Role Playing In The #3 Position…
With a long, storied history behind it and a team of people who knew how to make an immersive experience, Cloud Strife slashed his way into the top 5 of our countdown with one of the most beloved Final Fantasy games of all time. At number 3 on our countdown, its Final Fantasy VII, considered by many as the best overall Final Fantasy game ever and, according to our countdown, one of the best games ever period.
7th Times a Charm
Not that the prior installments of Final Fantasy weren’t good in their own right, but none of them have had the impact on gaming that FFVII has had. Final Fantasy VII is broadly recognized as being responsible for popularizing the Japanese RPG in America. It was the first 3D game in the series, and was so advanced for its time that its developer, (Square), had to abandon their initial plans of release for the Super Nintendo and even the Nintendo 64, opting to move it to the Sony Playstation because of its use of CD-Rom media as well as its memory stick capabilities.
Final Fantasy VII introduced a number of changes and advances in gameplay, and gave the game a better overall feeling that is difficult to quantify by simply listing out the differences or changes themselves. There is a mysticism around Final Fantasy that almost feeds itself. The story may be cheesy and the graphics, (if you don’t include the recent upgrades), may be terrible compared to today’s games, but there is still something that is magical about the game. It has that special “something” that every game designer tries to capture and convey to the player, but can so often elude even the most talented of developers. Countless hours have been logged amongst millions of gamers leading Cloud and his band of merry men and women against the evil forces of SOLDIER and the Shinra Corporation.
To its credit, grinding in Final Fantasy VII never really felt like grinding. The gameplay was smooth for the franchise’s first foray onto a new console, and the game design was superbly well done. Despite some of the later missteps by Square, Final Fantasy VII pretty much hit the nail on the head in every possible way.
Fantasy Isn’t Always Final
Despite the success of the game and the overall critical and fan acclaim it received, it wasn’t all wine and roses for FFVII. From the ridiculously cheesy names of the feuding organizations, (SOLDIER and AVALANCHE? Come on!), to the terrible 3D character models, (what’s with the Popeye thing going on with Cloud? I mean, really? If your forearms are that much bigger than your biceps you’re doing something seriously wrong!), the game definitely had its weak points. Its especially noticeable regarding things that were integral to gameplay, like the menu system for upgrading and equipping your characters. Sure, it was functional and not difficult to navigate once you got the hang of it, but it was overly simple for the system, and it looked more like it belonged on the Super Nintendo than the Playstation. Also, it made that damn sound every time you moved the cursor! I hate that sound and sometimes to upgrade one character you would hear it like 45 times…. Argh!!!
Weaknesses aside, the game is a classic overall and will stick in the hearts and minds of gamers for years to come, especially since Square has announced a Playstation 4 exclusive rerelease featuring a graphical re-mastering of the game. I’ll probably be flayed alive and hounded for months to come for this, but to be honest, I actually preferred Final Fantasy VIII over VII. That said, Final Fantasy VII made this countdown at number 3 for a reason, because it is, overall a great game! I’m giving it a 5 out of 5 for what it was at the time; a phenomenal Japanese role-playing game.