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|Final Fantasy VII|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Square Product Development Division 1|
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
|Final Fantasy VII|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Square Product Development Division 1|
|Media/distribution||Optical disc, download|
Final Fantasy VII (ファイナルファンタジーVII) is a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) as the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation, in 1998 for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers and in 2009 on the PlayStation Network. The game is the first in the series to use 3D computer graphics, featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds, and was the first game in the main series to be released in Europe.
Final Fantasy VII follows protagonist Cloud Strife, who initially joins the eco-terrorist rebel organization AVALANCHE to stop the world-controlling megacorporation Shinra, who are draining the life of the planet for use as an energy source. As the story progresses, Cloud and his allies become involved in a larger world-threatening conflict, facing off against Sephiroth, the game's main antagonist.
Development of Final Fantasy VII began in 1994. The game was originally intended for release on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but was moved to the Nintendo 64. However, since the Nintendo 64's cartridges lacked the required storage capacity, Square decided to release the game for the CD-ROM based PlayStation instead. The game was designed and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, with direction by Yoshinori Kitase. The music was composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu, while the series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was replaced by Tetsuya Nomura.
Helped by a large pre-release promotional campaign, Final Fantasy VII became an immediate critical and commercial success. It has continued to sell solidly—10 million copies were sold by May 2010, making it the best-selling title in the series. Final Fantasy VII was praised for its graphics, gameplay, music and story. Criticism pertained to its English localization. It has retrospectively been acknowledged as the game that popularized the Japanese role-playing video game style outside of its home market, and has frequently ranked highly on various top game lists. The popularity of the title led Square Enix to produce a series of prequels and sequels for different platforms under the collective title Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
As with previous installments of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII consists primarily of three major areas: an overworld map, field maps, and a battle screen. The overworld map is a 3D model, featuring a scaled-down version of the game's fictional world, across which the player travels between the game's locations. As with preceding games in the series, the world map can be traversed by foot, on chocobos and in an airship or sea vessel (in this case, a submarine and a plane used as a boat). It also includes an additional means of transportation—a buggy.
On field maps, characters are directed across realistically scaled environments, consisting of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds which represent locations such as towns or forests. Initially, the player is restricted to the city of Midgar, but as the game progresses the entire world becomes accessible. Progression through the game's storyline is largely developed by way of scripted sequences, although pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes are also used.
The battle screen is a 3D representation of an area, such as a building's interior or an open grassland, in which the player commands the characters in battles against CPU-controlled enemies. While characters are super deformed on maps, the character models are more realistic and normal-scaled in combat. Final Fantasy VII is the first game in the series to have character models with fully rendered polygons, rather than 2D sprites. During battle sequences, the game uses the series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system first featured in Final Fantasy IV. Unlike previous games in the series, which allow 4-5 playable characters to participate in battle, Final Fantasy VII only allows three characters per battle.
Final Fantasy VII's skill system is built around the use of Materia—magical orbs that are placed in special slots on weapons and armor, allowing players to customize their party's ability to use magic, summons, and special abilities. However, most magic-based Materia also lowers an equipped character's physical attributes. In addition, certain types of Materia can be combined in a fixed number of ways to enhance their effects or produce other abilities. Summon spells feature in the game, equippable as Materia, with elaborately animated attacks. A modified form of Final Fantasy VI's "Desperation Attacks" appears in Final Fantasy VII as the "Limit Break." Every playable character has a bar that gradually fills up as they suffer damage in battle. When the bar is completely filled, the character is able to unleash his or her Limit Break, a special attack which generally inflicts significantly more damage on enemies than normal attacks, or otherwise aids the party in battle. Unlike Materia, each character has their own unique set of Limit Breaks, which are divided into four levels of strength, although one character, Cait Sith, has only two levels.
The game's setting is similar to that of Final Fantasy VI insofar as it is a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction milieu. The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to in the game as "The Planet", but retroactively named "Gaia", is composed of three main land masses. The eastern continent is home to the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the capital city and hosts the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, which operates as the planet's de facto world government. Other locations on the eastern continent are Junon (Shinra's major military base), Fort Condor (a fort with a huge condor covering up a Mako reactor on top of it), a chocobo ranch, and Kalm (a small town inspired by medieval Europe).
