Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is an Action-JRPG developed and published by Square Enix, with additional development by Tose Software. It was released on December 13th, 2022, for PC, Xbox, and PS4/5. The original Crisis Core released on the Playstation Portable in 2007, and served as a prequel to “Final Fantasy VII“(1997), just like this new remastered version.
CC comes back to us in a stunning ensemble of new and remastered HD graphics. It’s treatment is similar to what we saw with another PSP original revived several years ago, “Final Fantasy Type-0 HD“. However, it’s more than worth noting that Square Enix went a step further with this release, and gave us what can at times feel like a full-on remake.
CC’s gameplay remains mostly intact, with significant improvements to it’s controls and UI that help it live up to a modern standard. It’s faster and more action-packed than the original. The gameplay of FF7 Remake will immediately come to mind for those who have played it.
The story follows the original version. It gives us a deeper look into the events that come to define icons such as Sephiroth and Cloud. We also learn more about the complex and sinister nature of the Shinra organization.
An outstanding soundtrack now sounds even better with improved instrumentation and audio fidelity. This includes some songs from FF7.
*This review contains spoilers.
What we have here in terms of presentation is nothing short of stellar. Crisis Core’s graphics add new textures to virtually everything in the game. Along with the graphical upgrade, this new version is also faithful to the art direction of the original.
New environmental effects bring enhanced beauty to the areas you visit, with intricate looking fog, snow, soft lighting effects, and more. “Midgar Slums” now sports the polished junkyard textures of FF7 Remake. “Aerith’s Church” benefits from intricate lighting and stone textures, and “Sector 8” has improved shadows, water textures, and color saturation, among other things. In the story missions, from the initial Wutai Fortress to Mako Reactor 5 and the Banora Underground, you’ll see a detailed world, that utilizes the vibrant, ethereal hues present in most FF games with confidence.
CC’s character models look great, for the most part. Many now have more realistic looking hair, body and clothing details. Facial animations also do a decent job at conveying emotion. On the downside, some NPC’s look too simplistic in contrast to the rest of the game. Tifa’s character model is one such example.
Most of the enemies look great. Behemoths look especially cool, as well as the Wutai troops adorned with futuristic-looking Samurai Armor. All of the “Summons” have also been improved visually, and their cut-scenes have been beautifully reimagined. Graphics on most of the robot enemies has also been significantly improved. But some of them could have been retextured better, as they looked like the original models, only upscaled.
The new story cut-scenes are thrilling to watch. They contain some epic battles, scenes of mass destruction, as well as of friendship, love, and loyalty that take place between the main cast members. Oddly enough, a few scenes were directly imported from the original game. They don’t exactly blend in with the rest of the bunch, but they aren’t so distracting as to stop you from enjoying the narrative. All things considered, Crisis Core delivers a spectacular visual experience.
One of the first things you’d notice playing the original Crisis Core is that it’s controls were a bit off the walls. It took time to master an awkward system, but some aspects were forgivable, due to it being a portable title. Things like switching magic spells and using items during battle were annoying as hell sometimes, and could often lead to losing at key moments in the game, such as boss battles. Moving the camera was also quite limited, especially with the PSP having only one pseudo-analog stick.
Thankfully, these issues have all been addressed. You can now assign your magic spells to whatever buttons you choose, instead of having to cycle through several menus for them, like in the original. The camera now moves freely, giving you an edge in battle, and making the game look more cinematic. Combat is also faster and more exciting.
CC’s new battle system is certainly good, but I do find myself wanting for more depth, all things considered. I understand that this is technically as remaster, but it seems like a missed opportunity to give the game more replay value.
CC’s in-game menu also looks better than before, with a cleaner and more intuitive interface. Through this menu you can equip gear, merge Materia (magic orbs) to make new elements, visit different shops, check your email, or the progress of your side missions. Some stores will only unlock after you complete certain objectives.
This FF has a unique feature called the “DMW” meter which is represented by a slot machine on the side of your screen. It stands for “Digital Mind Wave” and tracks Zack’s emotional state in regards to the different people he meets along his adventure. These memories randomly come up in battle. Some of them activate “Summons”, or give Zack special abilities or status perks. It’s a unique feature that can make every battle feel different. It also helps break the monotony if you start level grinding, although it can sometimes get in the way of battle.
Side-missions are accessible from any save point. These missions are pretty simple for the most part, and are a good way to practice your skills, and gather materia or accessories. They range from competitive trials against other Shinra military personnel, to various monster hunts, laboratory and VR missions. The areas are basic and are often reused, but the missions can be entertaining. They were originally designed with the portable experience in mind, so that PSP players could knock out a few missions on their lunch break.
Both boss and mascot “Summons” are still available. Ifrit, Odin, Bahamut, and Phoenix are still your boss Summons. The the six “mascot Summons” also make their return, two of which are “Chocobo” and “Cait Sith”. These abilities can be found after defeating bosses, and through searching the world.
CC also contains a decent amount of combat accessories. Rings, armbands, special clothing, etc. can be found or purchased. Sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to find them. These items give you additional status perks. Some significantly increase your health and magic, or nullify status affects such as poison, sleep or silence, among many other things.
CC’s gameplay is just as hard-hitting as its visuals. Aside from one or two features I’m not too excited about, its the definitive way to play the game.
Crisis Core’s story is fascinating and well written, overall. The characters all have their own unique personality and the narrative takes a poised, poetic stance. It’s a shorter tale than FF VII’s, but there’s enough character development on behalf of the main cast to make it a worthy prequel. Unfortunately, the story can feel a bit tangled at times, especially since it involves the clones of prominent characters. There are also some cut-scenes in which the dialog can come across as a too abstract. That being said, I’m still a big fan of the story, its protagonist, and how it relates to FF VII Remake.
As in some other FF games, most of the characters are young and impressionable, and the decisions they make really come to define their personality, as they learn about duty and sacrifice. Other powerful FF themes explored are that of global oppression and the weaponized use of technology, biotech in particular.
The one constant in the story, outside of our protagonist Zack, is the “Shinra Electric Power Company”. It is an entity that dominates the world through the use of “Mako” energy and militant force. They are currently at war with the last independent nation on the planet, called “Wutai”. The conflict stems from Shinra putting a “Mako Reactor” in an area occupied by Wutai. In recent years Shinra has also excavated the remains of an alien lifeform they call “Jenova”. It crashed into the earth two thousand years ago, and they’ve now begun human experiments, using its DNA.
The story follows Zack Fair, a member of the Shinra army, also part of an elite group called “SOLDIER”. Zack is a “2nd class” member working towards a promotion. He’s still at an impressionable age and wants to be recognized as a hero, like the legendary warrior Sephiroth. Our main story begins when Zack and his mentor Angeal are sent by Director Lazard to support the war effort in Wutai. Zack single handedly takes over a Wutai Fort, under Angeal’s supervision, but in the midst of the battle Angeal goes missing.
Rumors begin to form that Angeal and another SOLDIER member named Genesis have turned against Shinra. Lazard asks Zack and Sephiroth, a SOLDIER 1st class, to find and kill them both. Shortly after, Genesis attacks Shinra HQ with a clone army, after joining forces with a scientist named Dr. Hollander. The clones are subsequently killed by Zack and Sephiroth.
They then track down Dr. Hollander’s laboratory, where they learn that both Genesis and Angeal were experimented on by Shinra. They were part of something called the “G” project, where they were infused with the DNA of the alien being Jenova. Shinra’s goal was to create super-soldiers. Zack confronts Angeal, and Sephiroth goes after Genesis. Zack attempts to kill Dr. Hollander, but Angeal wants him alive to find a cure, so he knocks him down to Midgar Slums.
