Review: Final Fantasy – Crisis Core
Suddenly the PSP sells like hot.. er… wasabi.
This game is another example of SquareEnix milking the Final Fantasy series. Over the recent years we’ve seen previously unheard of sequels or spinoffs to the main games such as X-II, Dirge of Cerberus and Revenant Wings, and on the near horizon we have many games over multiple platforms which make up FFXIII. SquareEnix are clearly trying to make the most of this particular cash cow, and there is no cow as rosy and ripe for the milking than FFVII, possibly one of the most loved RPG’s ever made.
This game is set in the same universe as FFVII and uses many of the same characters, but paying particular attention to Zack and his encounters with Sephiroth, Tseng of the Turks, Angeal a fellow Solider and Genesis a member of Solider who has gone AWOL with half of the Soldier army. Now if these names mean nothing to you then you may very well be left cold with the story of this game. It pulls no punches and expects you to have a full knowledge of Shinra and the world which it inhabits. But for fans of the series this story is told with some of the best graphics on the system, sumptuous cutscenes and generous amounts of voice acting. Unfortunately the voice acting isn’t of the highest standard. In particular Zack comes across as a highly excitable and annoying brat and Genesis’s constant musings, which must be an attempt to make him sound aloof, just end up becoming tiresome. Although he is based on everyone’s favourite J-pop star Gackt (Gashkt, more like – Ed).
The gameplay takes a massive departure from previous games as it’s more a third person action game in RPG dressing, you control only one character through the whole of the game and the leveling up and number crunching is mostly done back of house. The combat side of things is handled very well, with battles being instigated almost seamlessly with none of the usually loading. You control Zack in real time and are able to move him around the battleground to position him in the best location. Whilst masquerading as live action this system still harks back to the turn based mechanics of old, with baddies seemingly waiting to take their turns to attack you. But as a mix of the two schemes this comes as a very refreshing change.
Throughout all the combat you have a three reel slot machine spinning round in the top corner, the more action moves you do the more it spins. If these reels land on certain numbers or characters then they trigger events or status changes such as defence boost, invincibility, summons, limit breaks or level ups. Whenever you meet a new character or obtain a summon, they are added to the reels to give even more choice as to the possible combinations. Whilst I can appreciate how SquareEnix have tried to freshen up the traditional leveling system and make it more dynamic, it just feels a little random and out of control.
When I started to write this counterpoint I opened by talking about how Square-Enix are the biggest cock teases in the videogame industry and all everybody wants is a proper sequel to Vagrant Story and Chrono Trigger or even a simple HD update of FF7, but all they keep releasing is shit like Dirge of Cerberus and now Crisis Core. This went on for almost four hundred words before I regained my focus and some much needed catharsis. So to the game, is it any good? Well no, not really.
The whole trilogy of anniversary games has been tagged as just fan service and I have to agree. If you’re one of those fans with your Sepiroth figurines and Vincent art prints add a few points to the final score as your love for the franchise will help paper over the cracks in this game but for the rest of us be warned.
Unskippable and overlong cut scenes that would make Hideo Kojima bush, shallow, random button mashing gameplay, gratuitous cameos aplenty and needless call-backs to its older brother FF7 all these and more will make the non-fan cringe and even those who like and not love FF7 will get exasperated by the sheer amount of fan stroking going on here. Technically I can’t fault it as the production values are all high, especially the music but in the end it comes down to this: Did you LOVE Final Fantasy VII? Yes then get this if not stay the fuck away.
Secondary Score: 6/10
With the random selection of the summons or limit breaks it means that you have no control over when they will occur and you frequently use one to kill an easy baddie. As you’re never quite sure what is happening with these reels you can’t ever know when you will next level up, which sometimes leaves you feeling a little lost and unsure of how you stand. But, to give this leveling system it’s dues, as a means of ensuring a fair difficulty curve this succeeds removing any need to grind levels for a particular dungeon or boss.
There is also some streamlining done in the items and equipment side of things, with limited options for magic and abilities. You choose the spells or abilities you want from your menu and submit these to the action tab. When in battle you are limited to only using the actions by cycling through the selections with the shoulder buttons and selecting them with X. You are now no longer able to go into your magic menu mid battle and choose which spell to cast. This all adds to the fluidity of the combat and makes this game very easy and enjoyable to play, but at the cost of some depth.
The main story of this game is sufficient and if anything a bit on the short side. You generally start a mission from Shinra HQ, which you are allowed to wander around and shop and save in, you will be given an objective to complete from a memorable character from the series and then be transported to the relevant location. Gone is the world map and the ability to explore and locate secrets, instead you are left with a smallish map with most objectives requiring you to basically traverse the map and kill some boss. Each area is reletivley short and has ample save opportunity’s, so it’s easy to play this game without having to devote lots of time to it which benefits the handheld nature of the PSP.
It’s left to the side missions to add a dose of much needed depth. In total there are 300 missions which are selectable from the save points at Shinra HQ. These missions are sorted into groupings and given a difficulty rating to allow you to chose which type you will go after, and each is given a brief synopsis of what you need to do. The missions basically involve killing certain baddies, and looked at in this way are very minimal, but taken for a means to hone your skills, level up and seek new items and materia they are brilliant. Each mission can be completed in a few minutes, and are ideal for playing in any spare time you have. They are an excellent addition to this game and are tailor made for the portable handheld. Overall this game is a very competent entry into the PSP rota, and a great addition to the FFVII story.