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Old 04-03-2008, 04:26 AM   #1
AgtFox
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[PSP] - Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Review


Title: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Platform: PSP
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
MSRP: $39.99
Editor: Loren 'AgtFox' Halek








Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII


A little over 10 years ago, a game came out that pushed the previously niche Console JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) genre into the mainstream. That game was of course Final Fantasy VII, a game that propelled the Playstation brand to new heights and continues to be an exclusive main series for the Sony systems (there are side Final Fantasy games on other systems, but the main thread has stayed Sony only minus the MMO FF XI). I loved FF VII, but I don’t consider it to be the best game of the series. Many out there who had their first taste of the series with that game will almost always choose that game as their favorite it seems. Now after a couple related properties (PS2’s bad Dirge of Cerebus and the cool CGI movie Advent Children) Square Enix has finally brought out a property to actually feel good about from a game perspective: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII on the PSP.

Crisis Core’s story starts out seven years before FF VII and revolves around Zack Fair, a name that some people may remember from FF VII. My co-worker who loves that game had no idea who Zack Fair was until I reminded him, so many may not remember his place in the game. From the FF VII perspective, Zack is known as the guy Cloud emulates to the point of pretty much “believing” he is Zack during the game because he doesn’t remember ever knowing Zack. Eventually, in a confrontation with Sephiroth, Cloud remembers Zack and what happened in Nibelheim five years ago. Crisis Core starts its story two years before the Nibelheim incident, but also includes said incident.

At the beginning Zack is a SOLDIER 2nd Class and trying very hard to get to 1st Class where people like Sephiroth are..
A bunch of 1st and 2nd Classes have deserted SOLDIER and backed one of the top operatives for the group, a guy named Genesis. It seems Genesis, Sephiroth and Zack’s mentor Angeal are all really good friends and in the case of Angeal and Genesis they grew up together. Sephiroth is considered the top operative in the program even though all three are SOLDIER 1st Class. Sephiroth is mostly a good guy in this game until the obvious turn that was documented before this game in FF VII, so it is cool to see him on the side of the major protagonist in this story at the beginning. The game revolves around these four characters for the most part with some younger versions of FF VII characters showing up, including Cloud. As you go through the story you will see a lot of similarities in the story here and the story of FF VII, leading credence to the fact that history has the habit of repeating itself. The story itself is top notch and often told through excellent CGI cutscenes as well as through cutscenes that use the game engine itself. It doesn’t hurt that the story contained here is an excellent base for both characters and answering questions about the past from FF VII.

The graphics are simply phenomenal for the PSP. Even though you can tell the difference between CGI cutscenes and ones that use the game engine, both are simply top notch for a system that supposedly has a little less power than a PS2. The only thing I could think of as I was playing this game was if Square Enix ever does go through with re-doing FF VII and they plan on bringing it to the PSP they should use the tools they used here. Also of note is the music and voiceovers. The music, to me, is a perfect balance between orchestral homages to the original FF VII music and a more rock and roll feel during battles. I know it sounds weird to say that kind of mashup strikes a perfect balance, but it just does. The voiceovers are also well done and the amount of things voiced is actually quite a bit, although I wish there was even more.

The gameplay itself will probably confuse you a bit at the beginning unless you’ve had some experience with the Kingdom Hearts games. The gameplay is refined from that here and a little more strategy is involved, but if you’ve played one of those games you should get a semblance of what kind of game this is. Gone is the turn-based combat from the game this is a prequel to. Now you fight just as Zack in real time. You can attack with the X button, dodge with the square button and guard with the triangle button. Down in the lower right corner is a line of actions you can do. By hitting the L or R trigger you can go down the line and do such things as use magic and items through the X button. The strategy comes from knowing when to heal Zack or unleash some magic and when to attack and evade the enemy attack. If you go in full guns blazing you will find out quickly after roughly the first half of the game that you will die quite frequently. The game itself gives you plenty of on-screen notices to know when you need to heal yourself and when you have a malady, but a lot can be going on at one time and you have to think quick on your feet.

