Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion Review

Richard Walker

For many, Final Fantasy VII provided an entry point into not only a colossal RPG franchise, but also an entire genre in and of itself. So, it's hardly surprising that, of all the FF titles within Square Enix's purview, VII has been spun off every which way. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, released exclusively for PSP in 2007, is perhaps the most significant of these, and, as such, a remaster or remake has been long overdue. Better late than never, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion sees the game casting off its handheld shackles, although this is neither remaster or remake. Instead, it rests somewhere in the middle – a happy medium that ensures the game remains faithful to its source, while incorporating crisp high-resolution visuals and all of the modern trappings you'd hope for. In short, it's precisely what the doctor ordered.

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And, indeed, if you've never owned a PSP, then Reunion represents a golden opportunity to discover the story of up-and-coming SOLDIER operative Zack Fair, as well as a whole lot of extra backstory for some of Final Fantasy VII's most beloved characters. As Zack, you'll work your way up the hierarchy of energy-sucking corporation Shinra - the same evil company you face as Cloud Strife in FF VII, responsible for exploiting the planet by hoovering up its valuable life force, mako. In Crisis Core, Shinra is in the process of constructing its main reactor in Midgar, and Avalanche, FF VII's band of plucky eco-warriors, is a burgeoning group gathering its ranks. As such, the game, though a prequel, really works as an addendum to Final Fantasy VII, and, if you're a fan who knows your materia from your mako, you'll be hooked instantly.

Primarily, events centre upon a secret project being conducted by shady Shinra scientist Hojo, giving rise to the spawning of monsters all over Midgar and its outskirts. At the heart of it all is Genesis, a poetry-spouting, red leather jacket-wearing friend of prodigious SOLDIER and silver-haired FF VII antagonist Sephiroth; and Zack's stoic mentor, Angeal. Fans of Final fantasy VII will get a kick out of discovering more about familiar faces, and appearances from the likes of Aerith and Tifa add further connective tissue and insights into the exploits of Cloud and co. Crisis Core is totally essential for anyone already obsessed with Square Enix's 1997 opus.

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Everyone else might find Crisis Core initially confusing from a purely narrative standpoint, although it does work as a standalone story, and, if nothing else, will encourage you to seek out and play Final Fantasy VII (whether it's the 25-year-old original or the 2020 remake). There are quite a lot of systems and game mechanics to learn, too, although they're expertly drip-fed, so you never feel like you're being overwhelmed by tutorials. Reunion also elegantly transposes a control system designed for handheld to a console controller, making for something that's not only enormously accessible, but also fun and compelling.

Real-time combat might not be to every JRPG fan's tastes, but it works brilliantly here, rewarding well-timed guards against enemy attacks, judicious use of MP when wielding magic, and the stringing together of combos punctuated by devastating flourishes that consume AP (Action Points). Constantly spinning reels in the top left corner of the screen bring random summons, status effects, and limit breaks to Crisis Core's combat encounters, via the 'DMW' (Digital Mind Wave) system, offering a chance to turn the tide during a battle in a number of ways. You might land something like temporary invincibility, no MP cost, no AP cost, and other boons to help you along, alongside any summons you've collected, including old favourites like Ifrit, Odin, Phoenix, Cactuar, and Bahamut.

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Eventually, Zack will also learn Materia Fusion, enabling you to mix and match different magic baubles to create new spells, which, as ever, run the gamut from fire, blizzard, thunder, and cure magic, to more advanced forms like firaga, blizzaga, thundaga, curaga, and all manner of AP skills. Of course, you can also outfit yourself with various equipment, like HP-boosting bangles, elemental rings, and such – typical Final Fantasy stuff. This every bit the full-blooded FF VII experience, then, replete with oversized swords, overwrought drama, and a glut of instantly recognisable locations. There are hundreds of separate missions to tackle, too, tasking you with eradicating countless monsters and mechanical foes at the behest of characters you'll meet during your epic 20-something hour journey.

A hugely welcome remaster/remake thing and massive JRPG experience, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion gives a fifteen-year-old game previously stranded on PSP a new lease of life, and offers a golden opportunity for FF VII fans who missed it the first time around to see what all the fuss is about. Square Enix has done a stellar job in both updating the game's controls and interface, while making it look wonderfully attractive – Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is a remake that's been made with due care and diligence. This is a Reunion worth attending.

Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion

Breathing new life into a decade-and-a-half-old PSP game, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is a cracking remake of a JRPG that was already a pretty ruddy good in the first place. It definitely deserves a fair shake.

Form widget
80%
Audio
85%

Takeharu Ishimoto's original soundtrack has been rearranged and remains excellent, while fully voiced dialogue makes for a more complete and engaging narrative.

Visuals
80%

Above and beyond a remaster job, Crisis Core looks fantastic fifteen years on, thanks to a full graphical overhaul. The cutscenes also remain particularly impressive.

Playability
80%

While the real-time combat might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's complex enough to sustain your interest for the game's 20-something-hour runtime.

Delivery
80%

Reunion feels fresh and modern on current platforms, and there's a surfeit of missions and extra stuff to delve into beyond the main storyline. Nice.

Trophies
70%

A slightly annoying list that requires specific actions to complete. The majority of objectives are highly missable, too, meaning judicious use of manual saves.

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