Back in 2007, the gaming industry was very different from what it is today. This was especially thanks to how popular Sony’s PSP was. Not only did the company have a superb handheld under its belt but its relationship with Square Enix, which is still present today, spawned multiple exclusives on the hardware too. One of which was Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7. Given Square Enix’s focus on remaking the Final Fantasy VII story, it only made sense that the developer revive this classic portable RPG for modern hardware. Over ten years later, it still holds up as an impressive game that even puts some modern RPGs to shame.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is the definitive way to experience the prequel to Final Fantasy VII. Sure, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the protagonist Zack Fair’s future in the upcoming second chapter of the remake but for now, we’ll just have to hope Square Enix knows what it is doing. The remake of the 2007 PSP game holds up well considering it isn’t technically a “remake” so to say. Instead, Square Enix has ported the PSP over to modern hardware and revamped almost every aspect of the game.
There are dramatically upgraded visuals, full voice acting and some much-needed changes to the game’s menus and systems which help eliminate some cumbersome mechanics. In comparison to the Final Fantasy VII Remake, don’t expect the same level of production but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a remarkable adventure.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion follows the story of Zack Fair, a fighter who swears to stand and defend Shinra in all ways possible. The early parts of the game see Zack work his way up the Soldier ranks alongside other characters. There are some new faces including Genesis and Angeal. You’ll also get to meet the infamous Sephiroth in his early years.
After Zack discovers that Shinra isn’t what it seems, conflict ensues which sparks the events that lead to Final Fantasy VII. The tension surrounding Zack, Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth lay down the foundations for the whole story including the antagonist’s rise to madness and power.
While Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is a prequel, there’s a lot going on in the game that makes it stand on its own. This is held up by its fun combat and of course, its introduction of characters which you’ll likely know from the modern games. These characters and interactions are also elevated by the new voice work and visuals. Thanks to this, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion manages to tell the same story but also tug on the emotional strings even more. It is just better to hear and see these characters in the flesh rather than reading lines of text on the screen.
Even though Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion isn’t a remake, the developers have done an incredible job polishing up the experience. Most of the combat systems remain intact but the visuals are a welcome revamp. I was especially pleased to see how great the character models were in the game. High-res textures and some decent facial animations go a long way to expand the narrative here. Even some environments still hold up on their own. Assets have been reworked and it all looks very pretty.
One thing I was especially impressed with is how well Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion handles its HDR. Spells, explosions, slashes and even computer screens lit up my rooms thanks to how well the colour range has been implemented in the game. Every lightning bolt shot across the screen and I could easily sit back and enjoy these effects. It is quite an achievement considering the original 2007 game was released on a PSP with a 480 x 272 display.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion features a fast-paced combat system that many will enjoy. However, at its core, it is quite bland in comparison to other modern-day RPGs. Thankfully, as you get into the game, things slowly get more exciting with the likes of Materia mixing up the combat. While Zack can block, dodge and slice his sword around, the ability to equip six Materia truly makes this combat system. You can level these up, combine them for even more power and effects and thanks to the new menu system, pull attacks off much easier than in the original.
The game also brings back the DMW reel. This is an ever-spinning, slot machine-like system on the screen that spins during combat. The spinner then randomly stops on a set of icons and if you’re lucky a set pattern will grant you special effects. I am not a huge fan of the DMW. Wasn’t in the original either. I just don’t get the point of it. It creates a sort of unbalance in combat where you rely on “luck” instead of on how well-trained Zack is in his abilities and skills.
Sure, the DMW sometimes saved me from death after it stopped on three icons that refilled my health right before the enemy dealt a final blow. However, I would have preferred to be better at combat and die because I wasn’t at a high enough level. It is just so random and obscure.
The DMW also gets in the way during the best times. I would be ready to pull off a cool move only to have my screen change into a cutscene for a few seconds. This completely pulled me out of combat. A small issue but an issue nonetheless.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion has also brought back some nasty grinding issues from the original game too. For example, there are so many random battles. Too many. I often could not take more than ten steps without a battle starting. There are also a lot of mindless side missions which get in the way of the experience. Often there would be an hour or two of side missions padded into the main story and I would start watching stuff on Netflix on my iPad to keep myself occupied. They aren’t fun at all.
I can’t fault Square Enix for bringing over these strange features and mechanics. I would not be true to the original if they weren’t there. I just think there should have been ways to help improve the general flow of the game here. Perhaps add a disable encounters toggle?
Apart from those issues, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is still very fun and definitely something you shouldn’t overlook if you’re dedicated to the ongoing remake story. It might be a chore to get through at times but the game’s revamped visuals and voice work alone make this a story you don’t want to miss.
This Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion review is based on a PS5 code sent to us by Square Enix. The game is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Switch starting at R1.055.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion Review
Story - 8.5/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Presentation - 7.5/10
Value - 8/10
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion might bring with it some tired missions and mechanics but the revamped visuals make this a story you don’t want to miss.
New visuals look nice
Combat is fun
Side missions are boring
So many battles