FFVII: Breadth and depth

Midgar seems like such a short section of the game now, but I remember thinking that disk one had to close to the end. Of course, this is far from the case. The game doesn’t really get started until disk two, everything else is just setup. This makes booting up the game something of a chore for me, having played it so many times. The fun part of the game, now that I know the story so well, centers around the OCD completionist in me, getting all the master materia, level capping, killing the weapons. This means, of course, I need to slog through many hours of game play just to open up the world enough to get my fix. However, about an hour or so into playing, I found myself delighted both with the depth of characters and with the incredible sense of humor the developers so clearly had.

The sneaky route into the Shinra building is a classic example. It takes more than five minutes to run up the stairs, but the game makes the task bearable with the character dialog. I find this astonishing, given how badly character writing (let alone voice acting) is in more contemporary games.

Sometimes, however, the humor is quieter, almost dry.

flush

There is literally no reason why you should flush the toliet and yet some developer programmed it in. The game is ripe with little, unimportant choices and dialog and this, I suspect, is what really makes the game an absolute delight to play. There are, after all, hundreds of RPGs in the world and the game mechanics are all fundamentally the same—select a skill then select an appropriate target.

This brings to a few complaints my compatriots, Daniel and Gavin have:

Daniel:

And then we have the materia. I’m old school in the sense that I like having characters with set abilities. It makes it easier to pick my party or even to have strategies for fights. But, in FFVII, I have to spend several minutes deciding which character gets what materia. It can be a bit annoying and time consuming, especially once you get weapons with double AP growth.”

Gavin:

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.

I certainly don’t begrudge a man his opinions and tastes, but what frustrates, Daniel, about the game is precisely what I love about it. All of characters are completely customizable and the process of sorting through materia for each battle is the heart of the game’s strategy. You select the materia best for each situation at hand, but you also need to recognize the need to level your materia with a long, more involved, forward-thinking plan for your general play style. Through this process, you begin to also see what characters are best suited for what materia. In other words, the balance between the immediate strategy at hand and thinking forward to later game is what makes the system so fantastic.

Regarding Gavin’s observation, I found that the two-dimensional overworld gave this game a sense of scale and scope that many RPGs wish for, especially before you get your airship. It takes time to get from point A to B and you literally have to fight your way there and then, further, the medieval feeling of Kalm is intentional. This is a podunk town, after all, whose only source of worth (in the grand scheme) is the Mako reactor.

Does any of this sound right or am I crazy?
sound right

Where You At?—I am just about it enter Kalm where the (sort of) real story begins to unfold.

Disc: 1

Location: Kalm

Cloud’s level: 15

Timer: approx. 2:58 (eight or so trips through means I know how to blow through this game)

Read Gavin Craig’s week 3 post

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 3 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

Advertisements
Comments
2 Responses to “FFVII: Breadth and depth”
  1. Gavin Craig says:

    Andrew, I think you’re exactly right about Kalm being intended to be a backwater and a contrast to Midgar. And it’s a good move on the part of the game developers. It introduces some variety, but also makes me want to move forward rather than spending a lot of time in Kalm, which it probably exactly what it should do at this point in the game.

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] my playing time this week was almost a mirror image of Andrew’s from last week. I only got two-and-a-half hours in, and I lost nearly half of […]



%d bloggers like this: