If you were a teenager in 1997, the chances are pretty good you played the original Final Fantasy 7, created by Square Enix. Virtually everyone who owned a PlayStation 1 did. The present day result is, as would be expected, an army of now middle-aged gamers who have a strong nostalgia for a 1997 classic.
But lest we forget, the game, although fondly remembered, did came out in a time when online pokies were barely a reality. Which is to say there is much that could be done with an updated version, with a new generation of talented developers making use of drastically improved technical capability. Hence the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
One can only imagine that the developers of the remake must have been sweating bullets. A single wrong step, be it for best intentions or not, could well result in a brutal mauling by nostalgia-riddled fans. Fans that, in many cases, are probably remembering the original far better than it really is. This is the curse of nostalgia, and likewise the curse of trying to recreate something that mostly lives in fan’s memories.
But for the most part, fans need not despair. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a bold, smart retelling of an intriguing story, and although not especially faithful to the original, is a 100% a worthy successor.
A Different Perspective
By far the biggest complaint purist fans of the original will have is that the remake’s epic, sprawling story does not stick to the original. At least, it doesn’t for the most part. The basic plot points have been kept, but the developers have decided to do something rather unexpected. They’ve fleshed out the original story to a rather astonishing degree. Sort of like taking a page of notes, and fleshing those notes out into fully fledged, exhaustively detailed saga.
A prime example is the game’s opening. In the original, Cloud, a mercenary from a group called SOLDIER, helps a band of quirky eco-terrorists blow up a Mako reactor. The reactor siphons energy from the planet, and repurposes it to power the city of Midgar. The event plays out, the reactor is blown up, and players are quickly swept along to the next adventure.
A Simple Story Told Better
The remake, however, takes a very different approach. After the reactor is blown up, the player must then walk through the streets of Midgar. Devastation can be seen in every direction, children are in tears, residents fall to their knees in horror, trying to comprehend the level of destruction.
This extremely important change more or less sums up how the remake differs from the original. The remake is, essentially, expanding on a world that only ever really existed in broad, vague strokes. Fans may not appreciate the changes, but in complaining, those fans would also be ignoring the incredible artistic achievements of a new team of developers.
But story aside, the gameplay has also been given a major overhaul. The turn based, menu driven combat system of the original has been replaced. Although, this change had already occurred in the multiple franchise entries that have come since 1997. The turn based combat was scrapped long ago, but with developers at least attempting to stick true to the concepts of the original system.
This gave birth to a sort of hybrid combat system, letting players run around in real time, but only letting them attack after a time requirement had been fulfilled. Final Fantasy 7 Remake uses a similar system, but with a few very important tweaks. The new combat is controlled by an Active Time Bar. It lets basic attacks be used without restriction, but specific moves, such as spells or power attacks, are only available once the Time Bar has filled.
Many fans of the original will, without question, be annoyed with the changes. But then, there is virtually nothing that could have been done to make this type of fan happy. For everyone else, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the sort of bold, highly polished experience that defines a video game generation. The display of artistic talent, and pure passion for the source material, is nothing short of breath-taking.