FFVII: Now that’s an ending

As promised last week, it’s done. Sephiroth has gone down.

The logistics: I’ve been playing with the final battle party, and while my last go-round might have worked if the game hadn’t frozen up on me, I did things a bit differently this time. Before making my way into the Northern Crater, I stocked up on HP Plus materia. None of the materia could measure up to the near-mastered one Cloud is carrying around, but even an extra 10% makes a difference. Last time I gave each character fighting Bizzaro Sephiroth at least one orb, but this time I maxed out Cloud, Vincent, and Cid, who would go on to battle Safer Sephiroth by themselves.

Also, I didn’t really go overboard on materia. At this point in the game, you don’t have to fill every slot, and you have to balance each material against the HP and strength penalties that most of them inflict. I have mastered fire, ice, lightning, and poison material, and they all stayed on the side, since none of them can really do enough damage to be worth including. The Cloud, Vincent, and Cid party roughly line up with Andrew’s optimum party, with Vincent filling the Yuffie/Tifa role of primary healer, Cloud using haste and double cut (I love that materia), and Cid using barrier and summons. I’m actually pretty light on backup material, but my #2 party were set with Tifa using a second mastered restore materia (absolutely necessary, and somehow I’d forgotten I had one during my first attempt to beat the game), Red XIII using my best enemy skill materia for big guard (haste and wall all at once) and my second best summons, and Barret acting mostly as a big gun.

Even with a moderately-leveled party (Cloud: 61, Vincent: 56, Cid: 60, Barret: 54, Tifa: 56, Red XIII: 52), Jenova SYNTHESIS and Bizarro Sephiroth are really no trouble. I cast the defensive haste/wall/regen combo for both, but Jenova went down using only standard attacks before she even got to the ultima countdown.

Bizzaro Sephiroth has multiple components which can be beaten separately, but defeating the torso defeats the whole thing. Last time through I took down the right and left magics, but I didn’t beat the left core with my secondary party, so the right core wasn’t vulnerable, and I defeated the torso without defeating the core. This time I was more thorough, and defeated each of the individual pieces, making sure to let the head regenerate so that I could kill it as often as possible.

Because according to the Final Fantasy Wiki, each time you kill Bizzaro Sephiroth’s head, Safer Sephiroth’s max HP is reduced by 100. Last time, as I mentioned, the game froze up during Safer Sephiroth’s Super Nova summon. This time, he didn’t even get the chance to cast it.

Even better, I met my week 9 goal, finishing the game with the timer at 42:40, which of course doesn’t count the time involved in the final battles, much less the two failed attempts, but still feels pretty close to the 40 hours I budgeted for the game.

The story: Might I say, holy crap?

As with Aeris’s untimely departure, I was already aware of the broad strokes. Sephiroth’s death releases Holy, but Meteor is already hovering over Midgar, destroying the city. Cait Sith states that he’s had as many people as possible take cover in the slums under the city, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop Meteor.

And then the planet itself comes to life, green filaments of the Lifestream covering the entire planet and taking Meteor apart.

And that’s where the game ends.

Ignoring the increasingly numerous sequels, this is a rather striking finale. A number of characters state during the game that if the planet decides to save itself, it isn’t clear that saving humans will be part of the deal—the various Weapons, which attack human cities when they’re roused by the approach of Meteor, are an embodiment of this possibility.

Which is all to say that at the end of the game, the planet, assisted by Holy, defeats Meteor, but the game doesn’t reveal whether this action leaves a single human survivor. A coda after the credits shows Red XIII and two cubs looking out over the overgrown ruins of Midgar, so it’s clear that life continues, but not necessarily human life.

In fact, I initially forgot all about the mind-bending as to who Cloud is or isn’t, and I’m inclined to ignore sequels like Advent Children and Dirge of Cerebus, which establish that, yes, everyone survives, and Cloud keeps sulking. In all honesty, it feels like a bit of a cop out.

So that’s it. Only 13 years late, I can finally say that I’ve finished Final Fantasy VII. Up until the end it was a solid but not extraordinary entry in the series, but the ending might have pushed it right up close to the top for me. I’ve still spent more time (80+ hours) loving X, which has a somewhat dark ending itself, but it still can’t compare to the possible extinction of humanity. As a happy ending.

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 12 post

Read Andrew Simone’s week 12 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

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