The western continent features the Gold Saucer (an amusement park with Corel Prison below), Costa Del Sol (a seaside resort), Gongaga (a small town containing the remains of a destroyed Mako reactor), Nibelheim (a town residing at the base of Mt. Nibel), Rocket Town (the location of Shinra's failed space rocket launch), and Cosmo Canyon. The tribe inhabiting Cosmo Canyon emphasize living in harmony with nature and dedicating themselves to the planet's well-being. Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as the "Study of Planet Life", a lifestyle that encourages deference for nature and teaches that the planet has a life and energy of its own.
Wutai, a village inspired by pre-modern Japan and China, is located on a large island off the western continent. The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated landmass, and its few settlements include Bone Village (an excavation site), Icicle Inn (a ski resort town), the mythical "City of the Ancients", and the Northern Crater, where the game's climax takes place. There are also underwater locations accessible only by submarine; for example, a sunken Shinra plane transporter.
The nine main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who claims to be a former 1st Class member of Shinra's SOLDIER unit; Barret Wallace, the leader of the anti-Shinra rebel group AVALANCHE; Tifa Lockhart, a martial artist and a member of AVALANCHE, also a childhood friend of Cloud's; Aerith Gainsborough, a flower merchant who has been pursued by Shinra's special operations unit, the Turks, since childhood; Red XIII, a wise lion-like creature who was experimented on by Shinra scientists; Cait Sith, a fortune-telling robotic cat who rides an animated moogle doll; Cid Highwind, a pilot whose dreams of being the first man in outer space were not realized; Yuffie Kisaragi, a young ninja and a skillful thief; and Vincent Valentine, a former member of Shinra's Turks unit, who was experimented on 30 years prior to the start of the game. The game's main antagonist is Sephiroth, a former member of SOLDIER who reappears several years after he was thought dead.
Final Fantasy VII begins with Cloud, working as a mercenary for hire, joining the eco terrorist group AVALANCHE in a series of raids against the Mako reactors surrounding the city of Midgar. Although the first mission is successful, AVALANCHE is trapped at another reactor during a subsequent raid. The reactor explodes, launching Cloud from the upper levels of Midgar into the slums below. He lands on a flower bed, where he is formally introduced to Aerith, a girl he briefly met after his first mission with AVALANCHE. Prompted by the arrival of the Turks, who have been sent to capture Aerith, Cloud agrees to act as her bodyguard and defends her from their assault. Meanwhile, Shinra discovers the location of AVALANCHE's hideout, and subsequently destroys it by demolishing the entirety of Sector 7, killing its population and three members of AVALANCHE in the process. The Turks were also successful in the capture of Aerith, who is revealed to be the last surviving "Cetra", an ancient race closely attuned with the planet and previously thought to be extinct. President Shinra believes Aerith can lead him to the "Promised Land", a mythical land of fertility, where he expects to find an abundant source of Mako energy.
Cloud, along with the remaining members of AVALANCHE infiltrate Shinra corporate headquarters to rescue Aerith, but are captured and detained within the building, where they are joined by Red XIII. However, during the night, they discover their cells have been mysteriously opened and upon further inspection, they find that most of the personnel in the building, including the president, have been killed by Sephiroth, a legendary SOLDIER who was presumed dead. The party encounters Palmer, who tells them that Sephiroth stated he would never allow Shinra to claim the Promised Land.
The group learns that during Sephiroth's attack on Shinra, the headless body of a creature named "Jenova" disappeared from the building's research facility. While the president's son, Rufus Shinra, assumes control of the company, the party pursues Sephiroth across the planet, fearing his intentions for the Promised Land may be more destructive than Shinra's. They are joined on their travels by Cait Sith and Cid, and (optionally) by Vincent and Yuffie.
Eventually, the party discovers that Shinra has produced "clones" of Sephiroth, subjects with Jenova and Sephiroth DNA, and Sephiroth, revealed to be a Jenova based avatar, has murdered as many of the clones as possible. After manipulating Cloud into giving him Meteor materia, the avatar reveals Sephiroth's plan: if the world is significantly damaged, the Lifestream will gather in an attempt to heal the wound. Sephiroth intends to use a powerful spell called "Meteor" to cause this injury, and then merge with the planet's energy, allowing him to be reborn as a god and rule over the planet. While the party rests overnight, Aerith sets off to stop the Jenova "Sephiroth" on her own, following him to the northern continent and an ancient Cetra city. However, after finding Aerith praying to the planet for aid, "Sephiroth" kills her with his sword and leaves a Jenova piece to battle Cloud and his allies.
Cloud and his allies track "Sephiroth" to the North Crater, where the Jenova powered Avatar is killed by Cloud. He reclaims the Meteor materia from the body, but is manipulated by a Sephiroth created illusion of Tifa to deposit the Meteor materia within a crystal cocoon of Mako containing Sephiroth's complete, sleeping body. Cloud comes to believe he is one of the Jenova clones created by Professor Hojo.
Jenova is shown to be an interstellar creature who crashed on the planet roughly 2,000 years before the game's events. Jenova had intended to infect all living organisms with a virus, causing insanity and monstrous transformations, and among its initial victims were most of the Cetra. Attempting to defend itself from Jenova's plague, the planet created giant monsters called "WEAPON"s. The majority of humans fled rather than fight Jenova; however, a small group of Cetra survivors managed to defeat Jenova without the need for the WEAPONs, and bury its remains. Eventually, the remains of Jenova were unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for Shinra. Mistaking the creature for an actual Cetra, Gast was given authorization to conduct an experiment to artificially produce a living Cetra by combining cells from Jenova with the fetus of an unborn child.
It is revealed that while on a Shinra mission with Cloud, in Cloud and Tifa's hometown of Nibelheim, Sephiroth had learned that he was the product of this experiment. Concluding that he was a Cetra who had been produced solely from Jenova's genetic material, he burned down Nibelheim, intending to kill all descendants of those he believed had abandoned his ancestors in the defense of the planet. Cloud confronted Sephiroth during the massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished and was presumed dead until his reappearance in the Shinra building. When the party travels to the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth after the death of Aerith, Sephiroth tells Cloud that Cloud was not in Nibelheim during the mission, showing him images of a SOLDIER with dark hair who occupies Cloud's place in his memories. Tifa is unable to refute Sephiroth's claims about Cloud's absence during the mission, and Sephiroth casts the Meteor spell, causing the planet to awaken the WEAPONs in response. During the earthquake that follows, Cloud is separated from his companions and falls into the Lifestream.
As the Meteor summoned by Sephiroth's crystallized form approaches the planet, Shinra focuses its efforts on protecting humanity from the WEAPONs, as well as attempting to defeat Sephiroth, in the hopes that this will dismiss Meteor itself. Meanwhile, Cloud is found in a catatonic state in a hospital in a tropical resort, where he washed up following the casting of Meteor. However, shortly after the party arrive, the WEAPONs' destructive activity causes the island to split open, and Cloud and Tifa fall into the Lifestream, where she reconstructs his memories and learns the truth about his past.
It is revealed that Cloud never joined SOLDIER, and that the dark-haired SOLDIER in Sephiroth's pictures was Aerith's first love and Cloud's best friend, Zack Fair. Cloud had been present during the incident in Nibelheim, but as a Shinra guard. After Sephiroth had set fire to the town, Zack, Tifa, and Cloud had confronted him, and although Tifa and Zack were defeated, Cloud was able to throw Sephiroth into the Lifestream, carrying with him Jenova's head. Rather than dying, however, Sephiroth's mind was crystallized in Mako inside the Northern Crater, where he could influence Jenova "infected" subjects, and reconstruct his body (in stasis) over the course of five years. Cloud and Zack were apprehended by Shinra as part of a cover-up of Sephiroth's massacre. Professor Hojo subjected the survivors to his first experiment with Sephiroth "clones", performing the same enhancements given to SOLDIER members—a procedure which included Mako showers and the injection of Jenova cells. All but Zack entered a comatose state, and nearly three years later, Zack broke free from his confinement, escaping the lab and taking Cloud with him. With Cloud still in a confused semi-conscious state, Zack was killed outside Midgar by Shinra soldiers during the escape. Afterward, Tifa found Cloud in a nearby train station, and offered him a job with AVALANCHE. Shortly thereafter, the mission with which the game opens took place. However, the alien Jenova cells in Cloud's body allowed Sephiroth to modulate his behavior, and the cells' ability to duplicate information allowed Cloud's mind to construct a false persona built around Zack's behavior.
