Final Fantasy VII Remake was a perfect game to me. It didn’t just live up to all of the hype and buzz surrounding it, but completely exceeded expectations with its fantastic interpretation of the iconic city of Midgar, the robust and exciting combat, and the fleshed-out narrative that sprung plenty of surprises. It gave players a whole new way to appreciate the epic RPG, but in a manner that still felt befitting of the original game – even IF it looks like some intriguing changes might be coming to this revamped world.
I’ve already praised the hell out of the game in my original review (which you can check out through this link). However, Square Enix have now brought an enhanced version of the game to the PlayStation 5 that doesn’t only take advantage of the new hardware, but also introduces a new expansion featuring everyone’s favourite Materia-loving ninja, Yuffie Kisaragi.
Does Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade offer enough to make the adventure worth re-visiting just over a year on from its initial release, though? Spoiler alert: yes, it does, with the new enhancements making an already perfect game more… uh… perfecter (wow, I didn’t expect that to actually be a real word).
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game down below:
I’m not going to go over all of the ins-and-outs of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade’s gameplay mechanics and story because I covered those in my initial review. The game is over a year old now and has even come free to PlayStation Plus, so I’m sure most gamers know what to expect. Instead, this review will focus on the new enhancements as well as Yuffie’s ‘Intermission’ DLC.
Similar to other PlayStation 5 titles, players can choose to play Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade in modes that either prioritise a 60fps frame rate or a 4K resolution. There’s no right or wrong option between the two, with one offering a silky-smooth frame rate and the other bringing with it a sharper image. Personally, I went for the frame rate – Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade already looks gorgeous without a 4K resolution, so getting to see it all at a slick frame rate that looked stunning in motion was a real treat. Oh, and there are other minor improvements made across the board as far as visual effects are concerned to offer a bit more eye candy, whilst the infamous door has been fixed too. If you know, you know.
Hate loading times? They’re almost non-existent now too, with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade certainly embracing the PlayStation 5’s SSD hard drive. Of course, some of the loading sequences that tie into the gameplay still exist, but you shouldn’t expect to see long loading scenes in-between any of the action or cinematic scenes. There’s Dual Sense functionality with haptic feedback too, though I wasn’t blown away by its implementation; maybe I’ve been a bit too spoilt by the likes of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Returnal as of late, but its integration just felt a little underwhelming.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade already looks gorgeous without a 4K resolution, so getting to see it all at a slick frame rate that looked stunning in motion was a real treat.”
Between all of the improvements made though, it’s hard not to be impressed by Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. Everything looks absolutely stunning, it plays beautiful at 60fps, whilst the lack of loading times keeps the whole experience flowing together nicely. Games never feel quite as special to play the second time around, but these improvements ensured that Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade keeps packing one hell of a punch across its epic adventure.
Of course, whilst fancy new upgrades are certainly appealing, it’s the Yuffie-starring ‘Intermission’ expansion that really caught my interest. Whilst Yuffie was an optional character in the original Final Fantasy VII, she has already taken on a more pivotal role here in a story that plays out roughly at the midway point of the Remake. The tale sees Yuffie and her newly introduced ally Sonon looking to infiltrate Shinra HQ in order to steal some materia and deal a blow to the higher-ups. Getting there means mixing with Avalanche in Sector 7, so you can expect to see some familiar faces on the journey…
I won’t give away any more details about the plot because it’s better for players to experience themselves. The DLC itself will only take around four-hours to beat if the main missions are prioritised, but it gives players enough time to learn about Yuffie, Sonon, and the way that Midgar’s inhabitants have reacted to Avalanche’s recent activity. One thing I particularly liked is how it emphasised Shinra’s history with Wutai; whilst this is touched upon in the original game, it seems like it’s being explored in a lot more depth in the Remake. It strengthens Yuffie’s relevance in the game and has left me excited to find out more – hopefully, Part Two of the Remake won’t be too far away.
“One thing I particularly liked is how it emphasised Shinra’s history with Wutai; whilst this is touched upon in the original game, it seems like it’s being explored in a lot more depth in the Remake.”
