Final Fantasy VII: Remake I thought it was a delicious maneuver, precisely because it questions the name of Remake; even its title plays tricks, displaying a bravery that generated all kinds of reactions in the fandom; a Nomurada fully fledged, not without courage; something to celebrate, above all (and despite his buts —which are not few—) for how his approach to the concept of remake was carried out. The arrival of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion It also seems to me a reason for celebration, although in this case it is more for the what, than for the how; due to the fact that this update represents a new opportunity to tackle one of the most outstanding titles of the old PSP, as well as a key piece in the FFVII universe. But this time we are talking about a decidedly more classic approach to the remake, one that is halfway between the remaster and the remake and that, therefore, generates some of the frictions characteristic of this type of product. In fact, if I had to summarize everything that Reunion is generating in me in a single sensation, I would speak of bewilderment. Luckily, I don’t have to do that, and I can elaborate a bit more, so let’s get to it.
With each new remake that arrives, the same thing happens to me: it is impossible for me not to keep my eye on everything that has changed. It’s not that I don’t like the changes—in fact, I usually bet on them—but I do believe that these adjustments are, in essence, what allows me to judge to what extent it is a successful remake. Why am I saying this? Well, because I believe that these changes should not be free. I think they should respond to specific intentions, paying attention to the needs that may arise when adapting an ancient title to modern times. And I think that these needs stem from a series of questions that we all ask ourselves when dealing with this type of product: does its control system still work? And its combat system? To what extent is an update necessary? graphic? Is its structure valid today? And its navigability?
Before going into details, and for anyone who did not enjoy Crisis Core at the time, it is worth clarifying that it is about a prequel to Final Fantasy VII which tells the story of Zack; Cloud’s former friend, a member of Soldier and a key player in understanding the latter’s motivations. The narration, therefore, starts several years before what happened in the seventh installment of Final Fantasy, situating characters like Sefirot, the Turks, Aeris or Yuffie, and providing more information about their past. If you are one of those who enjoyed the first adventure of Cloud, Tifa and company, these are more than enough reasons to stay in Midgar.
Although you may also be one of those who like to deal slaps in a JRPG and, if so, the combat will also give you some other reason to stay. A couple of confrontations are enough to realize that Square Enix has raised some of the issues that he mentioned before. Its combat system has gone through the filter of FFVII Remake (which served as a distant inspiration) to sift the original Crisis Core proposal, streamlining the management of your systems and turning each battle into a more fluid process. For anyone who does not have in mind how to fight on PSP, it should be clarified that it is a real-time action system that revolves around the OMD: a kind of roulette wheel that adds a factor of randomness to the matter, since depending on the results that come out every time it stops (something that happens every few seconds), we will receive one enhancer or another. The prizes range from portions of life or magic, to the enhancement of passive attributes or the execution of Limit attacks. An apparently simple system, with a component of randomness that, as happened 15 years ago now, seems to reserve complexity for anyone who wants to tackle the secondary content proposed by the title —the place where its greatest challenges were hidden.
Continuing with everything that has changed, it would be time to talk about the revamped graphic. From the outset, it is obvious that Reunion is closer to Final Fantasy VII Remake than to Crisis Core from 2007. The models have gained packaging and, playing on PS5, the title gains muscle through all the string of effects that adorned the screens. FFVII Remake battles. But the final result is far from what was seen two years ago. Despite the fact that the scenario and character models are simpler, its biggest problem lies in how these are related to both the animationsas with the structure of the title and its navigability.
the sequences ingame, for example, still retain extremely similar animations to the original (if not the same). So we find ourselves with hyper-defined characters endowed with animations of those that one must complement with their imagination. Something that, before, when our brain also did its part to reconstruct the aesthetic universe that was shown to us (due to its lack of definition) was not a problem. Now the result is a loosely cohesive pastiche in which, for the worse, stand out some animations that are not up to the characters that star in them.
Something similar happens with the structure of the title and its navigability. The game inherits its status as a portable title, delivering an experience in which the chapters are made up of limited scenarios, extremely short journeys, and continuous interruptions. This gives rise to a continuum of moments in which, after witnessing a dialogue, the game demands that we advance 15 meters to, immediately afterwards, load a sequence (loading screen included) which will be followed by another 25-meter walk that ends a gate (with its corresponding charge) and so on. To which we must add that each combat, despite not being instantiated, must go through its corresponding start animation. Something understandable if one has the original video game in mind, but that can seem unjustifiable (and even annoying) if it is exposed accompanied by a graphic update like the one Reunion delivers. All this without going into the —more than improvable— resolution of the CGI sequences or how slow the conversations with the NPCs can be.
The result is perceiving me a title that looks partially current aesthetically and moderately archaic mechanically. A proposal in which particle effects coexist with a rough rhythm, and with a character that has a single animation through which to stage that he is training (squats). It leads me to wonder if they have tried to answer the right questions, and if it has been done in a balanced way.
It’s time to continue playing, without a doubt, but what I’ve seen so far invites me to talk about bewilderment because I don’t understand how such a thorough facelift can be accompanied by such marked immobility in other sections. Probably because it’s easier (and therefore cheaper) to carry over the original experience, doping it with visual steroids, than to restructure maps and generate new animations for the hundreds of sequences that the game includes. But if that were the case, I would have preferred the remake letter to be saved for another time. Does all this mean that I’m not enjoying Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion? Not at all. The title still has all the charm of the original: the combat works moderately well, and knowing more about Zack and company is always appealing. But the friction generated by having to put on the 2007 glasses to play a title that wants to look like a product, to a certain extent, current, bothers me. It bothers me because it’s a disconcerting feeling that I don’t usually have with the great Remakes, with those who, in addition to asking the right questions, answer them giving rise to a cohesive product (no matter how Nomurada to be).
At the moment, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is seeming to me an unbalanced title that, due to its approach, it stays halfway between the remaster and the remake, and that is usually a dangerous terrain. But yes, it is still Crisis Core.