It only took 23 years but it is finally here — the long, awaited Final Fantasy 7 remake is slated to release on March 3, 2020. Upon hearing the announcement during Square Enix’s E3 press conference, the crowd roared with excitement. The roar was even louder when they announced that a playable demo is going to be at E3.
Inven Global got their hands on the demo at E3 and initial impressions met expectations.
New Year, New Me
Upon entering the demo area, an intro video featured Jessie hacking into a Shinra propaganda video. She showed the audience how to use the controls and the purpose of the demo — which is to blow up the reactor. Afterward, we were brought to the play area and started the demo. (Side note: the start screen to the demo was not identical to original FF7, yet it was not finalized.)
A huge change to the remake is its combat. Rather than having a menu like the original FF7, Square-Enix opted to use combat mechanics similar to their recent games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy 15. Like the presentation mentioned, the square button is to attack; however, there are also dedicated buttons to dodge, block, magic/items/character-specific abilities, switch party members in real time, and control other party member’s abilities without switching. Combat felt like an updated version from past iterations of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts combined. No doubt this game's combat mechanic will be a template in future RPGs for its simplicity and minimal downtime.
A change to the combat internally is the Active Time Battle (ATB) meter. Unlike original FF7, you use the ATB for character-specific abilities and spells rather than turn-based attacks. It gives the player to strategize around the ATB meter instead of using it as a way to gauge the next turn. What’s interesting about the ATB meter is that the meter does not deplete when using items and Limit Breaks — yes, you heard that correct — LIMIT BREAKS.
What was not announced in the press conference was that Limit Breaks are back! Fans were initially confused when Square Enix did not mention anything about Limit Breaks. There were hints of it when previous videos showed Cloud performing Cross Slash and Barret performing Shot in the Hole (formerly known as Big Shot). Viewing Limit Breaks in the remake threw a sense of nostalgia — it was old, but felt new.
One noticeable thing that was not in the demo was how materia played a factor in the game. Sure, there are magic spells in the demo; however, Cloud clearly held a materia — the demo did not state what materia — in the Buster Sword, yet did not play a factor whatsoever.
A Symphonic Swing
The demo also played updated songs from the original such as “The Prelude”, “Opening - Bombing Mission”, “Mako Reactor”, “Let the Battles Begin!”, and "Fight On!" Hearing those songs felt like a huge wave of nostalgia. For those that played through the original, you will not be disappointed. For new players, the tone of the music matches perfectly to the intense battle you are facing against the Scorpion Sentinel (Another side note: I spent 5 minutes listening to "Fight On!" once I heard it through the headphones.). One thing that was unnoticeable is the distinct sound effects from the original — from the sword slashes to the trademark beep in the attack menu.
Lastly, the graphics was up to par with the trailer. The demo was played in 60 fps — likely with the PS4 Pro — and every cutscene ran smoothly. Each battle transitioned smoothly from post-battle to getting back to the world. Fans praised how Cloud and Barret were modeled, as if that was how most fans imagined the high-res models would look like. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is undoubtedly the best looking game Square-Enix will release to date.
The demo felt like it was getting better in every minute. Knowing the demo was going to end after the Scorpion Sentinel fight was a tease. There are more worlds within Midgar to be explored as the game inches close to the release date. Square Enix would also need to address questions such as more clarification on the 2-disc game: will the entire game be in Midgar? Is Final Fantasy 7 Remake going to be broken up into multiple releases like Final Fantasy 13? How much of the original story will be preserved and how much of the story will be new content?
Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 Remake set the bar as far as remakes are concerned. Can Square Enix do the same for Final Fantasy 7 and its fans?
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