Angry Robot

Tested: FF7 Crisis Core – A New Beginning

Prequels CAN be interesting. But the idea of what comes before isn’t relegated to just movies. Video games can also be expanded on in this manner, and that is the idea behind Square’s latest FF installment… Final Fantasy: Crisis Core for the PSP.

For those not familiar, Crisis Core is a prequel to Square’s epic and most popular role playing game, Final Fantasy 7. In this game you take control of Zack to fight as a 1st class member of Soldier and act as mentor to Cloud, FF7’s main hero. The game features cameos from younger versions of FF7 characters, but what really makes the game shine is the way they connect this new game to a game they created 11 years ago. I remember playing FF7 and think that Cloud and Zack were the result of some kind of cloning experiment. They seemed so similar back then. But now smart storytelling in Crisis Core helps to give Zack’s character some much-needed dimension.

The combat system is also something new. Square seems like one of those companies that liked to hold on to the old turn based style of RPG play – after all, they built an empire out of it. Crisis Core shows that this sentiment is slowly changing. The game operates more like an action RPG with you controlling only Zack in a combat environment with free movement. Materia works much in the same way it did in FF7, but now there is also a new addition in the form of a lottery slot system called Digital Mind Wave. The DMW looks very much like a futuristic casino slot machine with key characters from the story rotating in three slots. Aligning these characters can initiate special attacks but they can also implement status changes like strength and health. Though this new system is different, it kinda becomes a double edge sword. Nobody likes to fight bosses based on the luck of a slot machine to get special attacks or summon magic.

Compared to previous Final Fantasy chapters, this game was surprisingly easy. I suspect they did this because of the casual gaming nature of the PSP audience, but for those familiar with the FF series this chapter will be a quick read.

Square’s venture into feature filmmaking with Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children can also be felt in this game. FMVs look like deleted scenes from the DVD, giving the game some great eye candy to match some great game play.

Fans of the series will find this a nice side story to Final Fantasy 7, and newbies to the series will find this a great place to jump on board and experience FF7 at its true beginning.