Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Review - 20/06/2008

Final Fantasy's first "real" game appears in handheld gaming exclusively for the PSP system. FFVII: Crisis Core is the prequel to Final Fantasy VII, widely regarded as the greatest FF game to date by fans of the series.

When I say CC is the first "real" FF game for handheld enthusiasts, I mean it is the first proper 3D RPG produced by Square Enix for the console. Previous forays include Final Fantasy Tactics and remakes of the old games Final Fantasy 1 & 2. As previously mentioned the events in Crisis Core take place before the events of FFVII and end just as that begins. The game centres around the story of Zack Fair, a Second Class SOLDIER (promoted to first class during the game) that's serves the all powerful Shinra Organisation. Zack will be known to gamers who played FFVII as he appears as part of Cloud's past in the original game.

Players take the role of Zack as he attempts to unravel a mysterious plot that seems to have surfaced within the SOLDIER organisation. In the beginning of the game, after a training mission, Zack and his friend/mentor Angeal, who is a SOLDIER First Class, are sent to put an end to the war between the Wutai and the Shinra Organisation. It has also been said that another First Class SOLDIER named Genesis has left the organisation, taking with him a lot of Shinra weapons and a few Second and Third Class SOLDIERS. As the game progresses the player uncovers that Genesis has been making copies of himself and using the stolen weapons to level villages and kill their populations. Suddenly Angeal goes missing and it is said that he has joined Genesis, the two having grown up together as best friends. As Zack you must uncover the truth to the matter.

The definitive FF experience on handheld.

Throughout the game the player will meet characters from the original FFVII, including the likes of Sephiroth who is a SOLDIER hero, main character Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart. These characters will interact and bond with Zack aiding the development of the plotline and mission development.

Crisis Core introduces a new battle system for players to get to grip with called Digital Mind Wave (or DMW) which basically focuses upon a series of three reels located in the top left corner of the screen. These revolve all through battles provided you have enough soldier points to keep them going. In the reels appear pictures of other game characters like Sephiroth and Angeal (more are unlocked as you progress through the game), and when three pictures of the same character align, it sends Zack into a special move. Also each reel has numbers and if all three reels obtain the same number (for example a 7) then Zack either goes up a level, or one of his attacks does (thus gaining in strength). Apart from this new addition the gameplay is a mixture of command and menu based actions. During battles you select the action you wish to perform (attack with your sword, perform magic like fire or heal, or use an item) by selecting it with the left or right shoulder buttons, and pressing [X] to carry it out. The actions available depend on what you have selected from the materia menu (activated by pressing [triangle] when free roaming). You acquire new materia as you progress through the game, which are in the forms of spells, physical attacks, or accessories that you can equip (accessories give Zack stat boosts like +10 health). Depending on which you assign to the three available slots, these are the ones you will have at your disposal during battle.

The gameplay graphics are pretty good too.

The game is played from a 3rd person perspective and is your usual RPG with your character rising levels the more he fights and items being found around the levels. However, being on the PSP there isn't really an open world for you to explore as the game basically guides you in the direction you need to go without there being any choices of direction for you to make. On a regular console this linear style may be unforgivable but on a handheld it takes nothing away from the game's quality. The game evolves in two ways, you can either choose to do the missions that link to the story and thus advance the plot (done by talking to the important characters that will give you your missions) or you can take part in other missions (accessed from the menu when at a checkpoint) which basically pit you against a horde of enemies that you must defeat. This way you can gain invaluable experience points and items that will come in handy in the story battles. Thus, if you are stuck on a story mission, doing a few of these side missions to raise your level may help you.

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Square Enix
Square Enix