Gameplay-wise, a lot of Intermission feels similar to the main game. Players will explore an array of environments, partake in small mini game-like sequences, battle a bunch of enemies, and so forth. Players can upgrade Yuffie and Sonon’s gear and play about with different materia, whilst there’s also a showdown with Ramuh for those who missed the ol’ lightning-powered dude in the base game. All of this is set up in a similar fashion to the gameplay seen in the Remake, so nothing changes too much.
Battling with Yuffie feels a lot more unique though. She’s incredibly fast-paced and acrobatic with her manoeuvres, whilst her weaponry and ninjitsu makes her a formidable fighter at both close and long range. The powers of her weapons are especially effective too, especially since players are able to imbue their ninjitsu attacks with specific elements. It meant that players won’t have to worry too much about equipping her with magic-based materia, but can instead use those that make her more effective offensively and defensively. I was guilty of going for magic-heavy builds with my party when I originally played the Final Fantasy VII Remake, so it brought a neat change to the game.
“Yuffie is incredibly fast-paced and acrobatic with her manoeuvres, whilst her weaponry and ninjitsu makes her a formidable fighter at both close and long range.”
Unfortunately, Sonon isn’t playable, though that doesn’t mean he doesn’t play his role in battles. Besides providing plenty of support and being able to be assigned actions, he can also synergise with Yuffie to unleash more powerful variants of her abilities. These can be ESPECIALLY helpful in some of the tougher encounters (especially the excellent boss fights that bring with them plenty of cinematic sequences), with their use pivotal to player success. Know what I found the most useful, though? If Yuffie falls in battle, Sonon will sacrifice himself to revive her and pass over his remaining HP. It helped me in a few situations where I let my guard down and ensured that there aren’t too many frustrating deaths to be suffered in the game.
Whilst it’s not too long, Intermission brings with it plenty of fantastic battles and story sequences to make it feel like a worthwhile addition to the Remake. The encounters with well-known characters are great too, whilst the finale will feel especially significant to Final Fantasy VII fans. It will certainly bear some significance over coming events in Part Two of the Remake, so I’m excited to see how it develops.
There was only really one flaw with Intermission: a lack of environmental diversity. Whilst I loved re-visiting familiar locales and seeing them from a new Yuffie-inspired perspective (she’s a hell of a lot more cheerful than Cloud), the dungeon-like areas felt like they didn’t offer anything I hadn’t seen before. Factories? Labs? Players would have seen it all before in Final Fantasy VII Remake, even if they were fun to explore here. Whilst I appreciate that it embraces Midgar’s aesthetic, it would have been nice to see something that felt a bit more unique.
“Whilst it’s not too long, Intermission brings with it plenty of fantastic battles and story sequences to make it feel like a worthwhile addition to the Remake.”
I can’t end this review without talking about Fort Condor – the new mini-game that’s inspired by the tactical battling scenarios from the original Final Fantasy VII. Now I’ll admit, I HATED the Fort Condor sequences in the original game, but Intermission’s unique RTS-style approach that implements a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ mechanic was a lot of fun to play. There are plenty of different opponents to face off against in the game and new pieces to unlock along the way, and honestly, it’s just SO addictive that I found myself completely hooked during my first two-hours playing. I’ve always missed the presence of card games in modern Final Fantasy releases (Triple Trial for life), but mixing it up with different NPCs in a tactical board game was really entertaining. Hopefully, we’ll see more of it in the future.
Final Fantasy VII Remake was already an outstanding release, but Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade SOMEHOW makes it even better. Whether it’s with the improved visuals, the smoother performance, the faster load times, or the additional content that fleshes out the Final Fantasy VII Remake universe further, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade offers something to please everyone. I don’t care if you poured hundred of hours into the base game already… this is one PlayStation 5 port that you simply should NOT ignore.
And by the way, Square Enix… I’ll NEVER stop pronouncing Yuffie’s name as yuff-ee.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)
Click here to visit the official website.