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The Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Remaster Is Very Faithful To The PSP Original
Platform(s): PS5 (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action RPG that takes place before Final Fantasy VII
You can always count on a JRPG factory like Square Enix to go back to the well and revive its past classics, as well as charge a handful for them. Look at the many ports of Final Fantasy Tactics as proof of that (PSP, mobile, etc.). But at the very least, we do get gems from decades past; this includes the Live-A-Live remake, Tactics Ogre: Reborn and the most-requested Final Fantasy VII spin-off,
Dirge of Cerberus Crisis Core.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion’s plot is still the same as the 2008 PlayStation Portable original: you play as Zack Fair, a member of SOLDIER who is given missions from Shinra while also dealing with insurgents and traitors within the group. Yes, this is the same Zack Fair who was Cloud’s friend in the original Final Fantasy VII before he bought the Gongaga farm years before the story started. Crisis Core is a prequel, delving into plot items brought in FFVII’s past and how they happened in Zack’s point-of-view. That means you’ll see Cloud pre-SOLDIER, Sephiroth before he became FFVII’s big bad, and even other characters that help form the foundation that leads to part 7’s lore.
You’ll also get to play around and experience the very first time a Final Fantasy title takes the real-time action route with a bit of JRPG turn-based menu shenanigans in the mix. But unlike Dirge of Cerberus, this one is actually good and worth spending tons of hours on. See, Zack Fair is a one-man army with awesome special attacks with his big sword of choice and a plethora of Materia-powered spells like Fira and Blizzard. As such, he can take care of rogue soldiers from warring armies, Final Fantasy staple beasties, and the giant Bahamut or two. Speaking of Materia, you’ll get tons of these for your skills and magic, as well as the ability to fuse them for brand-new skills and spells. Need a physical and fire skill in a jiffy? Just combine a Fira material with a Power Attack and you’ll get a Fira Blade.
Next to that, he has the oblique Digital Mind Wave (DMW) system: as he fights, the top roulette machine will roll and deliver random results. Combinations of the same images or different sequences will net you random powerups ranging from passive “infinite mana/AP” buffs to special high-damage moves you can activate once prompted.
These are accompanied by good memories in Zack’s mind from past encounters and do help with the narrative without dumping walls of text to your face. But the crux is you’re really just getting random power-ups to help you with certain fights. While the DMW system is random as heck, they’re fun to watch and at least they don’t hamper you too much as you still need to rely on your action and spellcasting skills to get ahead. Plus, Square Enix removed the flow-killing modulating phases from the PSP original which speeds up the DMV effects and mini-flashbacks faster.
And you’ll get plenty of opportunities to experience the DMW system and get the hang of the simple-yet-fun-and-challenging-at-times battle system, as this then-2009 title still has the same amount of random encounters and challenges to overwhelm you. Veterans will be fine with this, but new players jumping in after the Final Fantasy VII Remake to see what the deal is about Cloud’s senpai will not be too happy with the frequency of these battles and challenges.
This being a direct remaster, it’s understandable that Square Enix wants to preserve the original while giving it a nice coat of paint and lovely quality-of-life additions (like buying items on-the-go and the aforementioned modulation phase removal). That being said, some of the game’s dialogue can feel outdated and could use a bit of modernization especially if you want to veer away from the “early 2000s” era of speaking and awkward pauses. But if you like all of that, more power to you!
True, the new VO changes for the in-game segments & the dated dialogue feel jarring, but that’s mostly for super-fans of the series who played the PSP original back in the hi-definition era of gaming. As it stands, you won’t find a more faithful remaster than the FFVII prequel here, which is responsible for the trends and genre gameplay updates that are carried forward by the likes of Final Fantasy XV and even Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Even if you somehow have access to a PSP in the year of our lord 2022, you might as well spend the extra money on this remaster as it makes the original version pretty obsolete.
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