A new addition to the game and one that is a total change of pace is the DMW or Digital Mind Wave section.
As you fight creatures and major enemies you will see a slot system in the top left corner of the screen. As you defeat enemies you will see faces come up on the slots. If the left and right slot land on the same character the screen will say “Modulating Phase” and the slot machine blows up to full screen as you await the middle slot to stop and see if you get three of a kind. Then you also have to watch the numbers to the left of each picture. They increase your number of SOLDIER points, but also if you happen to get 777 you get a level up. This is the only way to level up in the game since there is no XP in the game at all. There are ideas out there on the Internet that the XP is hidden and the slots come to 777 when you would regularly level up, but I question this since I had a few battles where I received two or more level ups. Granted, they were battles with big enemies, but it seemed a bit weird. With three of a kind in the pictures you also get to unleash a Limit Break or maybe get a level up one of your Materias. The base fact is it all seems like the slots and what it gives you are totally random. The only negative in this section is the fact that you have no control over any of it, although your increased excitement around a situation is pointed out by some test and that will usually give you some good outcomes once you hit the slots.

This game is tighter in inventory/equipping and looser in the ability to do anything anywhere. There are only a certain number of positions allowed for such things as Materia, so you do somewhat have to plan before major fights what Materia you are going to bring to the battle. The upgrades to your equipment as you go through the game are also very limited in how many you can have at one time. The changes to Zack’s abilities need to be looked at before you choose which items to equip and which ones to leave behind. In many ways, Crisis Core is a far more strategic game than even its turn-based sequel.

It is also a huge surprise to see that you can basically do anything you want at any point as you are moving along. You can bring up the menu and read the mail you’ve received, look at the DMW pictures you’ve unlocked and how powerful they are and you can even shop right from that menu. You can pick up however many potions and other items as you can with the gil you have since the Shop area is available to you at any point. This game is also very loose with the giving of gil and you should have no problem being well stocked for the tough battles should you not want to use magic points by unloading Cure on yourself.

The last thing of note with Crisis Core are the side missions that you unlock as you go through the game.
The main game itself will take a while to go through, but the side missions increase the length of the game quite a bit. It is well worth it to go through the side missions since they unlock even more stories and connections to FF VII that the main game does not cover. The only problem with the side missions is that you have to be at a save point in order to access and complete them, you aren’t able to just go to the menu and play them.

It is hard not to highly recommend anyone with a PSP to pick up Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. I’ve only owned my PSP for a short while, but I have a hard time believing that there is another RPG on the system that does everything as well as this one does. This is quite literally the first must own for me on the system and is an easy pickup for anyone that played the Playstation game over 10 years ago. The story is intriguing, the action gameplay is top notch and the game is simply fun. It is a change of pace for anyone expecting a Final Fantasy VII type of gameplay experience, but Square Enix has outdone themselves here and actually have made the PSP system worth owning from an RPG perspective. The nicest part is that there is finally a product around the FF VII compilation series that is simply excellent. If you’ve played the game this revolves around, it would be foolish to not pick this up as well.

Score: 5 out of 5

(About our Rating)


The Good
+ The graphics are really good for a PSP game
+ The cutscenes, both CGI and game engine based
+ The gameplay, although action orientated, is top notch
+ The voiceovers
+ The story both expands the history of FF VII and creates its own new characters and story
+ The side missions are quite fun
+ Zack and Sephiroth’s story/evolution and how it flows into FF VII

The Bad
- The new DMW system seems to be totally random, but its outcome can be tremendous
- Leveling is left up to the DMW and no clear fact whether there is a hidden XP total or not that decides when 777 comes up or not

The Ugly
- The evolution of Sephiroth from sane top SOLDIER to the insane man we know and love
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:28 AM   #2
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I just want to note that the 5 out of 5 is because I consider this game a Must Buy title (click on the "About our Ratings" link below the score to check out how we divide the scores). It does have its flaws, but much like Uncharted I feel this is a Must Own title, hence the 5 out of 5.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:47 AM   #3
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I've spent a bit of time on the game (though not as much as I want to) and it's pretty solid. The combat isn't at God Of War levels or anything, but it's fun and keeps things going until the next beautiful cutscene.

