Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 serves as a prequel to the original Final Fantasy 7 game and takes place 7 years before the events of the original. Core Crisis focuses on a minor character, Zack Fair, who received a cult following similar to Boba Fett. Zack Fair is a soldier working for Shinra, a multi-national corporation that specializes in power supply and produce the majority of power in Midgar. He is similar to Sora from Kingdom Hearts but more seasoned. His main goal is to follow his dreams and to be a hero and to serve the people of Midgar through his actions as a soldier.
Zack Fair starts off as a rookie second class soldier and works under his mentor Angeal. Zack also develops close relationships with other Shinra members notably Cloud, Sephiroth, Tseng and Cissnei. He shares good chemistry with other characters and he easily makes friends. Zack like Sora, is very friendly and kind to others and is always eager to help. His loyalty is really to his friends and not to Shinra’s interests. Zack’s other main goal along with Cloud is to attain freedom and to just really be happy with his friends.
After a while working for Shinra, he starts to see the company’s misadventures and their illegal behavior and eventually he decides to follow his own ideals and he and Cloud decide to go rogue.
The character development for Zack is really great as you see how he follows his moral code and not succumb to the corruption of Shinra. It feels like a complete story from start to finish despite its fairly short length.
The game is mission based but it does allow a certain extent of world exploration. The graphics and cutscenes look really well made. Its visual style captures the same dark and brooding atmosphere the original had as well but in HD.
Midgar looks incredibly well detailed and a faithful replication of the original PS1 game. The city is construction and will be completed once Final Fantasy 7 takes place. You can also explore places that was also seen in Final Fantasy 7. This game contains the original stories of Final Fantasy 7 but it also has a few new arcs such as Zack’s heroic journey.
Legacy is another theme explored as each member of soldier has their own heroes’ legacy as well. Sephiroth is considered to be the best soldier Shinra has ever had. Angeal is considered to be the very example of what a soldier should be physically and morally. Zack’s legacy is still in progress and it develops as the game progresses and he creates his own legacy following the example of Angeal and to certain extents, Sephiroth.
Angel wings in the game symbolizes two things depending on the person, black wings means monsters and white wings represent freedom. It also shows how many events from the original Final Fantasy 7 happened like what made Cloud and Zack go rogue and you get to look more into Zack’s background.
In comparison to the earlier Final Fantasy games, this uses a more real time based combat but with turn based elements. The difficulty was pretty balanced for the most part. You can’t purchase weapons unlike other JRPG games in general but eventually, you do earn the Cloudbuster sword from Angeal. The combat is similar to Kingdom Hearts Hack And Slash but more restrictive. You can dodge, block and cast spells on enemies. There are a variety of new and returning enemies to this game.
This game has a pachinko like feature at the top left screen known as digital mind wave. During combat, if the numbers match, you receive temporary boosts like immunity to certain damages or infinite use of a certain spell or ability. When two characters match, it goes to a phase mode where randomly permanent boosts occur.
A matching 7-7-7 is how you level up in the game and matching 2 other numbers is how you level up special abilities and spells. If the characters icons match, then you are able to deliver a crippling attack or receive a status boost like increased health. Occasionally, summons will happen through the digital mind wave and if they match, each summon will deliver a crippling blow to an enemy. You can unlock summons as you progress through the game and complete side missions where you unlock the Materia required to use them. You can choose either to follow the main story or to do the side missions if you wish for full completion. You can equip various accessories and special abilities to utilize, you can equip up to four at a time.
There is also a similar feature to the melding system in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. You can combine special abilities or spells to create a more powerful variant or an entirely new item. You can also add in items to increase the potency of whatever you created but this cost sp points. The way to get more sp points is through successful digital mind wave bonuses or by defeating enemies.
Pausing the menu allows you to go through all of the different options. The user interface is similar to navigate like Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep and its easy and straightforward to use. You can unlock new stores as you progress through the game by finding certain passes that give access to the stores. You can take part in missions when you save checkpoints, and as you progress through the missions, more unlock and they get more challenging as time goes by.
Many of the original cast returns in the game with Yuffie and Tifa given supporting roles. Many of the Final Fantasy 7 voice actors reprise their roles and they do an excellent job despite the hilarious and cheesy dialogue. The music is a mix of new songs and remakes of the original soundtrack and they sound as good as the original especially Aerith’s theme and One Winged Angel.
There is a good amount of replay value in the game and there is a new game plus mode as well. In the western version, you can select either normal or hard mode.
Occasionally, there was small mini games that were quick time events like in one case where Zack had to slice missiles being shot at him.
The game has its share of flaws. The combat and the side missions gets repetitive after a while. The objectives are always the same: go to this marked location, kill the enemy and receive the award. You get into random encounters way too frequently and you cannot escape battle. Even after clearing one set, a few seconds later another random encounter happens. The combat should have been fully realtime as it makes the game feel more restrictive, even Birth By Sleep used a full real time combat system.
There is one massive narrative gap in the game that is not fully addressed in the other Final Fantasy 7 media. What happened to Cissnei and who is she really? It is not her real name and you never get to know it. She does not appear in the other Final Fantasy 7 games and its not explained what happened to her after Avalanche and Cloud decided to target the Turks alongside with Shinra.
The cutscenes were unskippable, in fact this was something overlooked during the production and by the time it was going to be released, it was way too late to change it and Square Enix regrets this mistake to this day. Disadia Final Fantasy had unskippable cutscenes and this was before this game was released. This is why they started adding cutscenes to lengthy moments as you would not have time to watch in future Square Enix games like Kingdom Hearts 3.
This is an excellent prequel for the Final Fantasy 7 era even better than Last Order.
It gets 4 stars out of 5.
With the Final Fantasy 7 remake coming around and Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy 15 gameplay mix being similar to this, this game is great starting point if you want to be familiar with the Final Fantasy 7 franchise.