Final Fantasy VII Part 1

January 17, 2013

Or, “My Boyfriend Wouldn’t Let Me Rename Cloud to Tidus” (AKA “My Boyfriend Wouldn’t Shut Up Until I Played It)

So, I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game. This month I turn twenty-nine, and in my nearly three decades, dozens of JRPGs, and familiarity with the PlayStation console I’ve never played a Final Fantasy Game. Not even the side games. The “closest” I’ve ever come is watching “The Spirits Within” and I’ve no reason to relive those traumas, thanks.

I picked up FFVII for the boy for Christmas, and he starts in on me to play it. Eh. I like JRPGs, and this is somewhat the archetype, so I might as well. And, I figure that I might as well keep tabs on the progress in my Blog.

Let’s be SUPER clear, I’ll be posting my take on the game, the entire game, so expect spoilers. SPOILERS ALL OVER. I will ruin the plot for you, if you haven’t played it. You’ve been warned.

And before we go further, let me say I was not allowed to rename Cloud “Tidus”, Barret “Ballsack”, or Aeris “Kebab”. The boy did let me rename Tifa “Derpina.” I am thus satisfied.

So the first thing I realize is that the current cast of misfit “heros” are, essentially, ecoterrorists as presented. The main character, Cloud, is a merc they hired. Keen. And we (AVALANCHE) are going to stop the evil organization (SHINRA) from draining the planet of it’s life force (Mako) by blowing up a reactor and killing untold numbers of presumably innocent workers who probably think they’re providing harmless power to their fellow citizens.

And the controls are kinda wonky. Yeah, alright.

We have a few bosses, some random encounters, stores to check out, and Aeris to meet. Oh, and Cloud gets to cross-dress and it was fabulous. Somewhere around here I joking say “Couldn’t AVALANCHE just take out the plate and destroy the reactor?” “Yeah, but it’d kill everyone.” “But save the planet. Win some, lose some.” Very tongue in cheek, very clever, until it happens. But it’s SHINRA setting up AVALANCHE to take the blame.

Biggs, Wedge, and the almost love interest Jessie all bite it in this scene. We’ll talk about them in a bit. The heros fight valiantly, but fail to stop the plate from falling. Everyone on the plate, everyone below it, dies. Watching it immediately brought 9-11 to mind, which was somewhat uncomfortable (though not triggering for me). It was a decent scene, they’d set it up well, and it kinda fell flat. Well, no, it didn’t, but it should have.

Lemme explain.

The characterization at this point has not impressed me. Cloud is your standard roguish young hero with a troubled and mysterious past. and it’s not a very interesting past, even with his pseudo mental illness I’m also going to touch on later. Biggs and Wedge? Those two never get interesting enough for their deaths to be emotionally impactful. Jessie, the cute, awkward girl that like Cloud should have been more of a gut punch, but we barely got to know her so her death was also pretty empty. Barret is a fascinating character, but his characterization is dull as dirt. “Derpina” is less interesting that watery, cold oatmeal.

But Aeris actually shines. Within a few conversations, we get her personality. her drive. Who she is comes across quickly, fully, and elegantly. Rarely do I see characters so quickly and perfectly laid out. Oh, and there are lots of other people who show up once or twice with all the personality of “third guy at the bar, scene 12, take 6”.

Barret I want to be interesting. You’ve got a guy who clearly grew up tough and bad ass, but responsible and caring, in the slums under the plate of Midgar, and he gets caught up in the conflict between the desire to be with his daughter or fight for her future. DAMN that’s good. But his dialogue? His screen time? Mediocre.

Cloud…. aaahhhhh, I’m sure it gets better. He fits the standard trope, but he’s part of the reason for that trope. Hardly the origin, but he helped make it a “thing”. His voices are interesting, though. Hearing voices has no single diagnosis. It’s one of those odd things that we aren’t really sure of. Right now, i don’t know enough about Cloud to say why he’s hearing voices, but I’m very interested in how they handle that.

But that’s all we’ve got for characters. This great tragedy occurs, half the characters we’ve met die or are kidnapped, and except for the weird echo of 9-11, which I wouldn’t have had had I played this back in ’97, there was simply no emotional resonance. Presumably thousands of people just died, and I just wanted to move the game along. In terms of story telling, FFVII is not scoring high just yet.

So now we have to climb back up to the floating city. There have been parts that feel very gimmicky (the timed “escapes”, for one), but there are also parts that work tremendously well-the Materia system is probably the magic system I will be saddest to let go of when i finish the game, and I’ll comment on that in another post when i’ve had more time to play with it. Thus far it’s a solid JRPG, nothing mind blowing, but very rich, lots of depth. I’m only three hours in, so don’t nail me to the wall yet, fan boys.

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One Response to “Final Fantasy VII Part 1”

  1. Craig said

    The first part of final fantasy, the part you’re going through, is extremely linear and playing almost solely to trope. That will get interesting pretty soon (Say the 67th floor). If it doesn’t, then this is going to be a rough ride.

    I’d love to discuss more about it at some point

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