We have been able to enjoy the return of Zack and play a preview of Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion, here are our impressions!
We live in the era of remakes and remasters. Final Fantasy 7, one of the greatest RPGs in history, is a good example of this with its recent remake (which has left no one indifferent). Although our curiosity was fired when Square Enix announced the revamped version of Crisis Core, its prequel, for Nintendo Switch and other platforms. And even more so when we were offered the opportunity to try it. Yes, we have played Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion at an event recently organized by Square Enix in London, and our first impressions They have been better than expected.
Zack Fair, SOLDIER First Class
But, what is this about Crisis Core and what exactly is it about? Without going into spoiler territory (if talking about the history of one of the most famous games in the world 25 years after it came out can be considered as such), we could say that it is the game that reflects what really happened before the events of Final Fantasy 7. A prequel.
This title was released on PSP in 2007 and changed protagonist, going from the blond Cloud Strife to Zack Fair, a First Class SOLDIER whose existence conditioned Cloud’s life. The story is quite well known by now, although at the time he managed to offer the occasional Nomura-style twist with characters like Angeal or Genesis. And, of course, there was a good dose of that sefirot that has generated nightmares in the community Smash Bros..
We have doubts to what extent it makes sense to launch precisely this title at this time. The original wanted to tie up loose ends and managed to loosen another 300 more. The version that arrives now, which it is neither remake nor remaster according to its creators, it seems follow in the footsteps of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and, whoever has completed said remake, will know that Zack’s story now… should change.
But we’re not going to go in there right now. Crisis Core swapped turn-based combat for real-time action, the open and large structure of a traditional RPG for a structure of relatively fast missions that fit with the portable nature of PSP, brought higher quality cinematic sequences, a memorable OST and a graphic section that gave soup with slingshots to the original FFVII. It was candy for the fans. Now, it comes to Switch and other consoles with the promise of not altering its history (Ha!), but with the desire to offer a rounder and more polished experience.
Does it comply? If the little we have been able to prove is an example, it will not disappoint.
Renovated outside and inside
The first thing to mention is that we have not been able to test the Nintendo Switch versionthat seems to be quite a technical marvel. The demo that we have tried, on PlayStation 5, focused on combat and allowed us to experience the final stretch of a Zack mission in the Wutai region, with his respective encounter with a very young Yuffie and even a battle with one of the summons most famous of all Final Fantasy: ifrit himself.
Having played the PSP original, the differences are obvious before you even start playing. Square Enix has revamped all menus to have appearance and structure similar to those of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. There is a pretty clear intention in this, and that is that they want to unify everything under the umbrella of the new narrative of the original FFVII, to achieve a more cohesive whole.
we gave a quick review of the menu to see what few materials we had available and we noticed something that we checked in combat. Now, magic can be used with a combination of buttons (ZL + B, A, X, etc. on Switch), while objects are accessible through a menu available in real time, and in which you move by pressing L or R (used with A on Switch, Circle in PS). They are small tweaks that affect Zack’s possibilities, but above all they seek speed up combat.
The difference from the original is palpable, Zack feels more agile at the controls. Although he can cover himself from enemy attacks, in the end abusing the roll button is inevitable thanks to that little extra speed he has in this version. Also, the speed with which he chains attacks, which now they do feel like real combosmakes close combat much faster and more fun than in the Crisis Core original (and yes, attacking the enemy from behind is still vital to do more damage).
Another system that characterizes the battles and that remains almost the same in Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion, and that has left us with mixed impressions, is the Modulation Phase (PWD). In the upper left corner there is still that slots with characters and numbers which causes all kinds of effects. It can make your spells consume no MP, trigger special attacks or even sequences during combat. Oh, and you need to level up by rolling a 7 7 7!
It was nonsense in the PSP version and now still causing confusion. It is still a random element that alters the rhythm of combat in an RPG. Although not everything is bad, at least now you can choose when to use the special attacks you unlock, pressing X on Switch (Triangle on PS). In the original Crisis Core they were activated automatically, turning battles into pure gibberish.
We understand that this mechanic is something key in the game, even at the plot level, but it impoverishes the gameplay. The team has dared to make changes in everything else, even has made enemy special attacks avoidablesince its damage can be reduced or even nullify them if the loading bar is emptied it appears before the time runs out. Also could have dared with this “slot machine”.
One small step for a remake, one big step for a remaster
It only takes a few seconds at the controls to notice that Square Enix has focused primarily on what Crisis Core Meeting not only look modern in the graphic section, also in its mechanics. The combat has been tweaked enough to be less clunky and much more satisfying, not to mention spectacular.
And yes, it is evident that the game looks much better now. The models have been touched up, and we would say that Zack has undergone minor changes to better fit with the lines of FFVII Remake. The textures, the particle effects, the lighting… Almost everything has received a brutal face liftincluding the English dub, although the demo we played had Japanese voiceovers.
We have to emphasize that almost everything, because animations have been preserved almost 100% and they are the most out of tune with the rest, especially the facial expressions. In addition, the pre-recorded videos look washed out and they also don’t quite fit the game, like Ifrit’s special attack, Hellfire. In fact, the cinematic sequences preserve the shots and almost the same transitions as the original work. Viewed on a big screen, in high definition and in such detail, it feels dated, although it was something we expected. After all, and although Square Enix has given it more love than usual, this title is still something that is halfway between the remaster and the remake.
Of course, we would have liked to see how the result would have been if they had gone all out and given it the same treatment as Final Fantasy 7 Remakebut Crisis Coredespite being very important for the ‘lore’, was in its time a second row launch due to its portable nature. Still, it’s still a joy to know that we’ll be reliving Zack’s story with a nice modern twist.
We are left with the desire to try the Switch version of Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunionalthough it aims to be surprisingly good, still, our impressions could not be more positive. There are some aspects that overshadow its finish at an audiovisual level, but in the demo that we have tried, the changes in its mechanics give it the touch that was needed to surpass the original. Now, the wait until December 13 is going to be much longer. Especially for the doubts of knowing how it will fit into the “new” story that Square Enix is counting on Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aeris and company.
Impressions of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion made with a demo version for PS5 available at Square Enix Plays.