Finished: Crisis Core

September 2nd, 2008

With my drive to complete the Tron restoration before the end of the summer sabbatical, I haven’t had a whole lot of game time lately to make much headway into the play list. Luckily, I’m also behind on updating my progress, so hey, fresh content! The nice thing about playing games that are already a few years old… what’s another month or two before the write-up, right?

I’ve started to keep a play journal. No, not that sort of journal, but rather a good things, bad things video game journal. Whenever I come across a design element that is particularly aggravating or enjoyable, I mark it down. With the bad things, I think about what was avoidable, and how the issue could’ve been worked around; with the good ones, I note ’em for reference and future ah, appropriation. Sometimes I’ll draw little arrows off to the side pointing at the especially good ones.

So, play list update.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Through and through, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is unapologetic fan service. With a story as melodramatic and convoluted as any in the Final Fantasy series and an appearance by pretty much anyone who was anyone in VII, hardcore fans of the original game will find plenty of references and tenuous links to go nuts over. While I’m no Final Fantasy superfan, I’d just finished VII a few weeks before, so characters, events, and relationships were all still fresh in my mind. Thankfully, the continuous stream of callbacks to the original were most often amusing, although rarely insightful.

In his review of the game, Simon Parkin found fault with the idea that, unlike Cloud in Final Fantasy VII, Zack is a voiced character. I disagree. In the original game, the player views Zack as someone else, a nonplayer, a relatively unknown member of Soldier whose identify Cloud takes on. Crisis Core tells his story, but by then he’s already been established as that someone else, a character with a history – not an empty vessel to be filled by the player – so his distinct voice and personality played, for me, a fiction-supporting role rather than being suspension-snapping baggage.

Overall, I really enjoyed the gameplay. Combat was a nice merging of action and Final Fantasy RPG, the materia system had enough depth to allow for a variety of play styles, and the control scheme was rarely frustrating. My absolute favorite part of the game, however, was the mission system, and I’d often drop in for a few missions when I didn’t have enough time to progress in the, ah, real game.

Final thoughts? Solid game, plays well to its intended platform and audience. A must-play for the fans, worth a look for everyone else.

Final grade: A-

Plus/Minus:
+ Pick up and play mission system is great fun, and is especially well-suited for a portable title.
DMV wheel! Tedious and slow after the first half-dozen fights. I would’ve liked a mechanism to speed through the reel rotations.
Strange hotspot-based random battle system. All this resulted in was my continuously hugging of the walls to avoid unnecessary combat.

Watched Advent Children a couple days after finishing Crisis Core. Not as good as I’d hoped, and a poor way to top things off. Square does best when they deliver their story little pieces at a time, I suppose. I also picked a cheap copy of Dirge, so I may take that up shortly just to knock out the series completely (well, everything but the cell phone game).


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