LifeisXbox’s Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 – Reunion review | When Crisis Core originally released on PlayStation Portable, it was a good enough reason for me to start the hunt for a 2nd hand one to hopefully play this game all my friends were talking about. The problem was that I was on a student budget at the time and nobody was selling theirs.
Fast-forward about 15 years and I finally get to play the Final Fantasy VII prequel, and on Xbox no less! The remastered version brings us the same old game with a fresh coat of paint. While there are seemingly few content changes, there has been a massive make-over in the visual department and – from what I’ve heard – a vastly more enjoyable gameplay experience that feels more fluid and loads quicker.
I’ve managed to remain spoiler-free for most of these years, which seems like a miracle, but besides the ending (that I won’t spoil for others), I was blissfully unaware of the story and even get to enjoy fresh new characters like Angeal and Genesis without prior knowledge. Playing this has sent a wave of nostalgia down my spine, and I felt like a 14-year-old kid again during Christmas.
Let’s give the slots a spin and dive right in!
Most Memorable Moment
This moment from the video below isn’t only an internet meme (that I finally can see within its context), but it’s also the first time Zack and Cloud meet each other and it was such a heart-warming moment for me as a long-time fan of the series. It’s incredible to finally be able to fill in those gaps in my FF7 lore that have been missing for so many years.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- A deep-dive into Final Fantasy VII lore | I can’t begin to stress how amazing it is to me to see the first time Zack meets Cloud, while he’s still a soldier in training, or how we get to see Sephiroth before he goes all crazy and tries to destroy the planet with a giant meteor. Like I said in the intro: I’ve remained blissfully unaware of all the finer details present in Crisis Core and I’m eating them up like candy.
- It looks so freaking good | Since this is a PSP port, I wasn’t expecting graphics that look this nice. Character models look almost as great as in Final Fantasy VII Remake, and they even went above and beyond when it comes to the summon cinematics. You can skip them, but I’m sure I watched all of them a dozen times or more before I got bored of them.
- Short missions | The meat of the game isn’t found in the story, but in bite sized missions you can beat in about 2-3 minutes each. This makes it perfect to pick up and play a few quick challenges when you don’t have a lot of available time. While this is probably a remnant from being a portable title (and a decent reason to pick it up on Nintendo Switch), the Quick Resume feature also makes it possible to play this in small chunks as your “in-between-games” title.
- Mastering the combat gets rewarded | Playing smart reaps rewards, as beating a conflict without taking damage or by finishing an enemy with a skill/spell or limit break has benefits like restoring your HP or MP. It’s a nice system that makes you think about the order of your attacks and how to optimize the Materia you bring into battle.
- Slots | I was afraid of this system as it looked confusing in the videos I saw back in 2007, but there is a slot machine constantly rolling in the top left corner with faces of the people you’ve met or the summons you’ve gathered. Landing on certain combinations will have benefits like not using any Action Points, being invulnerable to attacks or activating powerful limit breaks. These can really turn the tide of the battle and since you’re not penalized for retrying a failed conflict, you can simply try again and wish for better luck.
- Deep Materia system | There is so much to experiment with in Crisis Core, and I just love how you can abuse it from the get-go. If you know what you’re doing you can fuse Materia into powerful new versions with your magic spells also silencing enemies, stopping them in their track and giving you a passive +250% HP boost. The possibilities are endless, and it feels great having so much power from the very start of the game. If you play all the missions and open all the treasure chests, you’ll be an unstoppable powerhouse in no time.
- Voice acting/script | I had some concerns when I saw a few pre-release trailers with how cringe-worthy the scripts seemed to be, even by 2000’s JPRG standards, but having played the game I have to admit they never really felt out of place. Zack even almost drops an F-bomb: “What the actual …” and they don’t fall into lazy writing traps with Zack failing to listen to Yuffie when she asks him to check his phone, so she can pick his pockets and him casually going “That didn’t even work the first time, kid.” It’s endearing! But that being said, I don’t know if I would let some of these cutscenes slide so easily if I hadn’t grown up when I did and only experienced more modern titles.
- Crisis Core isn’t afraid to be a game | I’m not sure yet where I land on games being self-aware, as we’ve been spoiled recently with most titles working around it, but Crisis Core frequently references game-elements in spoken dialogue. You’ll hear a fellow SOLDIER tell you “use the save point” or “press the X button” and it’s only now that I realised other releases have been trying to avoid that in recent years.
What we Disliked
- “CONFLICT RESOLVED” | Every time you start a battle or end one, you’ll hear the exact same phrase, and it’s enough to drive you mad. Hearing “conflict resolved” 10 times in a single dungeon across 3 minutes is borderline crazy, and I have no idea why they kept that in. I haven’t been this annoyed with repetitive voice lines since Blue Dragon’s “Nothing!” or Dragon’s Dogma’s companions shouting the same warnings with every goblin encounter.
- Empty, repetitive environments | The missions, while fun because you get some pretty cool upgrades there, can start to drag, especially when you binge them. That’s caused in large part thanks to the empty corridors you have to walk through again and again. It’s the same old dungeon structure for hundreds of missions, and I grew tired of them around the 30% completed mark.
- The ending chapters | Towards the end, the chapters get shorter, yet they feel like they drag on too long. They introduce new story beats that do not really contribute a lot towards the grand scheme of the narrative, and there is a lot of meaningless running around. Especially the prison dungeon in the final chapter is a slog to get through.
How long to beat the story | ~12 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | ~35 hours
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.