That said, if you don't like Final Fantasy VII, this won't likely sway you into buying a giant Buster Sword.

What this has done is, like Advent Children, made me hope for a remake of FFVII on either the PSP or PS3 so I can play through that game again without my eyes bleeding from the rudimentary 3D graphics of the original. They were great for the time, but man, that game hasn't aged well visually. All they need to do is replace the character models with ones that look like the ones in Crisis Core and I'd be happy!

And like you, I'm not a rabid FFVII fanboy. I do think it's highly overrated by many but every time I see things set in that universe, I realize just how cool a lot of the elements of the world are (and am reminded about some of the cool characters that inhabit it). Plus Bahamut just gets cooler and cooler every time I see him in a new game/movie.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:47 AM   #4
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That has to be one of the most gushing reviews I've seen in a while. If it were me, I would include the following among the cons:
- Leveling materia is very random, and kinda slow (moreso than leveling, at least for me)
- While there are many side missions, they are VERY repetitive
- There is some strategy, but most of the time you can get away with very sloppy materia/accessory choices (especially once you have the ability to equip 6 materia and 4 accessories, which doesn't take long)

I haven't finished the game, but personally I find the story to be silly at best. The cut scenes frequently include Advent Children style fight scenes, which are a big negative to me (because they are so ridiculous and over the top as to stop being exciting at all).

This game is enjoyable, but I wouldn't say it's a must buy unless you're a big fan of Final Fantasy or action RPGs.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:53 AM   #5
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I think this is the first PSP game that really makes me wish I owned a PSP, this and God of War(almost forgot that one). The funny thing is I don't really know why, I never was a huge FFVII fan.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:54 AM   #6
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Great review, Fox. I'm loving the game right now, though I'm only 7 hours in. I haven't done much story, just a ton of side missions.

As far as the xp is concerned, from what I've read, you do gain xp in the background, you just don't level up until it's triggered by the DMW. So you may have built up enough xp for a couple of levels, you just don't get them til the DMW comes around with the proper combo.

I've enjoyed the story a lot so far, and the music is really making me want to buy the OST.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorvi View Post
As far as the xp is concerned, from what I've read, you do gain xp in the background, you just don't level up until it's triggered by the DMW. So you may have built up enough xp for a couple of levels, you just don't get them til the DMW comes around with the proper combo.
This is the same thing I've read, although no one has really proven or disproven it.
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:02 AM   #8
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God of War
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Silent Hill Origins

... these are the only games I have (or plan to buy), and they are more than enough to justify the console. Throw the custom firmware and PSOne games into the mix, and PSP to me is the greatest console ever made. Well, at least the one I've had the most fun with!
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:18 AM   #9
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Typo Alert:
Quote:
Leveling is left up to the DMV
If leveling were actually left up to the DMV, I'm guessing the game would rate significantly lower.
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:26 AM   #10
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Typo Alert:If leveling were actually left up to the DMV, I'm guessing the game would rate significantly lower.
Good one...heh. Trust me, I had hard enough time while writing the review to remember it as DMW. They should have picked a better acronym/name for it than DMW/Digital Mind Wave.
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:52 AM   #11
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DMW is probably better than the other name: SSM (Stupid Slot Machine).

I'm still torn about whether I like the DMW the way it is or if I wish that it at least let me hit a button when the face slots come up so that I'd feel some kind of influence on the outcome. Even if it didn't really do anything, it'd be nice... like pressing an elevator button in a vain attempt to hurry it along.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:40 AM   #12
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Great game, mostly agree with the review. I'm 12 hours in now and while I have problems with the game in certain areas (mostly the DMW) I am really enjoying it.

Unskippable DMW Limit Cut-scenes can kiss my ass. If I have to see Zack fucking get healed by the Aerith cutscene one more time I'm going to snap. I had her kick off her cut-scene 3 times in a boss fight and I was over my max HP already, it was mind-numbing.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:45 AM   #13
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Good review, and I agree with all the points mentioned.

