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Final Fantasy VII Review: Why I Love It

The first role playing game I ever experienced was Final Fantasy VII. This was a game on the Playstation system, and I ran in to it because of a friend. I ended up falling in love with it, despite originally thinking that I would have no interest in it. Prior to this, I was more in to fighting and driving games, but once I got my hands on Final Fantasy VII my life changed… forever.

Before I actually got involved with Final Fantasy VII, I really did not understand what the game was all about, nor about the genre. It was a completely new world at the time, and that is probably what led to my refusal to jump in to it at first. I wanted to stay with what I was the most comfortable with. When I did start playing the game, I realized it was unlike anything else I had ever played. It required some strategy (for the fighting and bosses). As I played more and more, I learned that it was also based on a story and that it had some puzzles in it; while not technically designed as puzzles, it did require some thought in order to figure out where and when to go.

The Reading

This was a bad part for me in the beginning. I did not like to read, and role playing games are all about the story. As one might expect, that means a ton of reading. This is especially true in games back in that day, being that the amount of space on discs did not allow nearly enough room for everyone to have voices. So you had two choices: either read through all of the text and understand what is happening in the game and what characters there are or just skip it altogether and enjoy the game for its other aspects. I chose the latter.

My choice at the time led to me still enjoying the game and understanding who the characters are, but sometimes having to look up what to do next. Part of the way the game works is by allowing the story to tell you where you need to go, when you need to go and why you need to go there. If you happen to skip over these messages, it is very easy to get lost in the game and have no idea where you need to be next. Being that the game is also very open in nature, even when you know where you should go you can still get lost. But it gets even worse when you are just roaming around and hoping to figure it out on accident.

As I got older and I stopped being so adverse to reading, I did return to the game and do a full run through while reading the story. This made the game completely different from the first time I played, and I learned quite a bit along the way. I finally understood how the characters fit together and I learned why we did some of the things we did. This changed the way I play role playing games in general; instead of just rushing through them and playing through the game portion, I now read the text and follow the story as well. It has really enhanced the gaming for me, and I am glad I did give it a go when I did. Without this, I would still be rushing through the games, completing them but not having anything that is really worth remembering.

The Skills

The skills you can use in Final Fantasy VII are called materia. These came in a lot of different flavors, and they even have their own levels. As you play through the game and get a better understanding of how everything fits together, it gets easier to play properly. Until this point you can usually get along to a point, but you are not nearly as effective as you could be. It is right after you hit that “aha” moment that your experience jumps up considerably and your quality of life in the game is boosted greatly.

To bring about some strategy, there are many battles where you need to alter your skills depending on your character choices, gear and equipment types and levels. There is quite a bit to it, and it turns in to a type of puzzle all in its own. This is one of the great things about the game; it requires you to really think. If you do not plan around fights, you will not make it far in to the game. So it is also a learning experience that helps learn how to make strategies for other things as well. A lot of people try to put video games in a bad light, saying that they rot your brains and other things, but when it really comes down to it, it depends on which games and what they are all about. A game that requires a lot of thought like this is extremely helpful. Learning how to make up these plans and organize comes in great use in other areas of life.

The Gambling

This is an area where some may disagree with me, but I enjoyed the different mini games. You can go to a game room in the game where you can play games (at a cost) and earn tokens. These tokens are then turned in to money if you wish, so in a sense you are really just gambling. Even in this area, though, there are many games to choose from and all of them are skill based. The better you do, the more you win.

It is important to go ahead and separate the concept of traditional gambling from what happens in the game. In our normal gambling, we are putting up money in the hopes that we might win something. It could be based on a lottery or a card game. With Final Fantasy VII, though, it is all about playing skill based games, so once you get them locked down you will always win. It is pretty simple! Of course it does take a long time and a lot of work before you finally hit that point, but it is well worth it when you get there.

The entire situation of gambling in the game can be a little controversial because some are fully against it. There is even a NPC that spawns that is kind of like a black market dealer to sell you some coins. This presses the knowledge of shady behaviors being acceptable, but I think that if you are in the right mind set it will not cause any problems. Allowing younger kids to play a game like this already should not be done regardless, so I am not against these features.

Open World Exploration

It really does take a while before you get to this point in the game, but you are able to start exploring the different areas as you please. In fact, as events happen through the story line, you can see the changes in the world as you explore and you can visit those areas again to see the effects. These help immerse you in to the game's story and make you feel as if you are really part of the game. While there are many games that do this now and have the same (or better effects), this was something completely new that Final Fantasy VII brought to the table. I think if they had not done this, we would not be nearly as immersed as we are in other role playing games that we play today.

This also led to another thing, which was a massive, massive world. The game takes around four days of straight playing just to get to the end, and that is if you are skipping all of the chat, skipping all of the side missions and are not exploring for drops and such. This should help explain just how much game content there really is, but the game also spans across three discs. This was another thing that was not common (I think there were a couple others that had similar numbers after this point), and it helped understand that the game was very large.

Conclusion

Final Fantasy VII is my favorite game ever and it is what brought me in to playing both role playing games and MMORPGs. If it were not for being dragged in to that game, I never would have made the jump to games I play today like Guild Wars 2, RIFT and TERA. Instead, I would likely still be caught up in fighting and driving games.

A big part of what made me fall in love with the game is the sheer amount of content you find in it. Rather than being a game that you can beat in a few hours, it took days or weeks. And even then, you had not experienced even half of the game; there was just so much to do. It led me to the point where I hoped other games would come around that were similar, keeping enough content that I could play often and still have more to do. The only games that ended up fitting this bill, though, are the MMORPGs that have been released, and those that are more recent like RIFT and Guild Wars 2 are the only two games that really fit what I was hoping for. While there are some other wonderful games out there, these two went above and beyond what I wanted and really made me happy.

But even with that said, Final Fantasy VII will always have its place in my heart. When I speak to other gamers, they usually agree that it was the best game as well, which goes to show something. Now we just have to hope that at some point we get the remake that gets talked about from time to time but that has never been followed through on.

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