As a prequel to one of the most popular video game stories of all time, it's important that Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion tells its own prequel story without disrupting the thematic context of the story that spawned it. Succeeds? Mostly. Reunion stands out for being a great RPG and a phenomenal remaster. Yet its story choices, much like they did when the game originally released on the PSP, all too often stomp on the Final Fantasy VII plot, trying to fill it with shenanigans drawn from many of the themes and central characters of the game distract VII. Crisis Core selfishly indulges in its own contributions to the mythos of VII by not learning what made the original 1997 Final Fantasy VII so impactful and beautifully tragic. Still, it's a game not to be missed because, despite all its late stage flaws, many of its characters are still hard to love, and they're wrapped in an exciting and very pretty RPG.
Crisis Core returns to us as Reunion: a remaster of a PSP game first released in 2007 as a prequel to 1997's Final Fantasy VII, a generation-defining titan of a JRPG. The PSP-exclusive UMD discs that Crisis Core will ship on have never received a digital release on PlayStation Store and are the sole custodians of a very important chapter in the game's larger saga.
Today, Crisis Core wakes up from its slumber and awakens in a completely different world. In the 15 years since the game's initial release, we've seen a complete reimagining of Final Fantasy VII's opening chapter with Remake. As narrative, this 2020 version of VII brought us extended and questionable story beats; As a video game, it offered a remarkable form of real-time, command-based combat. With Reunion, Crisis Core no longer just exists alongside the original Final Fantasy VII. It can now stand on its own as a beautiful JRPG that might even balance out Remake's unique twists and turns, at the expense of perhaps distracting themes in the original Final Fantasy VII 1997
Before I discuss individual elements of Reunion, I want to emphasize how outstanding it is as a remaster. Compared to similar remasters like Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (also a PSP game) or even X, XII and VIII remasters, Reunion plants its flag in the ground as the new standard for Final Fantasy game remasters (if any). games in general). Reunion often looks so good you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd play a modern AAA title from time to time, and it runs flawlessly on PC (something we don't always think of as Final Fantasy games). can of course see).
Reunion doesn't surpass Final Fantasy VII: Remake in visual quality, but it certainly comes close in many ways. Add to that the all-new menu and UI elements that take cues from the remake's theme, and a smooth, liberated twist on Crisis Core's combat system, and it's Creative Director Tetsuya Nomura's turnClassification of Reunionas being "closer to a remaster than a remake" seems a little unfair to Reunion. Keeping all the beats of Crisis Core's main storyline (unlike remake with FFVII) largely prevents this from being a full remake. And honestly, I wish they'd reworked that story.
But before we get into that, let's address what many might be most concerned about: since Crisis Core was originally designed for on-the-go play and featured a somewhat experimental combat system, how does it fare now as a full console game? While I think Reunion is still best experienced on a portable device like the Switch or Steam Deck, it works just as well on a big screen as it does in a more theatrical presentation. The fast-paced side missions, limited size of combat environments, and some level layouts clearly show that this was designed for a smaller scale and is therefore a more natural fit for a tiny, portable experience. Yet these hardly make you feel like you're playing anything wildly out of time and place.
The main story is a roughly 18-hour experience (which you definitely shouldn't cram into a weekend - ask me how I know). Crisis Core follows the story of Zack Fair. If you haven't played through the original Final Fantasy VII and think that Zack looks like Cloud with black hair, you're not wrong. Without giving too much away, it's important to know that Zack plays a crucial role in the events leading up to Final Fantasy VII. In Crisis Core - Reunion, you guide Zack through a twisting narrative revolving around genetically enhanced super soldiers and various disasters that unfold. There's a main story to follow and plenty of side missions to dig into for quick fights and focused grinding sessions.
The heart of the game lies in its main quest, which leads up to the opening of the original Final Fantasy VII (or maybe remake, depending on how you view certain artistic changes to Crisis Core). The side missions, which can be accessed from almost every save point, are mostly just quick sprints through environments to fight a handful of battles (although some later have longer, more challenging encounters). They tie into the narrative, but only in the brief explanatory text visible in the mission select menu. But don't turn them down. They allow you to isolate your grinding while also being a bite-sized way to check in and out of the game. I would have preferred to keep all the grinding in these side missions, but unfortunately, Reunion suffers from far too frequent random encounters during narrative levels.
Like Final Fantasy VII, Reunion uses "materia," magical globes of earth that grant the use of spells as well as increased combat abilities, utilities, and stat boosts. You can choose what Materia you use in Zack, and these magic orbs can also level up and even be fused together to create new Materia. Want a thunder spell? Equip Thunder Material and you can now cast it by holding a command key and pressing the face key you assigned it to. You can basically design your own control layout, with five different "sets" of materia and button commands available for different builds of your design. While you can't switch these sets on the fly, you can change them when you're not in combat or when rebooting after a game. It's mechanically rewarding as an RPG spec system and very easily accessible in real-time combat.
And these spells also have a surprising amount of physicality, so much so that the usual rock-paper-scissors aspect of elemental magic common to most RPGs isn't the only thing to consider. Take Blizzard, for example, an ice-based magic attack. When cast, it forms a large ice crystal over an enemy's head and drops it on them to deal damage. When you cast this and an enemy moves, they basically dodge your spell attack. This means that not only can you spam buttons, but you have to anticipate and study the enemy's movements. Another example is Thunder, which gives Zack a Star Wars-y Force Blitz-like attack that only has a range of a few yards. You can easily cast this to no effect if an enemy isn't in range.
