FFVII: It is finished
Well, sort of. Real men, as a friend quipped, kill Emerald Weapon, not Sephiroth, for old time’s sake. And, I suppose, he’s right, considering how easy it is to bear Sephiroth, but it doesn’t make me any less happy to be done with the game. Don’t here what I am not saying, I love FFVII but years later the flaws it has (and there are many) are more glaring at the age of thirty-one. I’ve complained a bit about the puerility of some of the characters, so I’ll spare you this time around (and it was written for teenagers, to be fair). There are a few of us, understandably who find the materia and character management cumbersome, but that is sort of a JRPG thing to do. Also, the last cutscenes don’t have any voice acting which, considering the grandness of them (for the time), seems off-putting. It’s almost as if they ran out of budget or were just in a rush. Then again, maybe modern games just have me spoiled.
Lastly, and I don’t think anybody has mentioned this, it doesn’t pass the beer and pizza test. Simply put, YOU HAVE TO PRESS A BUTTON TO RUN. The moment I take one hand off the controller progress is slowed. That quick bite to eat or pull from a beer bottle interrupts the flow of the game. This, honestly, was the single most frustrating aspect of the RPG. Obviously, there are game genres, the classic platformer is certainly one of them, where your only recourse is to pause to nibble and quaff, but any game that requires extensive walking, to help suggest the largeness of world, shouldn’t make use more than the controller’s left keypad to move. That’s just simply bad user experience. Period.
All that said, they didn’t cheat us by putting hours of required grinding like so many games do to extend the time of gameplay*. I blazed through the game in about nineteen hours with Cloud at level 68 (and I could have done it faster), using a pretty standard materia layout. With such an easy last boss, the only real cookie they give you is the cut scene and glorious beatdown of Sephiroth at the end.
All the good stuff is really after you’ve completed the game, another whole twenty hours of content (level grinding, chocobo breeding and racing, Weapon killing, Knights-of-the-Round-getting) that was optional. And all of it takes time, effort, and skill which, I suppose, means I may never be a real man.
*This is a NSFW video that illustrates perfectly the cheats developers use to extend gameplay.