FFVII: “Let’s do this thing.”

This game doesn’t mess around.

You are thrown right into the action. There isn’t a lengthy prologue intro like some other games (*cough* Zelda *cough*). Our hero, Cloud, jumps off a train and starts fights with Shinra guards. Bam. Let’s go.

It reminds of a storytelling technique: “Start the story as late as possible,” also known as in medias res. We don’t need to see Cloud meeting Barret and talking about the plan, nor do we need to see them boarding the train in the first place.

Dropping the player into a fast-paced action scene first thing in the game is a great way to lure them in—what do I do? Where am I going? What will happen next?

Look at the opening of the film The Dark Knight as a comparison:

It starts with the bank robbers breaking into the bank, not with them planning it out or preparing. It sets the tone and allows for character development via their actions within the intense scene (in this case, the Joker’s cunning and ruthlessness).

What do we learn in the opening minutes of Final Fantasy VII?

Barret has no problem blowing up a huge reactor in the middle of a crowded city. Cloud is an elite fighter-for-hire who could care less about Barret’s political and environmental beliefs. Barret is dedicated to his cause and for him, the ends justify the bloody means. Cloud has no qualms against selling his services to such a man. In-tense.

And in 1997 they had no problem using the word “terrorist” in the game. And that’s what Barret is—an eco-terrorist. He’s blowing up mako reactors (which leads to death of innocents) to send a message to Shinra.

What I also liked is that there wasn’t a twenty-minute tutorial on how to play the game before you get to start playing. This is something I’ve noticed more and more in recent games—they show you how to play before you can do anything.

C’mon. I just wanna play.

I decided to keep all of my character names at their defaults, but my follow FFVII blogger Andrew has a great set of naming rules.

The level design of this game still blows me away, and now that I’m older I get some of the visual references. I see a lot of influence from the 1927 film Metropolis in the layout of Midgar, namely the “rich” city above ground with the slums below (as well as the city relying on dangerous machines for power).

Man, I love that I can just hold down the OK button to auto-select FIGHT in battles. It speeds things up considerably.

On Level Building:

I’m the kind of player who will spend a day or so getting into random encounters to level up early in a RPG. Sure, it can be boring at times—but it tends to save me a few headaches later on when I can beat baddies with ease. Plus, it helps pad the wallet and levels up materia faster.

After the reactor explosion, Barret wants to blow up a second. This guy is nuts. But, he is also a devoted father, which we learn post-explosion back in the slums. He’s one complex dude.

We also meet the first part of Cloud’s eventual love triangle, Tifa.

Oh, Tifa. A badass fighter woman with uh. . . ”huge tracks of land.” What more could a sixteen-year-old boy hope for in a video game in the 1990s?

Before heading out for the second terrorist attack, I did a bit of level-building in the train grave yard. I also earned enough gil to equip each of my characters (Cloud, Barret and Tifa) with Restore materia. I’ve played way more Final Fantasy games since I last played VII, so I know that being able to heal is a good thing.

After the second reactor explosion, we meet the rest of the love triangle, Aeris. Two women fighting over Cloud? This was like crack to a sixteen-year-old boy, I tell ya. Years later, it still makes for great story telling.

I forgot how much I loved the music for this game too.

Read Gavin Craig’s week 2 post

Read Andrew Simone’s week 2 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

5 Responses to “FFVII: “Let’s do this thing.””
  1. Gavin Craig says:

    Does it throw you that the “confirm/action” and “cancel” buttons are the reverse of the otherwise fairly standard PS2 assignments? (O for “confirm/action” and X for “cancel” in FFVII – IX, and X for “confirm/action” and O for “cancel” in FFX and beyond.) It still throws me, especially as I have to use the PS3 system controls to quit a play session on my machine.

    My theory, of course, is that SquareSoft was still using the default Nintendo controls as O would have been the A button, which was the “confirm/action” on the SNES versions of FFII (IV) and III (VI) and X would have been the B button. So it all would have been natural to anyone who had played the SNES Final Fantasy releases, it just feels odd to me moving backwards from FFX. :-)

    • Daniel says:

      It might be the opposite from what the FFIV controls are on my DSi, because I seem to remember stumbling around the controls a bit when I first dusted the game off.

      There were a lot of things I loved about FFX, but looking back, I don’t have as many fond memories of the story and characters like I do for FFIV, FFVI and FFVII.

  2. To be honest, I don’t think it’s worth grinding levels until later game since the best places for materia AP are on a small island. I always thought one of the nicer bits about FFVII was a balanced and logical leveling system. It wasn’t really until later, for the completionist, that level grinding was required. That said, a little early level grinding couldn’t hurt.

    • Daniel says:

      Yeah, I agree–there are much better places to grind later on, heck even after you finally get out of Midgar and start wandering around. Likewise, there are some places that are *terrible* for level building, like the areas outside Costa Del Sol.

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  1. […] was a series of thoroughly enjoyable and insightful posts about how the game has aged (Daniel: “Two women fighting over Cloud? This was like crack to a sixteen-year-old boy, I tell ya. Year…), how it should be played (see Andrew’s character and materia management piece), and […]

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