I'm still going through the game (currently at the Nibleheim incident), and found it a top notch game for the PSP. I've owned my PSP since the first day it came out in the States, and there haven't been that many great games for it. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good games like Lumines and Daxter. It's nice to see that well developed titles are coming out, like God of War (only played the demo so far, but hell, God of War on the fucking cell phone was still a decent game). Hopefully this trend will continue with solid titles coming out.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:22 AM   #14
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Great Review.

I've been playing the game to death and I've really only done side missions, I think I'm level 25 and I just unlocked 6 slots for materia. The main story, to me at least, is great and the cut scenes really do it justice. Same goes for the summon's CGI or in game movies such as Tonberry and Oden. I've really enjoyed the game so far and I look forward to looking at how the story plays out. One thing I will say is that Zack is a good fit in the universe and I would not be against another title with him in the future.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:52 AM   #15
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First, great review. I'm not even a fan of FF VII and I still want to play this. I really do wish they would remake FF VII cause I tried playing it and found the graphics then (this is a number of years ago) dated and clumsy gameplay. I found the game interesting enough and being everyone called it the "classic" game, I played it. I still want to...just not go back to the original. So i'll ask, i've never gotten into the FF VII and the offshoot games. Can I play this game and enjoy it? I figure it's a prequel so how lost could I be. But that's why I'm asking.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:55 AM   #16
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First, great review. I'm not even a fan of FF VII and I still want to play this. I really do wish they would remake FF VII cause I tried playing it and found the graphics then (this is a number of years ago) dated and clumsy gameplay. I found the game interesting enough and being everyone called it the "classic" game, I played it. I still want to...just not go back to the original. So i'll ask, i've never gotten into the FF VII and the offshoot games. Can I play this game and enjoy it? I figure it's a prequel so how lost could I be. But that's why I'm asking.
You'll miss out on a lot of the fanservice (those "Hey, I remember that place/character!" moments), but it's a very solid game by itself. I'm not too far in, but so far it doesn't seem to me that any FFVII knowledge is really needed.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:56 AM   #17
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Purple, I'm sure there are plenty of primers out that go over the story of Final Fantasy VII. Crisis Core ties into FF7, but is much more about the story about what happened before FF7. I don't think you HAVE to have played FF7, but it does help to at least know some of the characters that show up during the game and knowing their future story in FF7.

The major fusion between the two come into a key role when you reach the Nibelheim section because FF7 spends a lot of time flashing back to this incident and jogging Cloud's memories.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:57 AM   #18
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You'll miss out on a lot of the fanservice (those "Hey, I remember that place/character!" moments), but it's a very solid game by itself. I'm not too far in, but so far it doesn't seem to me that any FFVII knowledge is really needed.
Aye. It's pretty self explanatory but as Gorvi said, you won't get the fanservice thrill. Still a pretty fun standalone game and would probably be a decent intro to the FFVII-Verse as a whole.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:57 AM   #19
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You'll miss out on a lot of the fanservice (those "Hey, I remember that place/character!" moments), but it's a very solid game by itself. I'm not too far in, but so far it doesn't seem to me that any FFVII knowledge is really needed.
Gorvi is right, no knowledge is needed, but people who have played FF7 will be able to make parallels with that game.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:16 AM   #20
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Many of you weren't here trolling the EA forums when the PSP launched, but if anyone remembers I lauded the PSP long before it came. And when it did, man did I eat some crow. I said it was the greatest design for a system ever made when you balanced its portable nature against just how powerful it was. And forever my beautiful black system collected dust or ran SNES emulators.

That all changed this weekend. I purchased Crisis Core, the first title I bought for the machine since I picked up Wipeout at launch. I did so without reading a review, I did so without checking metacritic scores. I did it because I am a whore for Final Fantasy VII even after having loathed Advent Children and turning it off midway through.

And so it warms what tattered remains I have of a heart to know this title, which I have only had oppertunity to briefly load up, is actually good. Thank you good God - whom I hate and will usurp once my army of unspeakable horrors has finished emerging from the dark crevices of the Earth. I am going to plow through this game this weekend.
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