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Review | Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion

"Embrace your dreams. If you don't fall in love with this soft verse, then you probably didn't like it at all. If you don't feel sad after playing Reunion – the game failed to deliver. Me? I'm still crying."

by Foggy, 20-12-2022, Edited by: No one (yet!)

Zack Fair

Do you have that one game that always push your buttons? That one, single game which just makes everything worthwhile? For me, Final Fantasy Crisis Core was the one, and now, Reunion is. Before I start this love-letter, I want to share some information about the game and related stuff. This review will still mark all the flaws and problems, don’t worry, but it will be a love-letter to my personal hero Zack Fair – possibly (certainly) the best protagonist of all times.

15 years ago, a lucky few PSP owners got to experience one of the best prequels to a main game. I always had issues with who the hell “Dark Cloud” is, what happened in the past, and all things related from the original FF7 game. It is but a great news that this game is finally making its entrance to a larger base of consoles in 2022. year - Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It is also worth mentioning that the team behind the remaster (they say remaster, but this feels like a remake) is the one who did the World of Final Fantasy, and they did such a wonderful job here. The only thing that is a downside is the new English VA – new voice actor for Zack. It’s not bad, I had my fears, but in the end, I liked the new vocals. Still, the original voice of Zack was even more perfect.

Soundtrack is also remastered, so if you’ve loved it, you’ll love the new one even more. And for the end – FF Reunion is 1:1 game that you knew and played, just better in all aspects. There are no modes, the game runs smooth at 60 FPS and there are no issues whatsoever.

Met your rooster. I mean, you still play with only Zack, but look how many familiar faces you can find in this game! And the graphics are looking pretty neat! Welcome, and enjoy.

Embrace your dreams

Did you know that Cloud never made it to SOLDIER 1st class rank? Zack did. Sephiroth was a good guy (still, a badass even back in days), and Angeal and Genesis were in the equation back in days of Crisis Core. Turks were always in the “gray zone”, just waiting to get rid of someone for Shinra.

Zack is just a regular, quirky dude with no dreams at start, but a damn good soldier with iron will. This game is a prequel to the original FF7; the one where you learn all you must know about the scenes from the past that occur during the main game. How they characterized him is to take notes from – Zack is so kind even though he works for Shinra, and he knows when something is not right. You will learn more about human beings and how to behave from him, then from any movie out there.

I was afraid of the possible changes that Nomura (the current executive director) possibly had in plan for Reunion. Fortunately, nothing here regarding the story is different. The players that enjoyed or simply just played Crisis Core have nothing to fear for the Reunion remaster. Everything you remember is better, prettier, enhanced and adjusted to be as fit as possible for this modern times. Still, the old-school parts such as weird dialogue lines feel a bit awkward in times like these, but nevertheless – the final feeling about the cast of this game is more than positive. They kept what was good and just made it prettier.

I won’t spoil much for the story, but I will just say that by playing FF Reunion you’ll learn about events that led to destruction and terror called Sephiroth. It will also shed some light on who Cloud really is, how Shinra always was an evil company that just had the technology and resources, and how little a life of SOLDIER recruit is worth. The game consists of chapters and missions – which will build up the relationship between you and Zack, Zack and Aerith, Zack and Cloud, Sephiroth; and ultimately culminate into something that not a single game to this game accomplished. The ending is something I don’t want to spoil for anyone, I will just mention it means so much to me, and the team behind the story of Crisis Core is both cruel and worth respecting for. You made the best protagonist ever, and the best ending of a spin-off ever made to this day.

Everyone you remember is here. It is a bit different situation, but the problems are the same. Across couple of locations you will share your experience with the Turks, meet Cloud, learn about Sephiroth and the Lifestream, clones... There is much to understand here, but it's all good!

Mission resolved

Like mentioned, the whole game is one big hallway divided into story missions and optional missions. There are settlements like Slums where you met Aerith, and Midgar areas that serve as the only real place to find NPC and get that “town” feel. In between every mission you can explore a bit, talk to NPC’s, do side stuff, and prepare for the future.

What I like about this game is that the side-content, even the optional missions – hold something that expands the story and the character lore. That is the real value of this linear and simple experience. Mainly because the story is so strong and the game’s strongest ace, expanding the lore is a big plus and for all genre lovers out there. I’m sure it’s a love letter for your gaming experience as well as mine.

Of course, random encounters are back. Strolling around during story missions (or side missions) can randomly spawn enemies in front of you. I never had issues with that. I’m one of the people that always wanted world map and random encounters. I don’t mind, but for those who are reading – yes, it can become tedious after couple of hours. Still, you can kind of avoid them, there are some tricks.

