Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion Review — A Heartwarming Reunion

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the highly anticipated upcoming remaster of the 2007 PSP action RPG Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The remaster succeeds at providing players an almost entirely new experience with remastered visuals, gameplay improvements, fully voiced audio in English and Japanese, and more. While I never played the original game, I can confidently say that this is now one of my all-time favorite games in the series, as it does almost everything right, save for a few inconsistencies. 

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion takes place seven years before the events of Final Fantasy VII and follows protagonist Zack Fair, a second-class Shinra SOLDIER operative tasked to seek out his lost fellow SOLDIERs Genesis, and his mentor, the senior 1st Class operative Angeal. After a series of events, it’s discovered that Genesis and Angeal have become deserters, so Zack is tasked to stop them before they enact a plan that threatens both the fate of Shinra and the world at large. We follow Zack over several years as he’s promoted to first-class, takes on bigger responsibilities, and meets several familiar faces including Aerith, Cloud, and the Turks. 

Crisis Core’s story does a great job of telling the stories of some of our favorite characters in Final Fantasy VII. It excellently contextualizes the events to happen in the succeeding game through the eyes of the protagonist Zack, who serves as a nice contrast to Cloud, as he’s more cheerful, relatable, and likable as a person. The remaster does an excellent job of engaging the player throughout by perfectly portraying Zack’s highly emotional, highly exciting story. Each character is endearing in their own way, and the new Japanese and English voice cast do a fantastic job voicing the previously voiceless characters and bringing out their personalities. However, I have to admit that some English voices can sometimes be a bit spotty.

The gameplay in Crisis Core Reunion is nothing short of fantastic. Upon starting, players will be bombarded with all manner of tutorials for the game’s several gameplay elements, most of which are featured in other Final Fantasy games and Final Fantasy VII. These include the different types of elements, equipable Materia, special attacks, magic spells, consumables, as well as the HP, MP, and AP bars. A unique feature of the game is its central slot-machine-like mechanic known as The “Digital Mind Wave”, which works according to the player’s actions in combat. It features two sets of three spinning wheels, one holding the numbers one through seven and another showing an image of characters Zack has met and befriended throughout the game. 

The wheel will only work once the player has acquired at least ten SOLDIER points during combat. If they’re lucky enough for the wheel to hit two of the same number with no image appearing, they’ll get neat combat bonuses for a brief period, such as unlimited SP usage, unlimited AG usage, and sometimes invincibility. Should the numbers line up as “777”, Zack will gain an experience level that increases his overall stats. Additionally, if the second wheel lands on three of the same character image, Zack will acquire a Limit Break ability based on the character, which can either be a skill that heals Zack or an attack that deals significant damage to the enemy. Once players progress far enough in the game, they’ll unlock the use of summons, which also have pictures randomly appearing on the character image wheel.

The DMW mechanic is unlike any mechanic I’ve personally encountered in a game before and has very distinct advantages and disadvantages. The system minimizes things the player has to worry about, such as a leveling system and the need to keep track of a bar to perform limit breaks. It also makes combat fresh and entertaining and forces players to use all their tools in a fun way by making it feel like a treat every time they get a bonus. However, it also tends to make things needlessly tedious, specifically via the aforementioned leveling system, which is all left to chance. As a result, unlucky players are forced to grind incessantly in order to increase their chances of raising their stats to face difficult foes. This process can be brutal, especially for a game that uses a semi-random encounter structure.

Once players progress far enough in the game, they’ll unlock Materia Fusion, a mechanic that lets players combine Materia to make a much more powerful Materia or a Materia with a different element. I will admit that I rarely used this early on in the game, as most of the Materia needed can be purchased or acquired as you progress through the game. Progress even further, and you will unlock battle stances with the Buster Sword similar to Final Fantasy VII remake, one for attacking and one for defending. These stances are more or less what you’d expect if you’ve played the remake.

This isn’t to say that Crisis Core is a particularly tough game, as it implements an odd system where players can purchase restorative items in the “Shop” section of the in-game menu. What makes this strange is that players can purchase these items virtually any time outside combat, even after deaths with bosses before restarting the fight. Players will also get their bars restored at each save point, making things even easier for the player. While this system may have been implemented to balance out the lack of an easy mode, I feel it might’ve been a bit too much. All that said, the real-time combat is still highly engaging, and defeating the several well-designed enemies and bosses always feels satisfying.

When not experiencing the story, players can tackle all side missions from any save point in the game, which teleports them to and from the mission before moving on to the linear story missions, spanning several locations in Midgar. While players can move around several locations, exploration is a lot more limited (unlike in Final Fantasy 7) which makes sense as it is a significantly smaller game. Additionally, players can interact with several NPCs in the SOLDIER HQ and when exploring places in Midgar via events littered about the map. Some events will clue you in on a side mission, while others will force you into wacky dialogues and send you wackier mails. My only issue with these events is that you can easily miss them unless you’re frequently looking at your map, which you have to pull up every time.

Performance-wise, I had no issues with bugs, glitches, or framerate dips, and the game runs smoothly and consistently at 120FPS and below. Final Fantasy VII Reunion also sports amazing remastered visuals. The character designs are crisp and incredibly detailed, and the art direction is fantastic. The level designs are virtually night and day compared to their older counterparts. My only issue with the overall visuals is that the fully rendered cutscenes seem to be the least improved aspect of the game, as they look like they’ve been ripped straight from its older version. While I understand the game isn’t meant to be a complete remake, it is worth mentioning the jarring feeling when cutting from looking at the incredibly detailed models in gameplay, to looking at awkward-looking models in cutscenes. 

Overall, despite some questionable gameplay features, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion has provided a highly enjoyable experience that far surpasses most remasters and is on the level of most remakes. As a result, I can confidently say that the remaster is the definitive version of Crisis Core, and is well worth all the time I invested in it.

Abdul Saad is an avid gamer and computer scientist. He's been writing for four years on news, reviews, previews, and more on multiple gaming sites. When he isn't writing or playing the latest JRPG, he can be found coding games of his own or tinkering with something electrical.



Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion

Review Guidelines

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is almost undeniably the definitive version of the 2007 action RPG, as despite its issues it still succeeds at presenting the player with an unforgettable experience.

Abdul Saad

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