He’s found passed out in a church by a woman named Aerith. They spend some time together and form a connection, but when duty calls Zack returns to SOLDIER HQ. He finds the facility under attack, and runs into Angeal, who begins to question Genesis’s motives. He helps Zack and Sephiroth protect the HQ, but as he pursues Genesis, they both disappear once again.
They are later spotted near the city of “Modeohiem”. Zack follows them and on his way makes friends with an infantryman by the name of “Cloud Strife”. After sneaking into a Shinra facility near the city, Zack defeats Genesis, and proceeds to find Angeal and Hollander in Modeohiem. He then kills Angeal, who has mutated into a monster. After the fight, he gives Zack the Buster Sword as his legacy. Hollander has escaped.
Genesis later re-emerges, and explains to Sephiroth that he was also part of Shira’s Jenova experiments, and that his cells can prevent Genesis from mutating, due to how they bond with Jenova’s DNA. However, despite his loyalty to Genesis, Sephiroth refuses to help.
Overcome with grief about his true nature and origins, Sephiroth brings catastrophe to the city of Nibelheim, while seeking to release Jenova, who he now sees as his mother. Zack and Cloud stop Sephiroth, but not without accidentally coming in contact with Jenova. Cloud also comes in contact with Sephiroth’s blood, after dealing him a fatal blow. This causes Cloud to take on some of his cells. They are then taken prisoner and kept in stasis at a laboratory inside Shinra Manor, but after some time, Zack awakens and the pair manage to escape.
They continue to be tracked and are found by Shinra operatives just outside Midgar. They now wants to use Cloud’s cells to stop a wounded Genesis from mutating. Zack stops Hollander from getting to Cloud, who is now dying of Mako poisoning. They are then pointed towards the Banora Underground by Director Lazard, who has also turned on Shinra. Zack marches onwards, carrying Cloud, then enters the Banora Underground to face Genesis for the last time. He scours his way through the luminescent caves, and destroys Genesis in a brutal final battle. After the fight, he continues to carry Cloud towards Midgar, but the Shinra army eventually catch up to them.
Zack engages in combat with an incalculable amount of armed soldiers, dealing massive casualties to the opposition. He eventually dies heroically in battle, protecting his friend Cloud. Before his last breath, Zack gives Cloud the Buster Sword.
I’ve broken down most of the basics of the story, but there is only so much I can comment on without going into a full in-depth review. There are certainly more main and supporting cast members and parts to the story than I’ve mentioned here, as well as an interesting plot twist. The story does a good job at conveying emotion, and by the end many will find themselves reaching for a box of tissues.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, has an unforgettable soundtrack, and good sound design overall. What you mostly find on it is a wide range of emotionally-driven Classical music and Electronic Rock. Takeharu Ishimoto produced the soundtrack, with additional songs by Kazuhiko Toyama. It also contains remixes of songs by Nobuo Uematsu, from FFVII.
Ishimoto is an exceptional producer and musician, as you may already know. He also worked on the soundtrack to FF Type-0 and “The Legend of Mana“, among others. He was specifically asked to do this project, and gave the soundtrack new instrumental arrangements, and improved audio fidelity. I found this immediately noticeable. Excellent music is one of the primary reasons I play FF games.
The original CC didn’t have full-on voice acting, but now we have every scene completely voiced with new actors. Both vocals and vocal direction are on point, and it felt unbelievable to hear these classic characters more personified than ever before. I can say that this went above and beyond my expectations.
I think most Final Fantasy fans will really appreciate this new version of Crisis Core. I’d highly recommend it to any PC or console gamers into Action-RPGs. I’d also recommend it to anyone who enjoys a competent fantasy narrative, and is looking to play something that isn’t too long or difficult.
In closing this article, I will say that I really enjoyed my time with this new version of CC, and one of my favorite FF protagonists, the legendary hero, friend, and good Samaritan, Zack Fair!
SCORE: 7.5 out of 10 – Good!
Peace to everyone. Thank you for reading Spirit Game by Howl Blake. I’d love to hear about your experiences or just thoughts about Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion. Drop a comment down below.