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Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII

The Final Fantasy franchise has been one of the biggest selling of all time and the latest has now been released on the Playstation Portable. There are plenty of new characters to keep the story fresh as well as old favourites such as Cloud, Aerith and Tifa. This time around however my personal favourite has to be protagonist Zack whose story is both complex yet compelling.

Fans of the series will remember Zack’s fleeting appearance in Final Fantasy VII which makes him a somewhat unusual choice for a lead role. Rest assured, the depth with which he is portrayed is exceptional and makes for the backbone of the game. As is frequently common with game developer Square Enix, the spiky haired Zack is young and riddled with pubescent insecurities, however as the game develops so does his maturity and it is not long before you feel that this character (and story) is perhaps one of the best they have ever created to date.

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The world of Gaia is brimming with complex relationships and the level of character interaction is unparalleled, especially considering the portable medium it is coded for. The dialogue and scripting between Zack and Cloud is exceptional and although I am reluctant to divulge any story ruining snippets, rest assured that by the end of the game you will have shed a few tears. This could very easily make the translation from game to movie in the hands of a capable studio.

Special attention has to be given to the incredible voice acting throughout with no awkward English dub-overs ruining the highly charged atmosphere. Amazingly even as the storyline develops and the characters are growing and changing, so do the voices. Zack matures from an arrogant adolescent into a confident adult with the voice acting perfectly portraying this change in persona.

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Crisis Core is an action RPG however the combat has changed a little. When a fight starts you are limited to a specific area, however you can move freely within it. To target the foe, you face it and to attack you press X. This is all in “semi real time”, meaning that you get a series of quick paced turns to select a different attack or spell. Furthermore you can toggle between options and spells on the fly using the controller shoulder buttons. This reminded me of Tales Of The Abyss, so if you have played this game already you will feel immediately at home.

Defensive combat is catered for with the usual guarding and evading, however doing so requires you to spend action points. There are also some special attacks which use additional action points. Spells, not surprisingly, use up magic points and to use them you have to equip the corresponding materia. Our hero Zack is only given so much materia to use in combat so you need to go into combat prepared, especially later in the game against the tougher foes, such as a boss for example. A fantastic game mechanic allows you to combine certain materia to make new spells or more powerful attacks, this really adds another dimension to the combat if you spend some time experimenting.

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For those of you worrying if the fusion of materia plays a large part in winning battles, rest assured you can complete the game without it, however it will be harder in some of the boss battles. Combat in the first section of the game basically revolves around mashing the X button, however later in the game this tactic will not work as the combat (much like the character development) becomes much deeper.

New to this title is the “Digital Mind Wave” or DMW. This is a slot reel that holds the key to two focal points aspects of gameplay: attacks called limit breaks and levelling up. This reel contains six slots, three numerical digits and three character portraits. The more you fight the more you earn soldier points and these in turn operate as currency that keeps the DMV in the top left spinning. When the left and right character portraits match you then enter a limit verge screen and you wait for the digit slots and the central portrait to stop spinning. Matching all three portraits unleashes a limit break accompanied by a cinematic. Matching the numerals results in a levelled up equipped materia, and even Zack can be powered up via this as well. After reading all this, it may sound extremely complex, but after a while of getting used to it, it becomes second nature and simple to follow. The only downside is that the game takes control of the most impressive attacks available and many players will not like this.

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Crisis Core also has a plethora of side missions to keep players busy and while they all follow a similar path of “go to x, kill x, and get reward”, it works well and adds game play time to the main missions.

As I mentioned the graphics and sound are both class leading for the PSP and the game is addictive and fun, however the play time is rather short for an RPG. 22 hours is all it took for me to complete the main missions and I spent some time delving into the side missions. If you didn’t do any side missions that you could complete the main game in around 17 hours or so. While this will be considered a problem, I personally felt the length was about right and if you are the kind of person who wants to find every secret you will get considerably more play time from the game.

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Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a must have game if you own a PSP, the amazing painstakingly crafted graphics with the polished aural soundtrack combine to create a class leading front end for a wonderfully addictive and fun game. Unless you loathe RPG’s then I wholeheartedly recommend this game to you.

One of the best portable games ever released.
Superb attention to detail shines throughout.
Great voiceacting and music.
Plenty to see and do if you like to explore.
(Not an Average)
A wonderful RPG to spend some time with on the move.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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