The Final Fantasy VII saga continues fragmented almost exactly as it began 25 years ago, when the original was so successful it allowed Japanese RPGs to leap into the rest of the world. Numerous offshoots of Square Enix itself, spin-offs, but also imitators, dominated the role-playing scene after the release. If you didn’t have enough of the dystopian fantasy story in 1997, you could get tired of watching animations or films or playing games like Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus or snowboarding. However, the only game that was really relevant to the story because it provided important insight into the prequel to the main storyline was Crisis Core. 15 years after its release in Japan, it is now re-released worldwide as a remaster under the name of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion. And I can tell you this much in advance: It makes you want to play the main game just as much as it did back then.
Very good HD remaster
With Crisis Core Reunion, a very successful HD remaster came onto the market, which can visually keep up with other current-gen representatives. Although the cinematic cutscenes could not be completely re-animated, a few pixels get lost here from time to time, but there are only three places in the game. All the rest of the game will feature the new 3D models and completely redesigned locations. In addition, the dubbing in Japanese and English has been revised and also the soundtrack of Takeharu Ishimoto rearranged. You can hear and see these significant upgrades in the video above.
But that’s not the only reason why the game looks and sounds like it was developed for this year, because the team also worked hard on the combat system. While in the PSP version you could still laboriously target each attack individually and then only execute it with a button, in Reunion you have a standard attack and an additional seven slots in which you can distribute skills or magic attacks to your inputs. All you need is a simple key combination. This time, too, the materia will help you with skills like “jump” or magic like “ice”. Another innovation is the camera, which can now rotate a full 360 degrees, and the user interface, which stylistically matches the FFVII remake.
This is by far more than I expect from a remaster (or am used to) and that alone really convinced me. The game ran consistently for the 13 hours it took me to play through. I didn’t experience any stuttering or glitch and generally felt like I’d basically just played a current-gen game. I’d like to point out that I tested Crisis Core on the PlayStation 5 and I’m not sure if the Switch version would have performed as impressively. However, I must once again emphasize the music, which can be rated independently of the hardware. The tracks were so much fun. Not only because the newly arranged pieces sounded so good, but above all because they provided even more fan service with the many classics than Crisis Core already has to offer.
Still a good game?
Once again we slip into the role of Zack Fair, a few years before the events of Final Fantasy VII. Zack works for Shinra as a second-degree soldier and is very close to his superiors, Sephiroth and Angeal. In search of the missing Genesis, he travels through iconic areas such as Wutai, Midgar or Nibelheim and learns more and more about the mysteries behind Shinra. Here he makes his first acquaintance with the Turks, Aerith, Tifa and last but not least Cloud. Zack and Cloud’s relationship at the end of Crisis Core almost flows into the events of the main game.
Precisely because the remaster also looks so good, it makes you want the remake even more. This makes Crisis Core a perfect candidate for entering the Final Fantasy VII universe not only because of the story, but also because of the make-over, if you have previously (for reasons inexplicable to me) avoided all points of contact.
I wish I could leave it at that and give Crisis Core an outstanding 10/10 game, but unfortunately the game generally has a few weaknesses that the good HD remaster couldn’t completely iron out. Some people will certainly be bothered by the many film sequences, which luckily can be skipped. The story is engaging enough that even that didn’t bother me too much, but I have to admit if I skipped all the narrative, you’d probably end up with about three hours of gameplay, with a moderately fun combat system, mini-games, and a lot of missions that act as pure gap fillers or grind for bonuses. And next to a new God of War, that’s really little.
What about the gameplay if it’s been reworked so well? Nice that you ask. The real-time combat system can now be controlled better, but it’s still not really great. Mostly it feels like the classic JRPG round battle with a bit more dynamic. Opponents can either be convicted with their magic weakness or be finished by countless tapping. There is no real action if you use potions to build up stamina so that you can work off your opponent’s HP. Exceptions were some boss fights against “human” opponents. I was similarly concerned about monster encounters, where it wasn’t clear to me until the end whether I was dealing with random encounters or coordinated battles, or open areas that suddenly presented me with NPCs with side quests, even though the game had previously been strictly linear.
The well-sown dungeons were the main comfort to me against old age. Missions with which I could unlock special attacks that were full of Easter Eggs à la Chocobos, Moogles or the classic Phoenix cheered me up when there were too few fights in the main story. However, there was never too much fighting. Also, whenever I felt a twinge of boredom, there was a mechanic in the main story that surprised me. For example a scene in which only a baseball-like minigame or stealth could get me anywhere. So, in the end, all is not lost in the gameplay, on the contrary.
Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion Conclusion
Overall, the Crisis Core remaster offers a good introduction to the world of Final Fantasy VII, or a fun addition for fans. Here you can expect a lot of fan service and great Easter Eggs, which Reunion complements with the newly arranged music. The extras that fans are happy about could be overwhelming and nonsensical for newcomers, because Crisis Core not only attaches great importance to what is known, but also tells a lot with animated sequences. Those who can overlook this will find the game to be an important addition to the series precisely because of the exciting story.
Unfortunately, the good remaster, which already borders on a remake, cannot iron out general weaknesses of age and the combat system is only average. It can still be fun, however, because the variety here adds the necessary flavor when things start to get boring. If you only know the FFVII remake, you should definitely take this story with you, because Crisis Core Reunion offers some exciting insights into the entire universe, with Zack Fair as a very likeable companion.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion Test – Rating: 8/10
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion Test – Pros and Cons
- Super HD remaster (well done 3D models, locations, camera, UI)
- Revamped combat system inputs
- Newly arranged music is a highlight
- Exciting story, a useful addition to the main game
- A lot of fan service
- Combat system doesn’t look up to date
- Too many animation sequences used to tell the story
- A lot of fan service
Developer: Square Enix, Tose – Publisher: Square Enix – Platforms: PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, PC – Release: 12/13/22 – Genre: Action RPG – Price (RRP): €54.99