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Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake Assessment (PS4)

Republished on Wednesday, thirteenth July, 2022: We’re bringing this evaluate again from the archives following the announcement of July’s PS Plus Further, Premium lineup. The unique textual content follows.

Nicely, right here we’re. The time has lastly come for us to evaluate Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake, and it is surreal. We vividly keep in mind the official announcement at Sony’s E3 2015 press convention, and that trailer nonetheless offers us goosebumps. However now that we have truly performed it, is that this the remake of a stone chilly role-playing traditional that we have at all times needed?

Sadly, there is no clear minimize reply to that query. In the event you’re an enormous fan of the unique Ultimate Fantasy VII, this remake will undoubtedly stir some emotion. Seeing its iconic characters and the memorable metropolis of Midgar realised in full 3D can actually ship a shiver up your backbone, and for essentially the most half, it is clear that a whole lot of love was poured into this mission.

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Nonetheless, Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake struggles to stay as much as the big expectations which have been positioned upon it. It is easy to say that any recreation would crumble within the face of such strain, however at occasions, Remake does not do itself any favours. Very similar to Ultimate Fantasy XV, bits of it really feel considerably confused or misguided — and it is these moments that maintain again an in any other case rousing return to the world of Ultimate Fantasy VII.

However let’s begin with the details. Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake is not a full remake of Ultimate Fantasy VII. It solely covers the Midgar portion of the journey — the opening eight hours or so of the unique launch — however the entire story arc is tremendously expanded. In that sense, that is simply the primary recreation in Sq. Enix’s Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake “sequence” — even supposing there is no indication of this within the title itself.

Proper now we do not know when the subsequent instalment is coming, however for what it is value, we do suppose that Remake looks like an entire recreation. No, it does not cowl the complete story of Ultimate Fantasy VII — not even shut — however Sq. Enix has managed to make it really feel like its personal factor. It has a starting, a center, and an finish, and operating by means of it would take you at the least 25 to 30 hours or so. 35 to 40 if you wish to see and do the whole lot that the discharge has to supply.

Issues kick off precisely as they did within the unique. Cloud Strife, delinquent mercenary for rent, fights alongside eco-warrior organisation Avalanche, because the group makes an attempt to carry down Shinra, the corrupt energy firm that guidelines with an iron fist. The overarching battle between Avalanche and Shinra that followers will keep in mind stays intact all through, however sure plot factors are explored in far better element, whereas different, totally new eventualities have been slipped into the present narrative.

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Many of those contemporary concepts carry welcome nuance to what was as soon as a reasonably simple story, however with out spoiling something, this isn’t an actual duplicate of the 1997 traditional. Modifications have been made, and whereas we do suppose that, finally, it is extra attention-grabbing to see Remake attempt one thing totally different, there are particular selections that can inevitably be on the centre of hardcore debate within the weeks to come back.

The results of all it is a retelling that is clearly acquainted, however nonetheless manages to shock. The standard of principal story cutscenes is improbable, and though the writing is undeniably tacky, the dialogue is endearing, and delivered with allure. The principle playable forged — Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith — are all just about excellent, even when there are just a few too many anime-style grunts and sighs for our liking.

Anyway, the storytelling all through the principle marketing campaign may be very satisfying — bolstered by sure scenes that fairly merely blew us away — and the extra beats solely serve to counterpoint the expertise. Sq. Enix might have fairly simply buggered the entire thing up, however because it stands, it feels just like the plot has been given the respect that it deserves. That mentioned, the story most likely will not resonate fairly so effectively if you happen to’re new to Ultimate Fantasy VII. There are occasions when the narrative depends closely on nostalgia, presenting characters, scenes, or ideas in ways in which’ll appear downright bizarre if you happen to’re coming into this fully blind.

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Nonetheless, it is one hell of a experience. We did discover ourselves questioning the plot’s pacing now and again, however the recreation makes up for any drawn-out moments with its ultimate few chapters. The final third or so of the discharge is clearly a minimize above, and it is relentlessly entertaining.

Sadly, it is not all over-the-top Shinra-busting goodness for our spiky-haired hero. “This sucks,” says Cloud, as he is trying to find misplaced cats in a Midgar slum. You are proper Cloud, it does suck — so why are we even doing this? That is a query you may ask your self greater than as soon as as you undergo Remake’s largely uninspired facet quests. These non-compulsory aims present up each time Cloud and firm arrive at a brand new settlement, and ending them nets you some neat rewards, like uncommon materia or tools. Mercifully, there aren’t many duties to undertake — there are solely 20 or so all through the entire recreation, they usually typically do not take lengthy to finish — however except they function a cool boss battle, they’re fairly vapid.

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And that is the place Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake fumbles; it options some actually baffling design. For instance, the variety of occasions that you need to squeeze by means of a spot in a wall, or crawl beneath some rubble, or slowly, slowly edge you approach throughout a suspended plank of wooden borders on parody. You climb so many equivalent ladders. Not all of those pressured actions could be masking a load display, absolutely?

You’d hope not, anyway, as Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake is unashamedly linear. A small variety of outside environments are actually simply corridors that you simply run alongside. No battles, no cutscenes, no interactivity by any means — simply maintain ahead in your stick till one thing triggers. To be clear, the overwhelming majority of the sport is not like this — there are often some branching paths with treasure chests, and fight encounters are pretty widespread — however the distinction in stage design high quality could be jarring.

Talking of high quality, Remake sports activities a number of the greatest visuals on PlayStation 4, arms down. Nicely, at factors in the principle story, at the least. The primary bombing run proper initially of the sport, for example, is gorgeous. Exploring the Sector 5 slums, not a lot. For no matter purpose, Remake has a critical difficulty with environmental textures. You could not discover them as you are casually jogging by means of an space, however the issue may be very, very arduous to overlook if you’re chatting to non-playable characters, or sitting by means of a cutscene.

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Textures could be so dangerous that we actually thought it was resulting from some sort of bug. However no, that is simply how the sport appears. Even on PS4 Professional, on a 4K TV, surfaces can look dreadful — like they have not loaded in correctly. We’re speaking PS2-level constancy right here, and it boggles the thoughts. Once more, Remake is a really linear journey, so it is arduous to think about the way it ended up trying like this when the PS4 boasts so many attractive open world video games. We are able to solely hope that this difficulty is patched.

Fortuitously for Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake, a lot of its (principally) minor flaws are forgotten if you’re basking within the warmth of battle. Its fight system fuses free motion and one-button combos with time-pausing menus and tactical instructions. At first it could actually take a short while to wrap your head round the way it all works, however when it clicks, it is magical. In a approach, this feels just like the evolution of Ultimate Fantasy’s trademark Energetic Time Battle system — giving gamers extra direct management over the get together, whereas additionally retaining the strategic edge that flip based mostly fight permits.

You management one character at a time because the competent AI handles your allies, and you’ll swap freely with the d-pad. Every combatant has their very own distinct really feel: Cloud is agile, but his enormous sword has a heft to it as he blocks and counters an incoming blow. Barret is gradual however devastating at vary due to his gun arm. Tifa is lightning fast, however she must chain distinctive assaults collectively as a way to deal most harm. Everybody’s simple to become familiar with, however there is a shocking deal of depth with regards to mastering every get together member’s potential.

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Fight is definitely one in every of Remake’s best strengths. Hitting weaknesses with elemental spells, pulling off a last-second heal, or staggering your opponent with a wonderfully timed assault is immensely satisfying, and within the recreation’s greatest encounters, the whole lot comes collectively to showcase what is a wonderful system. Boss fights specifically are excellent; they ship jaw-dropping spectacle in addition to intensely tactical fight time and time once more.

Actually, Remake could be fairly tough. There are a selection of encounters that demand warning and understanding of the various instruments at your disposal, however if you happen to’re having hassle, you possibly can at all times swap to ‘simple’ at any time. There’s additionally the curiously named ‘traditional’ mode, which has your get together transfer and carry out primary assaults mechanically as you dish out instructions. Weirdly, although, ‘traditional’ does not keep on with the default problem. As a substitute, it lowers the problem to ‘simple’, which looks as if a little bit of a disgrace for many who desire a extra flip based mostly really feel, however do not wish to reduce the general problem. Extra choices could be good.

Tying fight collectively is character development, which can also be a spotlight. Ultimate Fantasy VII’s masterful materia system remains to be in place, permitting you to totally customise your get together’s capabilities. Materia orbs are discovered all through the sport, and when slotted into your gear, they’ll present stat boosts or give characters entry to magic. And in Remake, some materia may even alter set actions. For instance, ‘Lethal Dodge’ enables you to pull off a sweeping melee assault after performing a roll. Taking part in round with materia and understanding potent mixtures remains to be improbable enjoyable.

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After which there’s the all-new weapon improve system. In Remake, every character will get a variety of weapons, every with their very own strengths and weaknesses. Some weapons promote bodily assaults, with upgrades that bolster power. Others concentrate on materia-based upgrades, letting you fit extra orbs. The underside line is that this new system offers you the liberty to create your individual distinctive get together. You’ll be able to remodel Cloud into the gang’s main magic person with the precise sword, or you possibly can increase Tifa’s velocity to the purpose the place her onslaught appears infinite. The improve timber aren’t large, however they nonetheless have a notable impact on the way you play, and branching out can rapidly turn into addictive.

Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake’s fight and the methods that assist it maintain the entire expertise collectively — particularly if you’re chasing down facet quests and you do not have the standard of the principle story to maintain you engaged. However there’s one other part that acts as a glue, and that is the soundtrack. Briefly, Remake’s music is superb. Lots of the unique’s themes and tunes are right here, however they’ve all been brilliantly and superbly reworked.



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