I know I’m not the only gamer who got excited when a remake of Final Fantasy VII was announced last year at E3. This was news that some of us had been waiting for since Square revived the brand with the movie Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. The film brought to life characters and a world that in a way, really only lived in our imaginations. Cloud and company looked gorgeous and many of our nostalgic filled brains could only begin to imagine what such a classic could be like if presented this way. Then we received a tech demo, a teaser and finally a full announcement. It was like a dream come true! Except, was it?
Since its big reveal, details on the FF7 remake have been less then forthcoming. There has been no news on a release date, what’s being changed besides the graphics, and what’s being left alone. We can infer some of these changes from brief glimpses in the trailer, but very little has been made official yet. However, we are aware of one polarizing decision. Final Fantasy VII is being split into multiple parts. It’s more recently been clarified that these will not be episodic, like many assumed, but rather full releases more similar to the way Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, XIII-2 and Lightning Returns, were done. To me, this seems more confusing, seeing as the original game was massive, but also able to fit neatly on 3 original PlayStation discs.
And still, even with this news I’ve attempted to hold back judgement. I generally want to play a game before just deciding if it’s good or bad. FFVII will be no exception. I am not prepared to say whether splitting this game up or changes to the gameplay are good or bad yet. But that doesn’t stop me from having my own thoughts.
Now, I’m no game designer. I don’t have the first idea how to go about creating a game. I can assume it’s incredibly difficult given the amount of time, resources and manpower it takes to bring my favorite titles to life, but I don’t really know. While browsing YouTube, I came across an older video that made me really start thinking about what I would want from a FFVII remake. From the Extra Credits channel, the video is called A Generation of Remasters. Watch it, its quite good.
Now, here are my thoughts. I don’t have much desire to see Final Fantasy VII, a game I love and have played through a number of times, to look or play like the newest Final Fantasy entries. This appears to be the way Square Enix is going and I worry its a big mistake. Updating the world, characters, combat systems, etc. is, as that EC video points out, just as much work as making a new game. And we all know how long it takes to make a new FF game. Besides, as they also point out, that in no way preserves the original game. I feel strongly that FFVII is a game worth preserving (even if its not the best Final Fantasy game ever made).
How then, would this be accomplished. I feel like it would be easier than some might think. I would want them to keep the core of the game exactly. That means the world, and its artwork, the combat and the story. Leave these three items alone, and instead do what couldn’t be done in the mid 90’s.
FFVII biggest factor holding it back from modern gamers, is the character models are not only ugly, but completely inconsistent. The characters in the (few) cinematics, look pretty good, considering when it was released and they more closely resemble the same character designs in combat. However, anytime you’re in direct control of Cloud, either in towns or on the world map he looks, well, hideous. At the time, no big deal. We can use our imagination to fill in this particular blank. Today, however, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
So imagine if you will, booting up the Final Fantasy VII Remake when it finally releases. You see an opening movie reminiscent of the ones we’ve been shown so far. Of Cloud and company, looking surprisingly similar to their Advent Children counterparts. The cinematic closes, the train comes to a stop and out flips our hero. The camera position and layout strikingly similar to how they were in 1997, but with an extra layer of polish. Everything is still that drawn style, but it just pops off your HD screen, and Cloud’s character model is, proportional. He resembles the character you just saw in the opening, and you feel no disconnect between what you saw and who you’re now controlling.
Take a few steps forward and woosh; a random battle. This time, again, no disconnect. The characters lined up on one side of the screen actually look like the characters you’ve seen in the game. Up come the menus, and the you’re off to the races. You feel like you’re playing a classic turn based JRPG. Because that’s what Final Fantasy VII is! In this way, we preserve the games core, what made it special, but bringing it in line with new, more pleasing graphics. Using the tools of today to bring to life the games we played in the past. Games that deserve to be preserved, just like old films.
Of course, this is all just my opinion and everyone is going to have their own thoughts. Some I’m sure are just as happy to play FFVII as a PSOne classic. But I feel that more can be done. I feel that Square Enix can use the lessons which were learned even back in the late 90’s, with games like Final Fantasy VIII and IX, to make their games more accessible and more pleasing to the eye, without losing the core of the experience. I guess, what I’ve been trying to say is, I would rather see Final Fantasy VII HD, as opposed to a Final Fantasy VII reskin over FFXV.
I know many fans of Final Fantasy VII have an opinion on what the FFVII Remake should be. Are you happy with the apparent changes, do you agree with my outlook, or would you rather they leave well enough alone? Share your own thoughts in the comments below.