While Final Fantasy fans patiently wait for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (or maybe they’re more keen on Final Fantasy XVI?), there’s another action-filled Final Fantasy revival that will aim to tide them over. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is remaking the PSP original for current platforms, giving it another chance to steal the spotlight.
Set seven years before Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core builds out the backstory of this world, featuring Zack Fair, SOLDIER 2nd Class as the protagonist. Starting right at the end of the Shinra-Wutai War, Zack is quickly drawn into a fight to defeat a SOLDIER defector and unravel the Jenova Project.
Living in the grey area between a remake and a remaster, Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion does feel a little underwhelming in places. This is a recreation of the original in Unreal Engine 4, with new 3D models throughout and modernised lighting and effects, and you can absolutely see it. While I’ve not played the PSP original, briefly comparing this remake with a Let’s Play series shows how the remake is making leaps forward in terms of quality. We’re not talking about the cutting edge graphics of FF7 Remake, but the environments feels far more detailed, the lighting looks good, and character models feel almost modern.
That said, you can also see the limits of this remake’s scope. Cutscenes are now fully voiced, but as Reunion reproduces the camera angles, the dialogue and interactions, you’ll see the exact same animations play out. That can be nostalgic, but here it comes across as a little cheap, especially when the dialogue is matched with rather basic mouth motion and eyebrow animation for mood.
The biggest changes (outside of the graphics) come with the combat. Where the PSP original has a fairly fixed camera through battle encounters, compensating for that system’s single analogue stick, Reunion shifts to a follow camera. There’s also a modernised UI that looks like it’s made a half step toward that of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s.
While the follow cam will bring more immediacy to the battling, the fundamentals of the combat remain the same. This is an action RPG with Zack able to move freely around an arena, locking onto targets if desired, dodging many of the lighter incoming attacks, and unleashing a variety of his own. That’s backed up by Materia abilities which at this early point in the game throw some handy elemental status effects into the mix, and then the cinematic Limit Break attacks.
Alongside this is the Digital Mind Wave (DMW), which acts like a daft kind of slot machine that’s constantly running in the corner. When it matches pictures of characters and you can then perform a Limit Break attack – this is at your command, instead of automatic – or if you get ‘777’, then Zack levels up, which is particularly wild when every sensible RPG out there will do this once you’ve earnt experience points, and not when the game semi-randomly just feels like it.
Our demo with the game built up to a volcanic battle against Ifrit, pushing me to be a little bit sensible with my attacking onslaught, and used the Blizzard to weaken him when I could. Ifrit is a large and powerful enough enemy that it can pull off arena-wide attacks, pulling back into a charge state and displaying an Ability Power meter on top of them. The idea is to dash in, deal as much damage as possible and reduce or completely nullify the amount of damage they can do. React too slowly and you’ll get battered, but do enough counter-damage and it will leave them stunned and open to even more damage.
On the whole, while it’s nowhere near as ambitious as some of the remakes we’ve seen in recent years, Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion is a solid modernisation of a game that would otherwise fade into obscurity. There’s plenty of reasons for FF7 fans to want to pick this up when it releases in December.