After Cloud and Tifa emerge from the Lifestream, it is revealed that Aerith, in her final moments, was attempting to cast the spell "Holy", the only means of opposing Meteor. The group decide to destroy the rampaging WEAPONs before approaching Sephiroth. Among the few survivors of the Shinra company are Reeve Tuesti, who is revealed to be the repentant controller of Cait Sith, and Professor Hojo, who is revealed to be Sephiroth's biological father. He explains that he and his wife were assistants to Professor Gast, and offered up their unborn child as a test subject to the research involving Jenova.
After finding out that Hojo is trying to help Sephiroth gain mastery over the Lifestream, the party kills him. In their final assault against Sephiroth, who has reshaped his awakened body into a godlike form, the group travels through the Northern Crater to the planet's core. They defeat Sephiroth, allowing Holy to be released, but the spell is unable to destroy Meteor alone. Selected as Meteor's initial target, Midgar is almost completely destroyed. However, the Lifestream itself rises from the planet to aid Holy in destroying Meteor.
During the epilogue, taking place 500 years after the game's events, Red XIII runs through a canyon with two cubs at his side. He proceeds up a cliff-face, which reveals a lush land of greenery in which stand the ruins of Midgar.
Planning sessions for Final Fantasy VII began in 1994 after the release of Final Fantasy VI. At the time, the game was intended to be another 2D project for the Super Nintendo. Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi originally planned for the story to take place in New York in the year 1999, and as such, the original script of Final Fantasy VII, which was written by Sakaguchi, was completely different from the finished product. Tetsuya Nomura recalled how Sakaguchi "wanted to do something like a detective story." The first part of the story involved a "hot blooded" character named "Detective Joe" who was in pursuit of the main characters, after they had blown up the city of Midgar, which had already been developed for the story. The final scenario was written by Kazushige Nojima and Yoshinori Kitase, based on the story by Sakaguchi and Nomura. Masato Kato was brought into the project later and wrote three scenes for the game.
However, several of the staff members were working in parallel on Chrono Trigger, and development for Final Fantasy VII was interrupted when the other project became significant enough to require the help of Kitase and other designers. Some of the ideas originally considered for Final Fantasy VII ultimately ended up in Chrono Trigger instead. Other ideas, such as the New York setting and the sorceress character Edea, were kept unused until the later projects Parasite Eve and Final Fantasy VIII respectively.
Development resumed in late 1995, and required the efforts of approximately 120 artists and programmers, using PowerAnimator and Softimage 3D software. It was the most expensive video game of its time, with a budget of around US$45 million, equivalent to $64 million in 2012. Kitase was concerned the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D graphics being used in other games, and production began after the completion of a short, experimental tech demo called Final Fantasy SGI for Silicon Graphics' Onyx workstations. The demo featured polygon-based 3D renderings of characters from Final Fantasy VI in a real time battle. This experiment led the development team to integrate these design mechanics into Final Fantasy VII. However, as a result of the high quantity of memory storage required to implement the motion data, only the CD-ROM format would suit the project's needs. Nintendo, for whom Square had developed previous titles in the Final Fantasy series, had decided to continue to use cartridges for its upcoming Nintendo 64 console. This eventually led to a dispute that resulted in Square ending its relationship with Nintendo. Instead, they announced on January 12, 1996 that they would be developing Final Fantasy VII for Sony's PlayStation platform.
For the first time since working on Final Fantasy on the Famicom, Sakaguchi made the gameplay systems a priority over the story, as the team's main concern during the development of the game was how to implement the 3D. The transition from 2D graphics to 3D environments overlaid on pre-rendered backgrounds was accompanied by a focus on a more realistic presentation. While the extra storage capacity and computer graphics gave the team the means to implement more than 40 minutes of full motion video (FMV) movies, this innovation brought with it the added difficulty of ensuring that the inferiority of the in-game graphics in comparison to the FMV sequences was not too obvious. Kitase has described the process of making the in-game environments as detailed as possible to be "a daunting task." The series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was opening art workshops and exhibitions in France and New York, which limited his involvement in the game. As a result, Tetsuya Nomura was appointed as the project's character designer, while Amano aided in the design of the game's world map.
