FFVII: Back to the map

Daniel, I’m really happy that you posted about the Sector 7 plate collapse this week, as it was one of the two big moments in my gameplay so far. While I agree with you that FFVII’s action starts off strong, the story has some fits and starts in the first few hours. As you noted, it’s fascinating that the game starts off with a eco-terrorist attack—one in which the player character is a primary participant—but the consequences of that event aren’t immediately apparent. There’s some noise that the explosion was bigger than AVALANCHE expected, and that there were some civilian casualties, but life seems to go on pretty much as normal, and other than Barrett ranting about the planet, it’s not really clear why AVALANCHE exists in the first place, or why Cloud is involved (other than a paycheck, and not a great one at that).

And then shit gets real.

It’s striking, especially compared to the casualties from AVALANCHE’s first bomb, which are noted only in quickly forgotten text-only dialog, that FFVII puts the viewer quite close to the people underneath the falling plate. Suddenly Shinra really is a big bad. Like a Kefka-level big bad. They just blew up a chunk of their own town.

There’s rumor that SquareEnix is finally talking seriously about a high-definition PS3 re-release of FFVII, and I would buy it for this scene alone.

The second major event this week is that I’m finally out of Midgar, which is a huge turn in the game, about which I have slightly mixed feelings.

Final Fantasy I On one hand, this turn, where the characters suddenly have a much larger world to explore, is completely in character for the Final Fantasy series, going all the way back to the initial title. Even in an 8-bit, nearly characterless format, the moment when the Warriors of Light have defeated Garland and cross the newly-built bridge that connects the Kingdom of Coneria to the larger continent has a huge impact. The game actually interrupts play to deliver the message that the player’s journey has really just begun. It’s a big contrast to the original Dragon Warrior, in which the player has physical access to most of the world from the very beginning of the game—so long as one survives contact with the monsters one encounters, which are always stronger on the other side of that bridge you’re thinking about crossing.

I’d kind of like to talk about probably my favorite example of this suddenly-expanded world from Final Fantasy III (the real FFIII, released for the first time un the U.S. on the Nintendo DS), but in the interest of space, I’ll settle for saying that I’m happy that I get access to this expanded world after only six of an expected 40+ hours of gameplay, rather than after half or as much as two-thirds of the game, as in Final Fantasy X or XIII. (One can argue whether that “expanded world” moment in FFX comes when the player reaches the Calm Lands for the first time, or when the player is finally given free travel throughout Spira via airship towards the end of the game, neither of which really works the same way as travel via an overworld map in earlier games in the series. [Which could lead to talking about Dragon Warrior VIII, but now I’m really digressing.])

motorbike

This is a man who's trying really hard to be bad-ass, but you know what? It really kind of works.

So why the mixed feelings? On some level I was really enjoying that FFVII felt so different from so many of the Final Fantasy games that I’ve played. FFVI introduces a strong technological component into the series, which FFVII builds upon, but gameplay in Midgar takes place in revolutionary [for the time] three-dimensional environments. And now I’ve just been thrown back into a two-dimensional overworld. On top of that, the first new town the player gets to enter, Kalm feels, well, a bit medieval.

This isn’t a big complaint. After all, my fondness for the Final Fantasy series is such that it’s not really a bad thing that I’ve just been thrown into a very “Final Fantasy” world. It’s just, you know, a bit of an adjustment after a hardcore motorbike fight scene.

Onward!

Where You At?—I just entered the town of Kalm, and I’m getting ready to [finally!] find out some of the dirt on Sephiroth

Disc: 1

Location: Kalm

Cloud’s level: 15

Timer: 6:28

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 3 post

Read Andrew Simone’s week 3 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

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  1. […] that industrial coexisting with the “medieval” quality that I sort-of complained about last week—is an analogy for the coexistence of traditional and industrial cultures in 1930s Japan. And […]



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