Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion is more than just a remaster

As Final Fantasy fans wait patiently Final Fantasy VII revival (or maybe they are more interested in Final Fantasy XVI?), there’s another action-packed Final Fantasy revival that will try to bail you out. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is remaking the PSP original for today’s platforms, giving it another chance to steal the spotlight.

Set seven years before Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core unfolds the backstory of this world, with Zack Fair, SOLDIER 2nd Class as the protagonist. Starting right at the end of the Shinra-Wutai War, Zack quickly finds himself drawn into a fight to defeat a defecting SOLDIER and unravel the Jenova Project.

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Living in the gray area between a remake and a remaster, Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion feels a bit underwhelming in places. This is a recreation of the original in Unreal Engine 4, with new 3D models and modernized lighting and effects, and you can absolutely see it. While I haven’t played the PSP original, briefly comparing this remake to a Let’s Play series shows how the remake is making leaps forward in terms of quality. We’re not talking about FF7 Remake’s cutting-edge graphics, but the environments feel much more detailed, the lighting looks good, and the character models feel almost modern.

That said, you can also see the limits of the scope of this new version. Cutscenes are now fully voiced, but as Reunion renders camera angles, dialogue, and interactions, you’ll see the exact same animations. That may be nostalgic, but it seems a bit cheap here, especially when the dialogue is paired with a fairly basic mouth movement and eyebrow animation for mood.

The biggest changes (outside of graphics) come with the combat. While the PSP original has a fairly fixed camera during battle encounters, making up for that system’s only analog stick, Reunion switches to a tracking camera. There is also a modernized user interface that seems to have taken a half step towards that of Final Fantasy VII Remake.

While the tracking camera will bring more immediacy to the battle, the fundamentals of combat remain the same. This is an action RPG with Zack able to move freely around an arena, locking onto targets if he chooses, dodging many of the lighter incoming attacks, and unleashing a variety of his own. That’s backed up by Materia abilities which, at this early point in the game, add some useful elemental status effects to the mix, and then Limit Break cinematic attacks.

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Gathering Summon

Alongside this is Digital Mind Wave (DMW), which acts as some kind of dumb slot machine that is constantly running in the corner. When you match character pictures and then you can perform a Limit Break attack (this is at your command, rather than automatic) or if you get ‘777’ then Zack levels up, which is particularly wild when all games sensible RPGs will. do this once you’ve gained experience points, and not when the game sits semi-randomly.

Our demo with the game was based on a volcanic battle against Ifrit, which pushed me to be a little sensible with my attack lunge, and I used the blizzard to weaken him when I could. Ifrit is an enemy large and powerful enough to perform attacks throughout the arena, returning to a charged state and displaying an ability power meter above them. The idea is to dash in, deal as much damage as possible, and reduce or completely nullify the amount of damage they can do. React too slowly and you’ll get hit, but counterattack long enough and it’ll leave them stunned and exposed to even more damage.

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Meeting Ifrit

Overall, while not as ambitious as some of the remakes we’ve seen in recent years, Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion is a solid modernization of a game that would otherwise fade into obscurity. There are plenty of reasons for FF7 fans to want to pick this up when it launches in December.

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