Whilst Square Enix have dabbled with multiple spin-offs in the Final Fantasy VII universe, it’s Crisis Core that has always felt the most substantial. Not only did it give a deeper insight into one of the game’s most significant characters and the events surrounding them, but it also stood out as a genuinely engaging action-RPG that brought the most out of the PSP. Now, fifteen years on from its initial release, the game has been given a remaster in the form of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, bringing with it a fancy lick of paint as well as some enhancements to the gameplay to help it feel at home on modern platforms.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Taking place years before the original game, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion tells the story of Zack Fair, the unsung hero from Final Fantasy VII who handles perilous situations alongside the likes of Sephiroth in SOLDIER. Whilst investigating the disappearance of a powerful ally, Zack finds himself caught in a series of events that won’t only affect him deeply, but also shape the foundation of Sephiroth’s villainous turn as well as the rise of Cloud Strife as a hero. The journey to get to that point feels pivotal, with Zack visiting plenty of recognisable locales along the way – as well as encountering a certain flower girl…
If you’re invested in the plot of Final Fantasy VII, you’ll love the storytelling in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion. Not only does it flesh out details that are simply alluded to in the original game, but it also shows many of the dark forces at work behind the scenes as well as offer plenty of little easter eggs that’ll catch the eye of gamers. Did the phrase Loveless always stand out during the opening hour of the original game? Well, you’ll learn a LOT more about what it really is here.
It is worth noting that whilst the story itself can be enjoyed as a stand-alone experience, a lot of its impact will be lessened if you aren’t familiar with Final Fantasy VII’s narrative. I won’t go into any spoilers, but seeing certain events play out, watching the relationship grow between characters, or understanding the significance of some seemingly minor interactions won’t feel as important if this is your first rodeo in the world of Final Fantasy VII. The same applies if you’ve only played the Final Fantasy VII Remake, because again, it doesn’t quite tie into the events of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion so much– even IF it does feel like it will be significant down the line.
As a Final Fantasy VII fan though? Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion offers everything you could want with its storytelling. It gives more insight into the world you would have already been a part of and helps shape it with more secrets and detail, all without trying to re-invent the the tale you already know. Just don’t be surprised if some sequences make you feel a little emotional.
“It is worth noting that whilst the story itself can be enjoyed as a stand-alone experience, a lot of its impact will be lessened if you aren’t familiar with Final Fantasy VII’s narrative.”
When it comes to combat, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion take an action-orientated approach that’ll see players mashing out combos with simple button presses, blocking attacks, and swiftly dodging out of the way when necessary. You can use the shoulder buttons to switch to materia to unleash magic attacks too, whilst item use is approached the same way. Simple, right? Well, there’s also the unique Digital Mind Wave system in play that essentially acts as a slot machine in the corner of the screen – match up three icons (based around characters you meet and numbers) and you’ll be able to use a special ability to unleash more damage or apply some buffs.
The Digital Mind Wave is a really cool idea that spices up battling that can otherwise feel a little ordinary, though the random nature of it does mean you might not always strike it lucky when you need to. There’ll be battles where you could do with some quick healing from three Aeriths being drawn but it doesn’t hit, whilst other occasions getting three Sephiroths and hitting an Octoslash would completely change the tide of battle… if you can get it. A win or a loss in battle can often be defined by your luck with the Digital Mind Wave, so not matching up the faces you want can be a bit of a nuisance. But still, with plenty of cool abilities and summons to utilise as well as some varying factors that can affect the success of the Digital Mind Wave, it still manages to stand out as a cool feature and one that gives Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion’s combat its own unique flair.
There are some other neat ideas in the game too, such as the Materia Fusion that allows players to craft their own unique materia combinations to achieve some powerful results, the array of mini-games that add variety to the gameplay loop, or the optional missions that give players 300 side tasks to complete that bring with them varying rewards. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is on the shorter side as far as RPGs are concerned (players can easily beat it in around fifteen hours or so), but there’s plenty to sink your teeth into if you want to get more out of it.
Check out some screenshots down below:
There really is a lot to like about Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, but there’s no escaping the fact that its linearity and mission-based setup won’t be for everyone. It’s always easy to know where exactly you need to go during the main story missions, whilst exploration is kept to a minimum. These kind of restraints were more understandable when playing on the limited PSP back in the day, but with other modern Final Fantasy titles offering a vast and expansive landscape to explore, it’s hard not to feel a little bit shackled here.
It doesn’t stop Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion from being a lot of fun to play though, whilst a lot of improvements have been made in to keep it up to the mark with modern releases. The visuals and animations have been revamped, the controls re-worked to offer more camera control, and the voice acting re-recorded, just to name a few improvements. Admittedly, the voice acting could be a bit hit and miss in places (you’ve only got to look on social media to see folk poking fun at Zack), but it really isn’t all that bad for the most part. Put it this way: you definitely won’t feel like you’re playing an old PSP title, with enough improvements made to make this feel like it belongs on your PlayStation 5.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion Review
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion holds its own in 2022 thanks to its enjoyable combat, gripping narrative, and fresh refinements. Sure, it can feel more linear than your typical Final Fantasy release and it will probably be Final Fantasy VII fans that appreciate it the most, but that doesn’t stop it from offering a genuinely engaging adventure that has some really cool ideas. It certainly looks the part too, and whilst the revamp doesn’t make it shine quite like the Final Fantasy VII Remake does, it’s still a very pretty game.
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy VII, there’s a good chance you’ve played Crisis Core already. And if you haven’t? Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the perfect opportunity to do so, with it offering the best way to experience the emotional and gripping adventure.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC