|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 24, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
The wait is finally over! The prequel to one of the most beloved entries in the Final Fantasy series is here. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a fast-paced and beautiful RPG that takes players through the dangerous, intrigue-filled world that The Shinra Company dominates. This title is, without a doubt, the very best RPG released for the PSP to date. The story is fantastic, the graphics are truly amazing, and the speed of combat should win over both fans and newcomers alike. Crisis Core hits on almost every level with just a few problems that somewhat hinder the game. Despite its few shortcomings though, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a must-buy title and could mark a possible turning point in the lifecycle of the PSP.
Crisis Core follows the naïve yet talented SOLDIER 2nd class Zack Fair on his way to becoming SOLDIER 1st class for The Shinra Company. He has been mentored by some of the best warriors the electrical company has ever had, including Angeal and Sephiroth. Zack's training is nearly complete, and this is where players will take over.
Zack's first mission is to investigate the mass desertion by a number of SOLDIERs of various ranks to the company's declared enemy, the Wu Tai. The story becomes even more twisted as the desertion becomes even wider spread. Zack's immaturity and inexperience will soon give way as he begins to learn who he really is, what he's fighting for, and just how important his honor is. To get any deeper into the story would spoil it for you, so I'll leave it there. However, know that the quality of the narrative is paralleled by only a few games on any system, and that it does a nice job of filling in many of the holes and unexplained intrigues of Final Fantasy VII.
The main set of quests and missions will recount this story and unfold mysteries of The Shinra Company, but there are also myriad side missions that will help to occupy your time, beef up your character, and hone your battle skills. These missions are accessed at any save point. Upon acceptance, you will be swept away to take on the challenge; and once finished, you will be transported back to the save point to continue the main quest. This system of bouncing between the main quest and the side missions is an efficient way to extend gameplay without getting players too sidetracked.
You'll be amazed at just how good the graphics are. The CG movies look like they could find a home on the PS3 and do an amazing job of helping to tell the story. The detailed characters, environments, and battle effects are both crisp and attractive. In fact, the graphics are so good that this is a game you can hook up to a larger display to share with friends and family without missing too much. There are a few jaggies to be seen, but the mild imperfections during gameplay are probably heightened due to the exquisite cutscenes that are oft mixed in throughout the title. Truly, if you have a problem with the quality of these graphics then there is just no pleasing you.
Other than the great visuals, the sound quality and original score are equally excellent. From the dreamlike Asian melodies to the hard riffs that spur you on into battle, Crisis Core is an absolute treat for the senses. The deep cast of voice actors is very solid, though some of the delivery of the dialogue can seem a bit stilted. However, the conversations and interactions between the characters should still satisfy all but the pickiest of critics. All in all, the presentation is utterly astounding. The hard work and craftsmanship that went into making this title is evident throughout. This game looks, sounds, and feels as if it could be a full console offering.
Combat is a mixed bag, however. It is both excellent and poor all at the same time. In order to clarify that statement I'll have to explain some of the technical aspects of how the game plays. Combat employs a pitched battle system like many other Final Fantasy titles, but instead of being ploddingly turn-based and 2D, it allows players to move around in a 3D space in order to flank their enemies and button mash their way to glory. The quick pacing is phenomenal and should be engaging to even the most ardent Final Fantasy opponents. It really feels like an action RPG.