The year is 1997. I'm in the 6th grade, worrying about passing my reading comprehension class and making the junior high football team. Times were good back then, but I didn't realize just HOW good it could get when a little RPG called Final Fantasy 7 would release on the PS1.
60+ hours of gameplay? 3 discs?!?! An emotionally resonating story that ripped your guts out with the death of a major character?!?! What was this sorcery?
That my friends, was the profound effect Final Fantasy 7 had on me and many others. I giggled with anticipation every time I discovered a new secret, a new materia, or even bred a new colored chocobo. This was an age where you needed to purchase strategy guides, because it was one of those games you wanted to truly conquer.
Marty Mcfly our way to June 15th, 2015, and Sony would once again make us feel like we did back in 1997. The Final Fantasy 7 remake is real, and we can't help but think of all the possibilities for this game. In anticipation of its release, we're putting together the five things we're most excited for.
What is the point of remaking a game like this if it doesn't have a beautiful makeover? The PS4 is a thing of beauty, and if you happened to have seen the E3 demo of Uncharted 4, you know the console is capable of producing some jaw-dropping textures. Midgar is a dank, dark, and depressing slum, and it will be fun to explore again. It's not just Midgar we're excited to see. Places like Junon, Fort Condor, and Rocket Town are just begging for new adventures.
Character models will also be a treat to see — trading their blocky, polygons for higher resolution textures will provide new life into the game we never thought possible. The new Shinra troops look menacing and violent. We simply cannot wait to bash their faces in again with Cloud's Buster sword.
Subtle Tweaks to Improve Gameplay
The battle system for FF7 is nearly perfect. The active battle system was methodical and addicting, and it's my go-to example in describing turn-based systems to RPG newcomers. Square-Enix can leave the gameplay alone and it would still be a fun experience.
That being said, I'm sure Square Enix is working on a few tweaks to mechanics. Streamlining the battle system to make encounters quicker and more efficient by cutting down on a few of the animation load times is very welcome (We're looking at you Knights of the Round). And speaking of summons, we'd be just fine with getting some additional red materia being thrown into the mix. Perhaps an upgrade system for new weapons should also be considered. The Buster sword is Cloud's iconic weapon, but everyone had to upgrade to different pieces of gear early on.
We also wouldn't be opposed to expanding the World Map and allowing us to engage enemy encounters at will, rather than by chance. Remember running away — or toward — the Midgar Zolom? We want that with all the enemies.
I feel this a two-part addition, but we are looking forward to a full, professional voice cast in the game. Nothing brings a character to life better than seeing and hearing their performance. Advent Children was a positive step in bringing these characters to life, but we had too little time to spend with the Avalanche crew.
Speaking of characters, the son of Jenova is one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Sephiroth was a very complicated, yet relatable, character. Not that mass genocide should be on anyone's to-do list, but players who dove deep into the game understood Sephiroth's motivations as the antagonist. A rejected science experiment who was then molded into the leader of Shinra's key military group, SOLDIER. I can still remember every sequence of the flashback with Cloud/Zach, and cannot wait to see how it is re-done. As they say in any great action piece, your film is only as good as its villain. Sephiroth is a great villain.
Lastly, the music of the game is something we're all very eager to hear again. Nobuo Uematsu's original score smacks so many memories out of us, but it's unknown if he will end up joining the project. His name isn't attached, but his score is so iconic, we would be just fine with having a fully orchestrated score with the original pieces playing underneath.
Meeting the foul-mouthed hillbilly from Rocket Town, Cid, was one of the more lighthearted and welcome moments of the game. Getting to ride his airship, the Highwind, was stunning. Riding the Highwind completely changed the way you traverse the world, and that same moment of shock and awe should be inherent when you finally get to pilot it in the remake. If the new FF7 is going to get the proper treatment, The Highwind will play a key role in transporting us around the world. The only downside to this type of traversal is the World Map will have to be even further expanded. I mean, we're talking Witcher 3 expansive. Which we're totally cool with by the way.
This is probably the biggest thing we're most anticipating in the remake. A lot of fans were quick to jump the gun when director Tetsuya Nomura said the game's play and story will be adjusted for the remake. Do not fret, people. This is actually one of the best pieces of news to hear. Here's why:
Looking back at the original FF7, some things have aged incredibly well … other things, not so much. While the game is known for its charming moments, other moments like seeing Cloud cross-dress may be a bit more difficult to pull off, especially since the remake is going for a more modern approach. We know Nomura mentioned he wants to include that particular sequence into the game, and we think it can be pulled off, but not to the depths it was handled in the original.
As for other creative liberties that will likely occur, we have complete faith it will be done in great taste. Just look at another popular remake like 2002's Resident Evil for the Gamecube. The original RE was a game that defined not only a console, but an entire gaming survival horror genre (sorry Alone in the Dark/Silent Hill fans). There was plenty of trepidation amongst the fan-base, but the remake was handled with great care, providing a fleshed out and tense experience. It was so popular, in fact, people are still begging for a remake of the more popular RE2 (seriously, get on it Capcom).
The liberties taken with the RE remake were fresh ideas that brought about some of the more unnerving experiences we've ever had in a survival horror game. Lisa Trevor was one of these fresh ideas. Her introduction was absolutely terrifying, and the entire sequence in the cabin off the mansion grounds provided a completely unique sense of dread. Not only that, her creation wasn't just for a cheap scare, as her background in the overall narrative tied so well to the origins of the Spencer mansion, it's now considered canon in the Resident Evil mythology.
The Resident Evil remake proved creative liberties can work, but it can go wrong if creators take an approach similar to Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. It was a different development team from the original, but it's important to bring it up nonetheless. What made the original Metal Gear Solid standout was its stellar story and cinematic approach. It also felt somewhat grounded in a sense of realism with its handling of authentic military terminology, weapons, and tactics. The developers behind Twin Snakes jumped the shark in this aspect, by re-stylizing all of the cutscenes to include bombastic moments that were just to insane to buy into (we're looking at you Snake jumping off a Hind D missile). Hopefully, Square Enix can tread a fine line between over, and under-selling.
The point is there is a case to be made that creative liberties can be a good thing. We're pushing 20 years since the release of FF7 and games are being taken way more serious these days. By no means should the entire FF7 remake be an over-dramatic piece like what we saw with Advent Children, but it should be a fine balance of drama, charm, and fun.
Honorable Mention: Gold Saucer
We can still hear the theme song of this place in our heads. Don't you? Listen to it! Listen!!!
Did you lose hours upon hours of time playing the various mini-games like the roller-coaster laser game? What about training for the Battle Square Colosseum which introduced us to in-game modifiers? The Gold Saucer is side-quest heaven, and it's such an impressionable setting that we can't wait to lose ourselves in it once again. We just hope we can get full-on Chocobo Race Course tournaments.
Obviously, we're very excited with what's to come, and can't wait to see what Nomura and his team bring us. Just be patient everyone. It'll be worth the wait.