Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII – Reunion Review (Switch)
Release Date: December 13, 2022
File Size: 16.1GB
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix, Tose
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
If you talk to any RPG fan and ask them about influential game franchises within the realm of the genre, more than likely you’re going to run into someone who mentions Final Fantasy. Specifically, they’ll mention Final Fantasy VII. It is so ingrained in the gaming sphere that even those who haven’t played FFVII (like myself) are aware of the characters and the setting. However, we’re not talking about FFVII but rather, its prequel Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII – Reunion (henceforth known as Crisis Core). Remade for current gen consoles, Crisis Core expands on the story of FFVII by telling the sequence of events that led up to the popular RPG entry.
With its fresh coat of paint in graphics, music, combat, and other quality of life features, is this remaster one that RPG fans should jump into? What about those who haven’t yet jumped onto the Final Fantasy train? Let’s dig a bit deeper and find out.
Crisis Core centers around SOLDIER operative Zack Fair. He works underneath Angeal, a 1st Class SOLDIER who is friends with fellow 1st Class members Genesis and Sephiroth. Angeal and Zack are shown to have a close relationship, with Angeal taking on a mentor role and showing Zack how to improve in terms of combat. They are tasked with a mission to go to Wutai in order to put a stop to any rebellion factions that pop up. But during that mission, Angeal goes missing much like his friend Genesis did during a mission in the same location. From that moment on, Zack is dragged into a wild plot where he has to find out where the 1st Class SOLDIER members disappeared to and figure out what’s going on.
The actual storytelling of Crisis Core is engaging, with Zack’s puppy-like personality naturally drawing you in. He is the type of protagonist that genuinely sees the best in people and wants to help those around him. However, corruption and betrayal are running through Shinra at a fast pace. So there will be moments where Zack wants to save those who have betrayed or hurt him, when it may be better logically for him to protect himself and those directly around him. And much like a puppy, he gets easily distracted in moments of crisis, such as getting distracted by treasure chests when one of his friends is in potential danger.
One major criticism is the fact that some character building scenes aren’t seen just by playing through the story regularly. There will be some scenes that play during battle in the form of a flashback, and these can appear randomly thanks to the Digital Mind Wave. As such, the game does rely a lot on telling the player that certain characters, such as Zack and Cloud, are really close without showing many scenes through the main story. But this isn’t just secluded to bonding moments, but also exposition that explains certain situations in a clearer manner.
Overall, it does result with a general feeling that something has been skipped over, or that you’ve skipped forward about a scene or two without realizing it. While it doesn’t affect the plot, it can make the story feel disjointed, going from one major event to the next with little buffer.
There are a multitude of side quests to take on in Crisis Core. Honestly, there are so many that it’s easy to burn out on the game just by doing a good handful at one time. There are two ways to find side quests: out in the world as you’re exploring and in the mission list at save points. The mission list quests have little to no story, only giving the player a blurb to read before allowing you to enter the mission. Side quests obtained by talking to characters directly have a bit more of a story behind them, especially when you end up receiving mail that adds more details to the story. You’ll run into fan clubs for missing 1st SOLDIER operatives, reporters, and even some fellow Shinra employees.
Crisis Core is an action RPG where you control Zack and explore through combat stages as well as some of the districts of Midgar and some of the floors in the Shinra building. The game doesn’t really open up past that, and after a certain point, the amount of areas that you’re allowed to explore decreases exponentially. It is very much a “what you see is what you get” game.
There are two sets of audio cues that will grind your gears down the longer that you play through Crisis Core: Activating Combat Mode and Conflict Resolved. These indicate when a battle is about to begin or has ended. As Zack, you are teleported to a mission level and you have to reach the end of the stage to fight a boss (or mini-boss) character. But before you can fight that boss, you have to battle against hordes of monsters. You can generally tell when you’re about to enter battle, because you’ll see an open spot ahead that’s big enough for combat to take place in. Combat doesn’t tend to happen in corridors. Since battles are predictable in this manner, this means that combat gets old very quickly. You’ll also want to be careful about backtracking, because reentering a battle area will just have you go against monsters again.
With combat, you have a main melee attack that you can spam to deal damage. Along with that, you have the ability to equip materia that will allow you to use spells and abilities. Magic materia uses your MP bar while ability materia uses your AP bar. Different enemies are weak to specific magic spells (or resistant), while others are weak to physical moves. So it’s important to make use of both during your battles. While it can be easy to just play through the game using just your melee attack, battles do end much faster using your magic (so long as the enemy isn’t resistant to your spells).
To keep battles somewhat interesting, there is a mechanic known as the Digital Mind Wave. This is basically a slot machine that is constantly spinning during battle and uses SP that you earn in battle. Whenever you get specific combinations, it can give you different benefits, such as blocking physical or magical attacks. But along with that, you can also use different limit attacks if all of the images match. The images that appear on the DMW are characters that you meet during Zack’s travels. The game does warn you that the DMW won’t run if you run out of SP, but honestly it seems almost impossible to run out of SP so long as you are battling against enemies constantly. Getting matches in the DMW also supplies SP, which just makes things a lot easier as well.
Truthfully, the DMW mechanic can sometimes make a battle too easy (or save your skin in the nick of time). There will be times where you’re up against a powerful boss that’s giving you issues. Right as all seems lost, you end up being able to summon Bahamut, which takes a huge chunk out of the boss’ health (if it didn’t just one hit KO it). It would be almost laughable if it wasn’t a huge relief in some boss battles. And in others, sometimes you’re facing a bunch of weak enemies, but truly want to see the world burn by using Air Strike or Octaslash to cleave through enemies.
Character Upgrades and Exploration
There are some options to upgrade Zack as you play through Crisis Core, although nothing too extensive. There is a leveling mechanic which does boost Zack’s base stats and should you want to, you can grind in side quests for additional experience. Although honestly, so long as you do the main story and a few of the side quests, there isn’t much need to grind in the game. You can equip accessories to Zack, which can boost his stats even further.
As you progress through the game, you’ll collect more materia, which allows you to change up the skill set you have equipped from the beginning. Different materia have different abilities, such as healing or dealing fire damage. You can fuse materia together to increase their abilities. Your materia level will be reset to level one when you do this, but it generally results in a better materia so there’s no harm in fusing.
After a certain point in the game, Zack will gain the Buster Sword, which comes with its own abilities. Combat will still operate the same, but now you can enter a new battle stance that allows you to use a heavy attack. This stance also makes it so that Zack doesn’t flinch when attacked, which makes it much easier to perform specific melee attacks and abilities. As you use the Buster Sword, your proficiency increases. Increasing your proficiency can give you additional bonuses, like breaking the damage limit break of 9,999.
A bit into the game, you are given the option to walk around parts of Midgar. There isn’t a whole lot to do outside of a couple of side quests that appear every once and a while. You can interact with NPCs in the area and they’ll talk about their life in Midgar or recent events. Otherwise, you don’t need to dedicate more than a curious glance every once and a while in these areas.
Crisis Core is a remaster of the original PSP version and comes with upgraded 3D graphics in the same style as Final Fantasy VII Remake. Being that this game is on the Switch, it is not as visually impressive as it could look on PC, Playstation, or Xbox. The models in the game do look fuzzy and grainy, especially when looking at the hair. Cinematic cutscenes look a lot better, closer to their counterparts on other systems. That being said, it’s still a nice looking game. Even more impressive though is the fact that there are little to no performance issues. The game runs smoothly and I personally didn’t run into any issues with lag or dropped frames.
The music for Crisis Core has been rescored with new arrangements by the original composer, Takeharu Ishimoto. A lot of the music leans into its rock influences, and truthfully, a lot of the tracks meld together. There are the classic FFVII themes, such as One Winged Angel, as well as some standout songs like Why and Price of Freedom. Otherwise, it does tend to be your standard fare of RPG rock music.
Crisis Core is quite an interesting game, especially for someone who hasn’t played the original (or the remake of) Final Fantasy VII. That being said, you don’t need to brush up on any knowledge before coming into this game, although it may help to connect any dots due to Crisis Core’s habit of skipping ahead with scenes. It does leave a feeling that you’re missing something, given that things ramp up very quickly with little warning. But that is perhaps what fits, given that Zack himself is outside of the realm of influence until he is dragged in without any warning.
Gameplay-wise, Crisis Core does get repetitive. You will hear the combat cues so often that you’ll swear you’ll hear them in your sleep. Thankfully though, it is a solid battle system. Battles don’t last too long, even against boss characters and the major battles that you fight are actually pretty fun to play through (as long as you’re not taking a Firaga to the face). It’s a decent action RPG that does what it needs to while having an interesting, albeit fast-paced story.