Welcome to part two of three of our Final Fantasy VII Remake review for PlayStation 4! Last week we talked about our first steps into the game and some of the gameplay mechanics. This week we’ll continue to discuss our adventure as we progressed deeper into the game’s story. Come back next week when we deliver our final score. We worked very hard at not spoiling any of the game’s story. That being said, this review in progress might convey some mechanics and encounters that might be considered mild spoilers. Even though, “spoilers” is a harsh term in this context because what’s conveyed should be no secret for fans of the original game.
More Weapons Of Mass Destruction
This week we finally got our first “summons”. To those new to the game, a summons is a sort of “magic” spell that allows a player-controlled character to call forth a powerful God-like creature of a particular element, e.g. fire, cold, etc. These powerful “weapons of mass destruction” typically are available against the major bosses in the game. In order to call them forth, their associated materia needs to be equipped. Then in a major boss battle, a battle gauge needs to fill up and “summon” will show up on your command menu, much like how “limit breaks” work. After the elemental arrives, via some incredible animations, the associated player character can issue a few specific commands/moves to that temporary supplemental team member.
More than half-way through though these summon materias are few and far between. The second one comes in the form of taking on the associated elemental via an arena-style VR (virtual reality) Mission. On Normal battle mode, this was a fun, but challenging, excursion. I attempted the VR Mission for the second elemental twice and came close, but no cigar. I even used another summons against them that should have been a weakness, but it proved to be a battle between oil and water. I decided to come back to that a little later on. It’s unclear yet whether character level matters in these VR Missions or how the character level matters at all in this game.
If you buy or upgrade to, the digital deluxe edition you’ll actually get the use of two summons early on, “Cactuar Summon Materia” and “Carbuncle Summon Materia”. Unfortunately, we can’t speak to their use or how valuable they are.
Providing Challenges Where Teamwork Is A Must
We also encountered what I consider to be the game’s first real major boss (Note: not the one pictured above, if you were guessing). On Normal mode, it proved to be an overwhelming challenge for an aged gamer. Boss battles like these require you have the proper materia equipped on the right team members. Because distance can also play a factor you need to be able to switch between your team members at the appropriate times.
After an embarrassing number of tries, I decided to knock my battle setting down to “Classic” for this boss. In “Classic” mode the game manages your team member’s offensive and defensive moves. In this mode, all you need to do is worry about issuing special commands, e.g. magic, limit breaks, summons all in real-time. This is a nice option to fall back on to reduce stress especially after giving it the “ole college try”. Right after the battle, I switched back to “Normal” mode and never felt guilty about it. Whether or not this caused me not to earn a PlayStation trophy I can’t be certain.
Along your travels be on the lookout for benches and vending machines, like the above. The benches act as resting spots and allow you to replenish your health and magic points. It helps to save those important potions for major battles. The associated vending machine allows you to buy some back-up potions as well.
Also at this point in the game, you’ll be given more optional side quests to do. These are a great way to increase levels, skill points and work towards those important “Battle Intel” missions. Remember from last week’s review article, “Battle Intel” missions unlock new materia from a boy named Chadley. These missions take on the form of mini-achievements, e.g. perform this move 10 times in a battle.
Gameplay so far has included several cool mini-games that were worth trying at least once. Once such game woven into the story leads up to the boss battle mentioned above. In this mini-game, you’re given several opportunities, and choices, to sabotage that boss to move favorable odds more into your court. To take full advantage of this mini-game, if you will, you need to be on the lookout for certain keys. These kinds of touches add to how the game rewards those that choose to explore every passageway versus rushing right to the boss.
Even More Exploration Awards
If you read the first part of this review in progress we talked about smashing boxes and “Moogle medals”. This time we actually got to see what turning in “Moogle medals” does or actually gets you. They actually convert into some decent equipment or can increase a character’s skill points a bit. Once again we’ll stress that exploration is helpful as finding chests often yields potions, equipment, Gil, etc. Smashing stacks of Shinra boxes during battle also helps as some restore a bit of the much needed HP (health points) and MP (magic points).
In Conclusion This Week
The trend of not having much to complain about continues. My only minor beef at this point is that a lot of times mini-boss battles, especially in side quests, take two attempts. You’ll have access to an Assess materia where you can analyze a mob’s weakness. A lot of times these weaknesses are based on a certain type of magic. Without the ability to dynamically change your materia setup during a battle it might take a second attempt to be properly “materia equipped” to win.
Come back next week as we’ll flesh out our final score, but at this point, all signs point to a very favorable outcome! We suspect this game will show up on many “game of the year” lists!