‘Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 Reunion’ review: Zack to the future
Bbefore you dived into materia Crisis Core Reunionnote: unlike Square Enix’s latest series of Final Fantasy VII reimaginings, this is a remaster – not a complete remake. That means that under a makeover worthy of Midgar’s Honeybee Inn, this is still the same 2007 PSP game – and while Buster Sword might add fancy new reflections, you’re still swinging the same clumsy bastard around.
That said, it’s a testament to the original Crisis coreEndurance it Reunion works so well. There are some growing pains, but for the most part, anyone returning to this game will find it just as they remember it, while newcomers will find a game that looks and plays amazingly well for a 15-year-old game.
Crisis core is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII and follows Zack Fair, a soldier in megacorp Shinra’s private army (subtly called SOLDIERS). When Genesis, one of SOLDIER’s best fighters, malfunctions with an alarming amount of cloning equipment in tow, it’s up to Zack to put a stop to his plans. Zack is young, naive and ambitious, and dreams of becoming one of the SOLDIER’s elite – and in his heart, he just wants to be a hero like his peer Sephiroth. If that’s ringing any alarm bells, you might already have Shinra sussed – Zack’s employer isn’t going to win any Best Place To Work awards.
Crisis coreThe story revolves around Zack’s growing disillusionment and a lingering question: what does it mean to be a hero? It’s a narrative that has held up particularly well, mainly because Final Fantasy VII has become one of the most famous games since the Mega Drive adaptation of Sliced Bread: you’ll feel star-struck when sad-boy trailblazer Sephiroth takes you under his wing, and cheer when some of Final Fantasy VIIThe biggest characters make a surprise appearance. If this is your first time in Midgar, it can be confusing – the action rolls along with very little in the way of an introduction, and some of the dialogue can feel a bit clunky and over-the-top – but that’s rectified by Crisis coreits convincing cast, a charismatic group that will convince even the freshest Final Fantasy fan to follow along.
As for how Crisis Core Reunion player, it leans towards the more interactive, busier style than modern Final Fantasy games have embraced. Combat is a real-time hack-and-slash, letting Zack dash around slashing enemies to ribbons, only pausing to hurl magic or gulp down a potion. Earlier in the game, it starts off a bit simple – enemies have their elemental weakness clearly highlighted, and stabbing them in the back for critical attacks will melt their health bar in no time – but it gets far more interesting as Crisis core continues.
There are a few reasons for that – the first being Crisis core‘s only real quirk, which is a large slot machine attached to the top left of the screen while Zack is in battle. The machine is an endless spin of faces from Zack’s life, and as he meets new characters, they are added to his bizarre mind casino. Triples are best, unlocking animated Focus Moves depending on who appears: three Sephiroths allow Zack to use the One-Winged Angel’s infamous Octoslash attack, while Aerith will provide a powerful healing ability. Defeating some of the game’s summoned bosses—giant, elemental demons—will also add them to Zack’s arsenal, meaning you’ll go further into Crisis core you get, the more varied and exciting it will be.
Similarly, Zack can mix his materials to create new spells or abilities – sword attacks can be imbued with elemental damage, for example, or you can upgrade your standard fireball with a splash of poison. Although Crisis core is largely a linear game, and branching out to fully explore an area will often reward you with more material to play with, while completing optional missions (usually consisting of quick, easy battles) at Crisis coreThe saving points can give Zack more summons and equipment.
But, Crisis Core Reunionits greatest strength—bringing the original game into modern times without twisting it into something entirely new—is also its greatest weakness. You don’t have to look hard to see that this is still a 2007 game: cutscenes can sometimes look blurry and out of focus, and characters will often roll off their lines without moving their lips. Visually, there is grime on the surface – not nearly bad enough to get in the way of enjoyment Crisis core – but unfortunately, other parts of the now-dated game’s design offer a bigger obstacle. Crisis core is a largely linear game, and levels can feel like claustrophobic conveyor belts, transporting Zack between endless battles with little room to breathe. Consequently, the same environments that wowed us on the PSP are no longer as vibrant, and some can feel stiff.
That said, 15 years has done nothing to age Midgar. The rain-slick cobbled paths of Loveless Street look excellent, lit by gleaming broadway advertisements, while Shinra’s holdings – and their pale, sickly green lights – look better than ever. That’s really the crux of it Crisis Core Reunion: behind a phenomenal paint job, this is still a 15-year-old game – and luckily, it’s just an incredible one.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion launches on December 13 for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch. This review was played on PC.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is a faithful, exciting remaster that pays tribute to one of Square Enix’s finest stories. Although some clunky level design suggests that Square Enix’s remaster has been faithful to a fault, a gorgeous visual upgrade – combined with a poignant tale of disillusionment and what it means to be a hero – makes this an essential play for Final Fantasy fans.
- An emotional story that throws Final Fantasy VII in a richer light
- The battles are fast-paced and frenetic
- Everything looks amazing – it’s magical to see a 15 year old game look this good
- Outdated design quirks can make some levels feel stiff
- Voice acting can be hit or miss