You can also collect various mails from different senders that will explain more about story missions and your allies, or even just talk from a fan perspective for the greatest SOLDIER’s out there (Angeal, Sephiroth, Genesis, and even Zack fans!). I loved them all, and I strongly advise you to read as well, there is some good writing in there.

There are also many hidden scenes and trophies in each chapter that are worth your time. Game comes with QOL improvements, so finding them is sometimes easy considering all is marked on your map. The biggest improvement is definitely the graphics, the location visual improvements, and the combat. We have some ground to cover!

The perks of the side-content is that you learn more about the world. Deepening the lore is done via side-missions, but also when you unlock new limit breaks. Even though the game is a linear experience, these little things are what makes the game interesting. Story is everything.

Combat resolved

It’s so good to see Wutai, Nibelheim, Banora, Junon, Mt. Nibel, all the scenes (like, in-game) and the in-game scenery fully remade. One note though – pre-rendered animations from PSP are the same, so it will look like a downgrade on 4K TVs for sure. I don’t understand this though. Some animations are pixelized, but some look really decent. I guess the bitrates of these varies.

How does all of this fits into the combat? Combat is the same, just a bit upgraded. It’s more fluent now, flashier and the effects are stunning. I also love the neat enemy models and the Buster Sword when you find it. Still, it lacks complexity and mostly it still is a button masher. But a flashy one! Finisher moves are saucy, and the battles are quick – so the downside of being rather simplistic is mitigated by the share beauty of speed. Zack is a pure machine with a sword, you can see from whom Cloud took lessons. Yes, you meet Cloud in the game!

I never wanted an action JRPG from this game, but it is exactly that. The one thing I had mixed feelings about was the DMW meter. Overall, the whole gambit approach with leveling up your materia and yourself felt underwhelming when it’s decided by the pure luck. DMW system is a summon system in a form of a roulette – you start every battle with 3 spinners; if they align with the same character, you get a limit break connected to that character/summon. Getting all 7s on top of that means level up, or materia level up. I don’t like luck-based systems, but this one is actually pretty decent. The game always spins what you need when it feels like you’re about to die. You can also unlock more summons and characters as you progress – and on top of everything, every DMW character has its own animations and even cutscenes that show more lore. Neat!

You can spice it all up with couple of accessory slots and of course, the materia.

Rather simplistic combat design is enriched with many materias and moves you can combine as such. Don't feel bad when you overpower yourself, Zack deserves to be strong and fair. He is, after all, Zack Fair.

Main thing – the materia. The whole system is some mix between FF7 Remake and Crisis Core now. The materia system itself is the same, but you know, it’s remade and made better a bit. You can create a few sets of materia for the fights, which is neat. Usually you need to cure, and it’s good to have some elemental attacks, plus some special skills that spend AP points. You can fuse them, come up with better combinations, stronger variations… You name it.

In combat it’s all about attacking, dodging, spending magic, spending AP, and combine all of that based on the enemy weaknesses. You can combine with items, and that is the whole combat system. There are multiple challenges, don’t worry, but the main story path is rather simple and easy. Only by the end it becomes harder, but that is expected.

The combat itself can be a downside, but it’s still fun. It fits the purpose. When you star tackling the missions outside of the story, then you will see what the difficulty is all about.

From zero to hero - is what happens. From SOLDIER 2nd class, to 1st class, and at the end... See for yourself. Remade locations are something else, they look like current-gen game, not like a remaster. I love the artwork.

You will be my living legacy

Don’t worry, you will understand the titles after you finish the game. Prepare some tissues, just a hint.

What now? How to grade this personal beauty of a game? A game with such a perfectly remastered soundtrack that sounds better than ever, with a cast that will never be as good, young Aerith, a love story, and a sad story indeed. It’s all we ever wanted from an already perfect game called FF7.

I will repeat one more time – this feels like a remake, not a remaster. It’s so well done, no bugs, no issues, nothing negative, just the old, limited PSP mechanics that cannot be fixed anyway (the linearity and simplicity for the most part). It is a spin-off, and as such it’s maybe the best one out there. Zack is my hero, and my YT channel is his living legacy. He is my avatar; he is the most positive and kind person I’ve met. Saying that for some made up character tells its own weight, and boy, that weight is a big one, especially after the last chapter.

I will just leave this one here. Play "The price of freedom" and join me with that thought. Well done Square, well done.

Square-Enix, this is the first game that you remade and made it better. Nothing is butchered, it’s done in the best possible way without degrading the quality. I don’t know how you can make it better than this – it’s the game design in the first place that created this lifestream we love dipping ourselves into. If you want to spend some money, spend it on FF Reunion – a true remaster. And Zack, you are indeed my hero, your dream is fulfilled. Embrace your dreams my gaming friends.

"One of the best remasters and one of the best stories ever told in a spin-off. And of course, the best protagonist in the Final Fantasy universe. Embrace this game."
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