Several of Nomura's designs changed during development from their initial conceptions. For example, Cloud's original design of slicked-back black hair with no spikes was intended to serve as a contrast to Sephiroth's long, flowing silver hair. Nomura feared, however, that such masculinity could prove unpopular with fans, and therefore he changed Cloud's design to feature a shock of spiky, bright blond hair. Vincent changed from researcher to detective to chemist, and finally to the figure of a former Turk with a tragic past. Nomura has indicated that Cid Highwind's fighting style resembles that of a Dragoon Knight, a character class which was chosen because his last name is the same as that of two previous Dragoon Knights featured in the Final Fantasy series, Ricard Highwind of Final Fantasy II and Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV.
The music for Final Fantasy VII was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Instead of recorded music and sound effects for the game, Uematsu opted for MIDIs, using the PlayStation's internal sound chip. Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to include a track with digitized vocals; specifically in "One-Winged Angel", which has been described as Uematsu's "most recognizable contribution" to the music of the Final Fantasy series. Uematsu has said the soundtrack has a feel of "realism", which prevented him from using "exorbitant, crazy music."
In early August 1996, a demonstration disc called "Square's Preview Extra" was released in Japan as a bonus pack-in with the PlayStation game Tobal No. 1. The disc contained the earliest playable demo of Final Fantasy VII and previews of other upcoming games such as Bushido Blade and SaGa Frontier. The demo allowed players to play through the first part of Midgar. However, there were some noticeable differences from the final version, namely that Aerith was featured in the initial party and the ability to use Summons had not yet been implemented.
The game's release in North America was preceded by a massive three-month marketing campaign, which consisted of three 30-second television commercials on major networks, a one-minute long theatrical commercial, a holiday promotion with Pepsi, and printed ads in publications such as Rolling Stone, Details, Spin, Playboy and comic books published by Marvel and DC Comics. Several additions to gameplay and story were made for the game's North American release, such as easier exchange of materia, arrows highlighting exits on field screens, and an extra cutscene, prompting a re-release in Japan under the title Final Fantasy VII International. On December 18, 2012 this version was re-released as part of the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box Japanese package.
In 1998, Final Fantasy VII was ported to Windows-based PCs. This re-release featured smoother graphics, and also fixed translation and spelling errors, as well as gameplay-related glitches. However, the PC version suffered from its own bugs, including errors in the display of some FMVs when rendering in hardware mode on certain graphics chipsets. Since the original PC release of the game, fans have created hundreds of mods for the PC version of the game. The most prominent community being the Qhimm.com forum community, featuring various mods including game patches (for better compatibility with modern Windows and graphics cards), PC-PS save game converter, save game editor, game trainers, character models, world map, cutscenes, music, and battle stages.
In addition to the PlayStation and PC releases, the game was released onto the PlayStation Network in Japan on April 10, 2009, in North America on June 2, 2009, and in Europe and Australia on June 4, 2009. The Japanese release is the International version. The PSN release of the game was downloaded 100,000 times during its first two weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation game on the PlayStation Network.
On July 4, 2012, Square Enix revealed that a PC re-release was forthcoming. It was subsequently released on August 14. The game features 36 new achievements to be unlocked, "Cloud Saves", and a "Character Booster" feature. This remasterization for modern PCs was developed by DotEmu and is available exclusively via the Square Enix store. The game can be played at Full HD (1920x1080) resolution, but does not feature revamped graphics. The release is primarily aimed to port the classic game into a downloadable game to be run on modern Windows OSs (XP/Vista/7) and DirectX 9.0c.