This has the benefit of making combat dynamic and somewhat unpredictable. It's not quite as lively and fluid as the combat in Remake, but it certainly feels more engaging and responsive than even the original PSP version - although much of that is due to improved character models and animations. Dodging and blocking also play a pretty important role. However, sometimes those spinning slots in the top corner of the screen will give you random boosts, meaning you don't have to block as often.
Which brings us to DMW or Digital Mind Wave. In my opinion, Crisis Core's unique slot-based combat system is a little less taxing and distracting than in the PSP original. Gone is the "modulating phase" of the original version that ended the fight. However, the Digital Mind Wave remains with its random slot-like chance for you to get bonuses like HP boosts or temporary invincibility. This adds another layer of unpredictability to the fight that not only showers you with gifts but challenges you to make the most of what he gives you. DMW gave you unlimited MP? Then it's time to hit those healing spells or spam your best damaging materia. Invincibility? It's time to jump in and attack your enemies without worrying about your health.
If the portraits in the Digital Mind Wave all match, say three instances of Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII's antagonist) or Angeal (Zack's mentor), you gain access to a Limit Break (or Summon if it's a summoned portrait). ). Limit breaks relate to the character whose portrait matches, and you can hear them giving Zack some sort of pep talk when you trigger them. Sephiroth grants an Omnilash-like ability (the ultimate transgression in Final Fantasy VII); Aerith grants full healing (like her Limit Break in VII), and so on. You can earn "SP" for feeding into this system, but here's the secret: You can also largely ignore the whole slots thing and just play this like a command-based action RPG.
Seriously, for most of my playthrough I just let these slots do their thing, occasionally noticing that a limit break was ready or that I had a random buff on my stats. I was worried that this slots thing would be some other weird system that I would have to manage, but you don't have to. It's just a visible RNG system in a solid action RPG.
The DMW is also narratively consistent. A major theme in Final Fantasy VII is memory and identity. The characters' perspectives and memories of who they are and who they are in relation to other characters define their motivations. The story of Final Fantasy VII is essentially about characters who must understand that they are shaped and defined by their interactions with one another and that they must come together to meet the challenges of a world in crisis.
No character is an island even if they think they are. The promises, hopes, and failures that the characters share with each other, and how those memories emerge (and are misused by a particular antagonistic force) and unfold are a central part of VII. This is brought into combat through a system that Inspiration and memory connects. This turns each limit violation into not just an ultimate cast, but a window into how different characters shaped and influenced Zack.
We start the game with Zack as a formidable young man with "unattainable goals". Drawing on memories of his mentor, his friends, or his romantic desires, each breach of boundaries shows what he is fighting for. And that's what makes Crisis Core successful as a tragic work, despite my plot issues. Zack is hopeful and confident, not just because those are his traits, but because he draws inspiration from those around him. Therefore, he is a hero, defined by those who made him one and by those who see him as one. It's not because he's your main character with the big sword, it's because he never, ever thinks about the people in his life. And that sets him apart dramatically from VII's protagonist, Cloud Strife. In VII, Cloud has to learn how important it is to be connected to others. But unfortunately, Crisis Core's narrative invades VII a little too much.
Ultimately, for all its strengths, Crisis Core is too self-obsessed to serve as the perfect prequel. The game's core narrative is an excellent half or three-quarter story. However, the final story arc fails to realize that VII is its own story with its own characters. Crisis Core's portrayal of VII's characters and its refusal to stop pushing new characters into existing narratives makes for a disappointing conclusion.
Crisis Core should be taken seriously as its promises are serious. If you've played Final Fantasy VII, then you know that this chapter of the story shows us the person Cloud, the protagonist of VII, thought he was: Zack Fair. We play as Zack until the final fight in which he is killed, leaving Cloud alone, confused by trauma and some sci-fi magic mumbo-jumbo that leads him to believe that Zack's memories and even his identity belong to him to inherit and imitate.
Unfortunately, much like 2007, Crisis Core seems more interested in reconnecting VII than contributing to the original, much-loved story. This is particularly notable in the Nibelheim chapter, which begins very much like a sequence set in the same location in Final Fantasy VII. The game's immortal villain, Genesis, who repeats the same lines in almost every scene he's in, shows up (out of nowhere) in the reactor housing the FFVII menace Jenova... to keep repeating the same lines over and over again and to repeat again and again. If we score points, this will be the third time that this particular scene is re-explained for the player: once in Final Fantasy VII through Cloud's false memories. Again when Cloud is finally ready to understand that Zack was actually in his place during those scenes. Now Crisis Core wants to add that not only was Zack there, but also Genesis, who isn't an antagonist in VII. It denies VII the authority to tell the story and is an unnecessary rework. Genesis is a good antagonist for half of Crisis Core, but he's not a suitable antagonist for VII, implying Crisis Core by putting him in VII's own scenes.
Unfortunately, the end result of Crisis Core is an over-complication of the story established in Final Fantasy VII, filled with various details that just mean more history lessons and homework to be able to understand everything. Its immortal antagonists and unsolvable plot points (the fate of Genesis is uncertain at the end) weaken the role of Death. When we consider that so much of what made Final Fantasy VII so impressive was the irreversible death of an important character, it's hard to leave Crisis Core with the impression that everything in this world matters or is lost could.
https://kotaku.com/final-fantasy-vii-7-crisis-core-remake-reunion-review-1849889966 Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII