Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
"Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion looks like a modern game, but its outdated PSP gameplay doesn't match the HD overhaul."
- Still, an intriguing story
- Fascinating DMW system
- Strong RPG customization
- Welcome visual and audio tweaks
- recurring fight
- Lengthy side missions
- Overall a dated feel
when you went awayFinal Fantasy VII Remake of 2020If you want a more faithful modernization of the classic RPG, then Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is for you.
- The core experience
- over and over
- Remake oder Remaster?
Square Enix's latest release is a safe-keeping game as if it were built to throw a bone to purists. It takes Crisis Core from 2007, aExclusive to PlayStation Portableprequel to Final Fantasy VII and refreshes it with some new graphics, quality of life improvements and a few tweaks to create parity between it and FF VII REmake. It's not an ambitious reimagining that will surprise players with narrative twists or additional content. I imagine this will be music to some fans' ears, but there's a simple reality that comes with a restoration project like this: a coat of paint is only going to do so much if it's covering up growing mold.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunionoffers a perfectly suited way for fans old and new to experience a pivotal chapter in the rich history of the RPG series. All of its upgrades are welcome and necessary additions for a remake as faithful to the original as this one; They just don't do much to help an aging portable game whose flaws only become more pronounced when camouflaged with the illusion of modernity.
The core experience
As Square Enix began its ambitious project to completely reinvent Final Fantasy VII, a Crisis Core re-release became a necessity. The PSP game was previously a world-expanding prequel that could be skipped entirely, but its narrative now plays an important role in the future of the remake universe. That's thanks to the protagonist, Zack Fair, who defies fate and sets out on a journey into the futureFinal Fantasy VII Rebirth.
But I'm anticipating. To understand why this is important, you need to know Zack's original story. This version of Crisis Core offers exactly that, making it a fundamental success regardless of your ultimate ambitions.
Fifteen years later, Zack's Saga stands out for feeling complete compared to most games of this magnitude released today.
The story of Crisis Core remains completely unchanged in Reunion, timeline shenanigans be damned. Set seven years before FF VII, it follows bright-eyed soldier Zack as he tries to rise in the ranks of Shinra's private army by hunting down a deserter named Genesis. As a prequel, the narrative always had the unenviable task of creating both a piece of connective tissue that would interest fans and a self-contained adventure that could stand up to its own merits. The former can be hit-and-miss. In his eye-rolling fan-service moments, Crisis Core goes out of the way to answer questions no one asked, like "How did Aerith get her flower wagon?"
Other pieces, however, are far more compelling. His best scenes provide crucial context for the events of Final Fantasy VII, add depth to the villainous Sephiroth, and give Cloud Strife a heartfelt backstory that expands his emotional range. Considering we're only a third of the way into the current remake experiment, the new version of Crisis Core is particularly timely. It feels less like a 2022 retcon ten years later and more like a natural interlude in a story that unfolds across multiple releases.
Although it's hard to break upcore of crisisfrom Final Fantasy VII and consider it its own story, there is value in its own right in the narrative here in revisiting. Fifteen years later, Zack's Saga stands out for feeling complete compared to most games of this magnitude released today. Because the original release was never intended to be an open-end franchise starter, Zack is given a full character arc that most game heroes just can't afford these days. While I've sometimes hoped I'd get a surprise for Final Fantasy VII Remake's shocking ending, I'm ultimately glad Square Enix stuck with the script here. In doing so, let me focus on what really moves Crisis Core: the story of a young soldier who learns that heroism is about sacrifice that may never be celebrated, not glory.
over and over
While his story is timeless, his fight hasn't quite held up - especially when placed next to thatModern Final Fantasy gamesIt has been reworked to look like this. Hacking-and-slashing is mostly a one-button affair, where I pressed my thumb on my controller until it was sore. There's a block and throw to add a bit of defense, but the repetitive nature makes fights feel a little flat overall.
A magical system helps alleviate this a little, but it cannot completely solve these problems. Zack can have up to six spells equipped at a time that consume either magic or skill points. These can bring additional strategy to combat, particularly thanks to a deep materia combo system that adds extra RPG depth, but they end up being just as monotonous by and large. If I come across an enemy that has a clearly visible Electricity weakness, I'll just spam an Electric Slam attack until I run out of skill points. There's not much incentive to shuffle attacks, even in massive boss fights.
The flat combat just isn't dynamic enough to justify so much repetitive padding.
On top of that, there's an extra layer, and that's Crisis Core's divisive Digital Mind Wave (DMW) system. During each battle there is what looks like a slot machine pinned to the top left corner of the screen. It replays battles automatically, trying to match images of characters Zack has interacted with and numbers. When the slots are properly aligned, Zack can activate Limit Breaks, use Summons, or gain buffs like invincibility for a short time. Its advantages and disadvantages are the same. It takes a lot of control away from players, which is why Zack's moveset feels so sparse. Even leveling up is frustratingly at the mercy of random spins (though there's logic as to when that triggers).
At the same time, DMW works as a high-concept idea - something the last few Final Fantasy games havereally dialed in. Crisis Core is a game about destiny, starring a character whose path has been set long before the game's launch. Zack's being at the mercy of the universe's random number generator fits his journey. Accepting that idea for what it is makes the fight more palatable. Zack's actions are controlled by an invisible force that grants him buffs that he must use. When the wheel tells me spells are free for a short time, I use that moment to heal and unleash as many spells as possible. If it tells me I'm impervious to physical damage, I'll fearlessly attack my enemy. This is my destiny.
Despite this, the combat system still feels too flimsy to sustain the entire experience, especially when it comes to sub-quests. Reunion features around 300 side missions that are nearly identical. Each sends players on a short dungeon crawl where they have to defeat a few enemies, with very little variation. They're incredibly boring, but key upgrades like extra item slots are locked behind them. The flat combat just isn't dynamic enough to justify so much repetitive padding.
The main story missions have at least a bit of variety, with fast-paced mini-games here and there, like a robotic sniper section, though even those are pretty basic interludes. I had the most fun in Reunion in menus, crafting powerful materia or tweaking my gear. However, none of that really made a difference when I jumped into battle.
Remake oder Remaster?
When I go into an older game, I always go with expectations calibrated accordingly. I don't load aSega Genesis gameand assume it will have the modern enhancements of a Nintendo Switch title. However, that expectation is shifting as the game is packaged more to look modern. When something looks like it was made in 2022 but plays like it's over a decade old, it can often make a game feel a little off. That's the problem Square Enix is running into here.
It's a chapter from one book stapled into a completely different one.
A lot of work has gone into updating Crisis Core for new consoles. Its graphics use elements from Final Fantasy VII Remake, giving it an instant edge. The UI has been improved across the board, with the DMW being much less invasive overall. The audio in particular is a highlight, with new voice acting to match Remake and fantastic new musical compositions that make the experience feel far grander than a PSP game.
But it's a PSP game.
I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Sony's handheld contained many excellent experiences (including Crisis Core) that took great care to make massive series work at a much smaller scale. The slimmed down combat and the flood of quick side quests were agood fit for the limited techniqueall the time. The reality, however, is that these design choices are difficult to separate from the platform they were designed for.
Part of the problem is that this version of Crisis Core feels stuck between a remake and a remaster. Its high-level visual makeover makes it look like a basic remake of the original, but that's a bit of an illusion. Its new assets just overpower the old ones, which is really striking given how dead-eyed the characters are and how sparsely animated everything is. Square Enix uses the words "HD remaster" very purposefully in its marketing, but it's hard to see it in that light when this is a project designed to seek parity with a wildly reimagined version of Final Fantasy VII to accomplish. It's a chapter from one book stapled into a completely different one.
Like Zack Fair, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is at the mercy of its fate. Without major changes to its structure and gameplay, the remaster's success will be determined by how well its 2007 counterpart has aged. Reunion is a textbook translation of the original, which is fantastic news for historical purists who want to experience its stellar story unaltered. For anyone who resonates with Final Fantasy VII Remake's philosophy that the world is not a static place ruled by fate, Reunion will stand out as an ideological counterpoint disguised as a compliment.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunionhas been tested on PC and Steam Deck.
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