The game's soundtrack was released on four CDs. One of the most famous pieces from the soundtrack is "Aerith's Theme", which is most noticeably played after Aerith is killed by Sephiroth. It has become popular among fans, and has inspired several arrangements. A single-disc album of selected tracks from the Original Soundtrack and three arranged tracks, entitled Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, was released separately. Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII, a piano arrangement of selected tracks, was released in 2003. Several tracks from the game have been remixed in subsequent Square productions, including Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts. In 2012, music from the soundtrack entered the Classic FM Hall of Fame at number 16.
|Metacritic||92 / 100|
|GameStats||10.0 / 10|
|Computer and Video Games||9 / 10 (PC)|
|Edge||9 / 10|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||9.5 / 10|
|Famitsu||38 / 40|
|GameFan||100+ / 100|
|Game Informer||9.75 / 10|
|GameSpot||9.5 / 10 (PS)|
8.0 / 10 (PC)
|IGN||9.5 / 10 (PS)|
8.2 / 10 (PC)
|Official PlayStation Magazine (US)|||
|PC Gamer US||90% (PC)|
|PC Zone||93% (PC)|
|Computer Gaming World||(PC)|
|Computer Games Magazine||(PC)|
|Just Adventure||A+ (PS)|
|Next Generation Magazine||5 / 5|
Final Fantasy VII was both a critical and commercial success, and set several sales records. Within three days of its release in Japan, the game had sold 2.3 million copies. This popularity inspired thousands of retailers in North America to break street dates in September to meet public demand for the title. In the game's debut weekend in North America, it sold 330,000 copies, and had reached sales of 500,000 units in less than three weeks. The momentum established in the game's opening weeks continued for several months; Sony announced the game had sold one million copies in North America by early December, prompting business analyst Edward Williams from Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. to comment, "Sony redefined the role-playing game (RPG) category and expanded the conventional audience with the launch of Final Fantasy VII." As of December 25, 2005, the game had sold over 9.8 million copies worldwide, making it the highest-selling game in the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VII is credited as "the game that sold the PlayStation," as well as allowing role-playing games to find a place in markets outside Japan. As of May 2010, it had sold 10 million copies worldwide, making it the most popular title in the series in terms of units sold.
Upon release, the game received widespread acclaim from critics. It was referred to by GameFan as "quite possibly the greatest game ever made," a quote which continues to feature prominently on the back cover of the game's jewel case. GameSpot commented that "never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII," expressing particular favor toward the game's graphics, audio, and story. IGN's Jay Boor insisted the game's graphics were "light years beyond anything ever seen on the PlayStation," and regarded its battle system as its strongest point. RPGamer praised the game's soundtrack both in variety and sheer volume, stating that "Uematsu has done his work exceptionally well" and "is perhaps at his best here."
Reviewers also praised the game's Windows conversion, but criticized it for its lower-quality pre-rendered visuals and audio, and for its framerate and installation problems. Computer Games Magazine said that "[no] game in recent memory" had such a "tendency to fail to work in any capacity on multiple [computers]." Computer Gaming World complained that the "music, while beautifully composed, is butchered by being dependent on your sound card," and Next Generation Magazine found the game's pre-rendered backgrounds significantly less impressive than those of the PlayStation version. However, the latter magazine found the higher-resolution battle visuals "absolutely stunning," and Computer Games Magazine said that they "[show] off the power of [a] PC equipped with a 3D card." All three magazines concluded by praising the game despite its technical flaws, and PC Gamer summarized that, while "Square apparently did only what was required to get its PlayStation game running under Windows," Final Fantasy VII is "still a winner on the PC."
Final Fantasy VII has received some negative criticism as well. Square's announcement that it would be produced for Sony rather than Nintendo and that it would not be based on the Final Fantasy SGI demo was met with discontent among some gamers. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (OPM) and GameSpot questioned the game's highly linear progression. OPM considered the game's translation "a bit muddy" and felt the summon animations were "repetitive." RPGamer cited its translation as "packed with typos and other errors which further obscure what is already a very confusing plot." GamePro also considered the Japanese-to-English translation a significant weakness in the game, and IGN regarded the ability to use only three characters at a time as "the game's only shortcoming."
Final Fantasy VII was given numerous Game of the Year awards in 1997. It won in the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' first annual Interactive Achievement Awards in the categories "Console Adventure Game of the Year" and "Console Role Playing Game of the Year" (it was also nominated in the categories "Interactive Title of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics" and "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design"). In the Origins Award, it won in the category "Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1997." It was also awarded the "Readers' Choice All Systems Game of the Year", "Readers' Choice PlayStation Game of the Year" and "Readers' Choice Role-Playing Game of the Year" by EGM.
