUPRISE BOSS” that just pops out of no where and the boss battle music just cuts in. Although it makes the sectioning of the game a lot easier (chapters usually defined primarily by the boss battle) the game does not make use of the usual characteristics other Final Fantasy games have with rare spawn. While there are such as the VR Missions and Side Quests, the usual rare spawn would give a little bit more roam to the rails Final Fantasy 7 Remake is attached to.
Speaking of the rails, the one aspect of the game that I disliked but understood was the inability to feel like I could wander around for a little. This game is almost on rails, and the game makes it a major point to direct you from point A to B. Even while doing the side quests, it is easier to pick them all up at one time because a majority of them are located in the same place anyways. For reintroducing Final Fantasy 7 to the world, Final Fantasy 7 Remake does happen all before the group ventures out of Midgar, so it does make sense, but it just feels too linear.
My concern, as I have stated on the podcast a couple times, is the way they were going to portray Cloud crossdressing. When the three are taken for Don Corneo’s selection, Cloud is cross-dressed for the progression of the story of Avalanche and Don Corneo. The polygons from before made the image plausible, but in high resolution formatting, I thought it would be very touchy on how they were going to reenact this. However Square Enix did a masterful job with the Honeybee Inn and the character Andrea Rhodea. Although it was a bit over the top by being showcased on a stage for all to glamor at, the reaction from Aerith and the monologue that Andrea speaks to Cloud makes the scene one of celebration and acceptance, rather than a sideshow display. A powerful message that ends the makeover scene summarizes it perfectly.
True beauty is an expression of the heart. A thing without shame, to which notions of gender don’t apply. Don’t ever be afraid, Cloud. - Andrea Rhodea
From highlight of the game to lowlight, the section that upset me the most was literally the ending. After going through all the emotions with the characters, developing more of the off characters, retelling the story organically in the new generation, putting in roughly 40 hours of gameplay that orginally took maybe half the time, building the tension higher and higher throughout the game, the ending left a small sour taste in my mouth. Both the final battles and the final cinematic I felt were PURELY for the fact that Square Enix is trying to tie in every Final Fantasy 7 spin-off into the literal last 10 minutes of the game. I find it upsetting that the conclusion to Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part One is a fight with “Fate” and creating a new timeline that easily can leave a wide array of how the story progresses in the future. I feel there are a few pros in that section, but they are massively outweighed by cons. After fighting that fight, you fight the LITERAL final boss of Final Fantasy 7. That fight was just for instant gratification for the fans I feel, solely because everyone wanted to have a fight with Sephiroth, but I felt it left the opposite effect because of the lack of mystery and suspense that you were wondering althroughout the game. To top that off, the final cutscene added Zack (which is fine) but I felt there was way too much of him to try and be developed so late into the first game, and much too heavy of a role if they were going to do that so late. It just did not make sense to give him so much screen time at the final credit scene after defeating “Fate” and Sephiroth.
To break it down, here is where I am angry at the ending. Fate and Sephiroth fight resolving, ok sure, wait for next game. The scene with Rufus is necessary for a plot point in the future, that checks out. Hojo going mad, again future plot point, lets go. But then here is where I am questioning what Square has planned: Zack screen time for no other reason to show he survived. Rebuild of Sector 7 and Biggs surviving and found in the children’s house in Sector 6. I get the different timeline, but now Final Fantasy 7 Remake will indirectly turn itself into another Zelda spin-off and what remains true in the original Final Fantasy 7, may or may not come to light in my opinion in the future Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part Two.
That thought really bums me out as a fan of the Final Fantasy Franchise.