Up until 2020, I was someone who did not care much for Final Fantasy VII or its story. Despite often being heralded as one of the greatest RPGs of all time, it never grabbed my attention. That changed when I played Final Fantasy VII Remake, though, and since then, I have been looking for an easier way to play Crisis Core. Then here walks in Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII -Reunion.
After the first few hours of Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion, I’m left with two distinct minds. On the one hand, we have a remaster of a beloved classic that fans have been clamoring for ever since FFVII Remake was announced. However, with this new branding, I’m left wanting more for the level of production and general technical flourish.
Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion Is An Amalgamation of Emotion
Crisis Core is a vital part of the story, the game’s protagonist Zack Fair, and how he fits into the larger narrative of this universe. The sheer ability to play this on something that isn’t a portable device is a win in and of itself.
After playing through the first three chapters, I have a solid understanding of the structure of this game, which has remained consistent with the original in many ways. I discussed the combat in our other game preview a few months back, but with a more rigid understanding of its systems, I once again left feeling split. There are much-needed improvements across the board, including snappier combat, a more legible UI, and menu shortcuts to keep you in the heat of battle.
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On the other hand, Crisis Core Reunion feels like it’s living in the shadow of its older sibling, FFVII Remake. While it feels good, looks solid, and performance is stable, the constant comparison between the two is hard to shake. This comparison is magnified when looking at Crisis Core under the new “Reunion” branding.
Many players, myself included, have yet to play Crisis Core before, and this is an excellent entry point. Despite my split mind on the game, Its story has its hooks in me. Second-class Soldier Zack Fair is working to become a hero. His best friend Angeal goes missing after a mission has gone wrong, and now it’s time to track down Angeal and learn more about Genesis and the missing army of soldiers.
The first three chapters are very start and stop. The game often has you walking a short number of steps before stopping for a cutscene, battle, or something else entirely. It’s segmented in its layout and map design, making these areas feel like tourist attractions rather than real-places people inhabit. For instance, most of your shopping is done from the main menu rather than visiting someone who will sell you items.
The game has received a pretty significant graphical overhaul in key areas like Zack, Sephiroth, and other major character models, as well as environments that have much more graphical fidelity and texture density. It’s impressive that this is a remaster of a PSP game.
However, when the newer models, like Zack, interact with areas or characters who have not been given the same graphical treatment, it can feel jarring and often muddy the waters of what the scope of this project is.
In the early hours, the game feels at odds with itself, wanting to be larger than it is but also taking that formula and running wild with it. Before each significant story chapter, you can complete smaller bite-sized missions to obtain new accessories, materia, and more.
You can walk freely around Shinra HQ and Sector 8, which is a nice change of pace. Here you might find extra side missions or eavesdrop on townsfolks talking about the hottest play in town, Loveless.
The story chapters are where you will find the most meat on the bone in Crisis Core. The setpiece moments, character development, and over-the-top summons are all there. Fans of Final Fantasy VII will revel in seeing familiar characters and how their life was before the events of Remake. While Reunion has not shown many of its cards, I’ve played enough to know I’m in it for the story.
While the combat feels better, it’s the characters and story I’ve fallen in love with. It’s clear Crisis Core Reunion came out now to gear players up for Rebirth later next year. I’m curious to see how this new reinvention of Crisis Core fits into the ever-changing landscape of Final Fantasy VII.