Since 1997, it has been selected by many game magazines as one of the top video games of all time, including as 91st in EGM's 2001 "100 Best Games of All Time", and as fourth in Retro Gamer's "Top 100 Games" in 2004. In 2005, it was ranked as 88th in IGN's "Top 100 Games of All Time" and as third in PALGN's "The Greatest 100 Games Ever". Final Fantasy VII was included in the "The Greatest Games of All Time" list by GameSpot in 2006, and ranked as second in Empire's 2006 "100 Greatest Games of All Time", as third in Stuff's "100 Greatest Games" in 2008 and as 15th in Game Informer's 2009 "Top 200 Games of All Time." GameSpot placed it at the top of its list of the most influential games ever made in 2001, and as second in 2002; in 2007, GamePro ranked it 14th on the list of the most important games of all time, and in 2009 it finished in the same place on their list of the most innovative games of all time. In 2012, Time named it one of "All-TIME 100 Video Games".
It has also appeared in numerous other greatest game lists. In 2007, Dengeki PlayStation gave it the "Best Story", "Best RPG" and "Best Overall Game" retrospective awards for games on the original PlayStation. GamePro named it the best RPG title of all time in 2008, and featured it in their 2010 article "The 30 Best PSN Games." In 2012, GamesRadar also ranked it as the sixth saddest game ever. On the other hand, GameSpy ranked it seventh on their 2003 list of the most overrated games (in 2011, Destructoid argued "why Final Fantasy VII is not overrated").
Final Fantasy VII has often placed at or near the top of many reader polls of all-time best games. It was voted the "Reader's Choice Game of the Century" in an IGN poll in 2000 and placed second in the "Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time" by Japanese magazine Famitsu in 2006 (it was also voted as ninth in Famitsu's 2011 poll of most tear-inducing games of all time). Users of GameFAQs voted it the "Best Game Ever" in 2004 and in 2005, and placed it second in 2009. In 2008, readers of Dengeki magazine voted it the best game ever made, as well as the ninth most tear-inducing game of all time.
In addition to the PlayStation and PC releases, the game was released onto the PlayStation Network in Japan on April 10, 2009, in North America on June 2, 2009, and in Europe and Australia on June 4, 2009. The Japanese release is the International version. The PSN release of the game was downloaded 100,000 times during its first two weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation game on the PlayStation Network. The game has also inspired an unofficial version for the NES by Chinese company Shenzhen Nanjing Technology. This port features the Final Fantasy VII game scaled back to 2D, with some of the side quests removed.
The game's popularity and open-ended nature also led director Kitase and scenario writer Nojima to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2. The character Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2 proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from within the planet Spira. Nojima has stated that Shinra and his proposal are a deliberate nod to the Shinra Company, and that he envisioned the events of Final Fantasy X-2 as a prequel to those in Final Fantasy VII. The FMV sequences and computer graphics used in Final Fantasy VII allowed Sakaguchi to begin production on the first Final Fantasy film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The game also introduced settings suffused with modern-to-advanced technology into the Final Fantasy series, a theme continued by Final Fantasy VIII and The Spirits Within. Re-releases of Square games in Japan with bonus features would occur frequently after the release of Final Fantasy VII International. Later titles that would be re-released as international versions include Final Fantasy X (as "International"), Final Fantasy X-2 (as "International + Last Mission"), Kingdom Hearts (as "Final Mix"), Kingdom Hearts II (as "Final Mix"), and Final Fantasy XII (as "International Zodiac Job System").
Several characters from Final Fantasy VII have also made cameo appearances in other Square Enix titles, most notably the fighting game Ehrgeiz and the popular Final Fantasy-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts. Additionally, fighting video game Dissidia Final Fantasy includes Final Fantasy VII characters such as Cloud and Sephiroth, and allows players to fight with characters from throughout the Final Fantasy series, and its follow-up, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, included Tifa as well. Aerith's death in the game has often been referred as one of the most emotional moments from any video game, while Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history.
