Final Fantasy VII remake has contextual crouching, more action-y combat

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Final Fantasy VII Remake gameplay revealed at PlayStation Experience keynote.

We’ve known the Final Fantasy 7 Remake was real — at least, we were told as much last June at E3. Last year’s inaugural PlayStation Experience closed 2014 with a surprising number of game and product announcements, and Sony appeared ready to double-down on this new end-of-year tradition with a follow-up, fan-focused convention full of playable demos and new products, and its two-hour keynote led off with the big Final Fantasy remaster that Sony announced at this past summer’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The video showed the first gameplay scenes from the classic Final Fantasy game that fans have called the best in the long-running series, which has shipped more than 100 million units over time.

Final Fantasy VII Remake—the classic remaster’s official name—had a gameplay-trailer reveal that showed less of a remaster and more of a total overhaul. That means a cleaner, higher resolution Cloud Strife; a cleaner, higher resolution Barret Wallace; and of course cleaner, higher resolution sidewalks (and other environmental stuff). The game is reportedly taking its visual cues from the 2005 film Advent Children and will also make “dramatic changes” to FF7’s classic battle system. Well, when a long-requested remake of the 1997 role-playing game was announced at E3 this June, attendees at Square Enix’s press conference stood up and cheered, YouTubers posted tearful reaction videos, and the company’s stock shot up to its highest level in seven years.

The trailer’s dialogue was entirely spoken aloud, as well, and its combat showed off an apparent active-battle twist, though it was hard to tell whether players will gain as much active control of Cloud Strife and other characters as the trailer appeared to show, or whether the footage simply looked more dynamic from a new perspective. Final Fantasy big-wig Tetsuya Nomura took the stage after the presentation, but not with news of a release date or when fans can expect any playable access to the remaster. For example, Uncharted 4 kicked the show off with a dialogue-loaded conversation between Nathan Drake and his brother Sam set in front of a slick-looking sunset-draped bay, and it revealed one new feature for the Uncharted series: dialogue trees.

I’m completely clouded by nostalgia here—it’s unavoidable, and it makes the game’s enduring (and newly touch-centric) flaws easier to tolerate. Unrelated to the other core Final Fantasy games, VII follows Cloud, a young ex-soldier who bands together with rebels to take down the powerful Shinra company.

Beyond exploring the environments, you’ll spend a lot of time in turn-based battles (now ideal for touch devices)—and mastering the smart, easy-to-learn Materia magic system and constantly upgrading your gear and abilities makes the eventually-tedious combat stay compelling. There’s enough variation in locations and enemy types that even repetitive actions take on a new tenor, plus the boss battles—particularly those found deep into the quest—are thrilling tests of tenacity and planning.

The virtual buttons are messy and can obscure the action, while there’s no great choice between the virtual analog stick and directional pad for movement. However, the game has been tweaked to be optionally more approachable for phone players: You can turn off random battles to quickly breeze through areas, as well as choose to maximize all player stats at any point if you just want to cruise through and enjoy the story.

And while needing to use save points to record your progress isn’t ideal for a mobile game, they appear frequently enough that a 15-minute gap in your day can probably be used to advance the storyline.

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