Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion in the test: Do you notice the PSP roots?
If you missed the era of the PlayStation Portable back then, you missed a few gems. A highlight, for example, was Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which was released in September 2007 in Japan and in the first half of 2008 in the USA and Europe. The title already suggests it: Crisis Core is a spinoff for Final Fantasy VII, which takes us back to the industrial metropolis of Midgar, controlled by the mega-corporation Shinra, but a time before the events of the role-playing milestone from the PlayStation One-era lights.
Nevertheless, you can look forward to seeing popular characters from VII again: The young Cloud is still dreaming of a career as a SOLDIER, Aerith is not yet a flower seller, but already has a heart for boys who break through the church roof, and learns about top villain Sephiroth you also some new facet. All of this sounds exciting to you, especially considering Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the sequel to the first remake, due out in winter 2023? Well, luckily you don’t have to get an old PSP and deal with pixelated ancient graphics anymore! In December, Square Enix released a modernized remastered version for the current PlayStation and Xbox consoles, the Nintendo Switch and the PC, and it doesn’t just look good with the improved graphics!
Same hair, different hero: Hello, Zack!
First, let’s clarify what Crisis Core is about: You take on the role of Zack Fair, a young aspiring SOLDIER on Shinra that you may already know from Cloud’s memories in FFVII or the FFVII: Advent Children film adaptation. The fun-loving and self-confident fighter differs greatly in character from the grumpy, taciturn Cloud from FFVII, but apparently goes to the same hairdresser, also likes big swords and is always good for an embarrassing foreign language joke.
As Zack works with his mentor, Angeal, to promote himself to the next SOLDIER rank, something unusual happens: First, Genesis, a first-class SOLDIER, disappears without a trace on a mission. Then it also looks like Angeal is going to turn against Shinra. At Sephiroth’s side, Zack should bring light into the darkness. Of course, we won’t tell you what’s behind all this at this point, you have to find out for yourself.
Only this much: Crisis Core answers some open questions from Final Fantasy VII with its quite exciting story and illuminates topics of the RPG classic from a new perspective. Thanks to the modernization, it’s definitely fun to follow the story: the numerous in-game cutscenes, some of which are well staged, have been scaled up, and those responsible for Square have taken the trouble to re-record the dialogue passages that previously only existed in text form , so that you can now listen to all conversations with full audio.
We’ve hinted at it though: similar to FFVII, Crisis Core has a few cringe moments where you’ll stare at the screen in embarrassment because a character is making a fool of themselves by their behavior or what they’re saying. In addition, some texts do not match the events, for example when Zack enters a new area, comments on the numerous monsters present, but no creature can be seen far and wide.
The bottom line is that in the new reunion variant you can expect exactly the prequel to FFVII, which you could already gamble on the PSP 14 years ago. So the Square writers didn’t put in the extra work to match the remaster’s content with the remake’s changes to the Final Fantasy VII storyline. This could occasionally cause confusion if you’ve only seen the 2020 reboot and are playing Crisis Core for the first time.
In addition to the in-game sequences, the Square developers have also transported the pixelated PSP graphics into the here and now. You can expect detailed character and enemy models, stylishly textured environments, pretty magic effects and bombastic summons (which can be skipped at any time by pressing a button). It’s just a pity that nothing has changed in the animations. The new models still move as stiffly as the old figures, which in combination with the improved textures looks a bit strange at times.
But otherwise Crisis Core does not reach the graphic splendor of Final Fantasy VII – Remake. In any case, the remastered looks contemporary. By the way, we tested the spinoff on the Playstation 5. There we had a pleasant 60 fps in the game scenes. Unfortunately, the pre-calculated film sequences only reach 30 fps. Square not only provided the missing dialogue soundtrack, but also remixed the great soundtrack, which repeatedly creates a Final Fantasy VII atmosphere with well-known pieces.