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII is the formal title for a series of games, animated features and short stories based in the world of Final Fantasy VII. The series consists of several titles across various platforms, all of which are extensions of the original story. The first title in the Compilation is the mobile game Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, a prequel focusing on the Turks' activities six years prior to the original game, including their first encounter with AVALANCHE. The CGI film sequel Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, set two years after the events of the game, was the first title announced in the series, but it was the second to be released. Special DVD editions of the film included Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, an original video animation that recounts the destruction of Nibelheim. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and its mobile phone counterpart, Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII, are third-person shooters set three years after the events of Final Fantasy VII and one after the events of Advent Children. Dirge focuses on Vincent Valentine, and goes into more detail regarding his backstory than the original Final Fantasy VII. The most recent title is the PlayStation Portable game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, an action role-playing game that revolves around Zack's past. Also included in the Compilation is On the Way to a Smile, a collection of seven short stories written by Kazushige Nojima, and set between the end of Final Fantasy VII and the beginning of Advent Children. Originally only three stories were released: "Case of Barret", "Case of Tifa" and "Case of Denzel", but with the release of Advent Children Complete, four more stories were written; "Case of Nanaki", "Case of Yuffie", "Case of Shinra" and "Case of Lifestream - White & Black".
Releases not under the Compilation label include, Maiden Who Travels the Planet, which follows Aerith's journey in the Lifestream after her death at the hands of Sephiroth, taking place concurrently with the second half of the original game. Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding is a mobile port of the snowboard minigame featured in Final Fantasy VII, which contains different course than the original minigame. The game is downloadable on V Cast-compatible mobile phones, and was first made available in 2005 in Japan and North America.
With the announcement and development of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, speculation spread that an enhanced remake of the original Final Fantasy VII would be released for the PlayStation 3. This speculation was sparked at the 2005 E3 convention by the release of a video featuring the opening sequence of Final Fantasy VII recreated using the PlayStation 3's graphical capabilities. Further speculation was raised due to thank-you notes for "the Final Fantasy VII PS3 testing team" in the credits of both Advent Children and Crisis Core. However, it was pointed out that the notes could have been aimed at the testers for the PSN release of Final Fantasy VII, or that Advent Children and Crisis Core used graphical assets from the PS3 demo. The initial speculation was put to rest when Square Enix president Yoichi Wada explained the presentation was intended only for technological demonstration purposes, and an official statement from the company said that no remake was in development as part of the Compilation.
In 2009, Yoshinori Kitase said at the Games Convention, "As for a VII remake, all I can advise right now is to play the PSN release that has come out for the time being. Maybe we'll have some news for you at a later time. I'm actually working on multiple projects right now, I don't know exactly what new projects I'll be taking on after XIII, but I am working on Final Fantasy Agito XIII, too. Maybe I'll be able to focus a little more on that project once XIII is complete." In January 2010, Tetsuya Nomura said, “Fans are looking forward to an oft rumored remake of FFVII, but I don’t believe this will happen for the time being.” In February 2010, Kitase said that in order to give a PS3 port of Final Fantasy VII a similar quality to Final Fantasy XIII, it "would take as much as three or four times longer than the three and a half years it has taken to put this Final Fantasy together! So it's looking pretty unrealistic to happen!" Kitase also commented that making games with the same style as Final Fantasy VII for the PS3 is very difficult, as it would take the staff too much time to create the graphics; because of this, Final Fantasy XIII is "more linear" than previous titles. In a March 2010 interview, however, Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama stated, "If we had the manpower and the time to work on a project, if we were to remake Final Fantasy VII with the quality of Final Fantasy XIII it would become a tremendous project. If we can get the number of people we need by all means that would be the one I would really want to remake." In March 2010, CEO Yoichi Wada revealed they were exploring the possibility of a remake, following the high demand. However, in June 2012, the company announced that "[we] will only consider this once a brand new game in the franchise exceeds the quality of that found in FF7."
Due to the number of questions GamesRadar received about the game's remake they featured it in their article "5 reasons to hate Final Fantasy", yet they wished it could be released so that fans would stop asking them about it. GamesRadar also published an article called "The truth about the Final Fantasy VII remake", stating despite the staff's comments they will not produce a remake; interviews from mid-2009 onwards gave gamers hope that it is still possible a remake will be released. In 2011, GameTrailers ranked it second on a list of the games that most needed remakes, whilst Cheat Code Central ranked it fourth on a similar list. In 2011, NowGamer ranked it as number one on the list they would like to be remade. PSU.com ranked it as number one on such lists twice, in 2008 (games to be revived for the PlayStation 3) and in 2011 (PSone classics to be remade).
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