Final Fantasy VII

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Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII Box Art.jpg
Developer(s) Square Product Development Division 1
Publisher(s) PlayStation
JP Square

NA SCEA
EU SCEE
INT Square Enix (PSN)
Microsoft Windows
Eidos Interactive
Square Enix (Digital & Steam)

Director(s) Yoshinori Kitase
Producer(s) Hironobu Sakaguchi
Programmer(s) Ken Narita
Artist(s) Yusuke Naora
Writer(s) Kazushige Nojima
Yoshinori Kitase
Composer(s) Nobuo Uematsu
Series Final Fantasy
Platform(s) PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) PlayStation
JP 19970131January 31, 1997

NA 19970907September 7, 1997
PAL 19971117November 17, 1997
NA June 2, 2009 (PSN)
PAL June 4, 2009 (PSN)
International
JP 19971002October 2, 1997
JP April 10, 2009 (PSN)
Microsoft Windows
NA May 31, 1998[1]

EU June 25, 1998[1]
  • WW August 14, 2012 (Digital)
  • WW July 4, 2013 (Steam)
International
  • JP May 16, 2013 (Digital)
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution CD-ROMs (PS)
CD-ROMs (PC)
Download (PSN, Digital, Steam)

Final Fantasy VII (ファイナルファンタジーVII Fainaru Fantajī Sebun?, i.e. Final Fantasy Seven, stylized as FINAL FANTASY VII) is a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) as the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation, in 1998 for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, in 2009 on the PlayStation Network, in 2012 on PC Digital Download, and in 2013 on Steam. The game is the first in the series to use 3D computer graphics, featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds, and was the first game in the main series to be released in Europe.

Final Fantasy VII follows protagonist Cloud Strife, a mercenary who initially joins the eco-terrorist rebel organization AVALANCHE to stop the world-controlling megacorporation Shinra from draining the life of the planet for use as an energy source. As the story progresses, Cloud and his allies become involved in a larger world-threatening conflict, facing off against Sephiroth, the game's main antagonist.

Development of Final Fantasy VII began in 1994. The game was originally intended for release on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but was moved to the Nintendo 64. However, since the Nintendo 64's cartridges lacked the required storage capacity, Square decided to release the game for the CD-ROM based PlayStation instead. Final Fantasy VII was directed by Yoshinori Kitase, written by Kazushige Nojima and Kitase, and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The music was composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu, while the series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was replaced by Tetsuya Nomura.

Helped by a large pre-release promotional campaign, Final Fantasy VII became an immediate critical and commercial success. It has continued to sell solidly—10 million copies were sold by May 2010, making it the best-selling title in the series. Final Fantasy VII was praised for its graphics, gameplay, music and story. Criticism primarily pertained to its English localization. It has retrospectively been acknowledged as the game that popularized the Japanese role-playing video game style outside of its home market, and has frequently ranked highly on various top game lists. The popularity of the title led Square Enix to produce a series of prequels and sequels for different platforms under the collective title Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. A sequel film entitled Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, written by Nojima and produced by Kitase, was also released in 2005.

Gameplay[edit]

As with previous installments of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII consists primarily of three major areas: an overworld map, field maps, and a battle screen. The overworld map is a 3D model, featuring a scaled-down version of the game's fictional world, across which the player travels between the game's locations.[2] As with preceding games in the series, the world map can be traversed by foot, on chocobos and in an airship or sea vessel (in this case, a submarine and a plane used as a boat). It also includes an additional means of transportation—a buggy.[2]

On field maps, characters are directed across realistically scaled environments, consisting of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds which represent locations such as towns or forests.[3] Initially, the player is restricted to the city of Midgar, but as the game progresses the entire world becomes accessible.[2] Progression through the game's storyline is largely developed by way of scripted sequences, although pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes are also used.[4]

Battle system[edit]

Battle gameplay in Final Fantasy VII

The battle screen is a 3D representation of an area, such as a building's interior or an open grassland, in which the player commands the characters in battles against CPU-controlled enemies.[5] While characters are super deformed on maps, the character models are more realistic and normal-scaled in combat.[4] Final Fantasy VII is the first game in the series to have character models with fully rendered polygons, rather than 2D sprites. During battle sequences, the game uses the series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system first featured in Final Fantasy IV. Unlike previous games in the series, which allow 4-5 playable characters to participate in battle, Final Fantasy VII only allows three characters per battle.[6]

Final Fantasy VII's skill system is built around the use of Materia—magical orbs composed of condensed life energy from the planet, that are placed in special slots on weapons and armor, allowing players to customize their party's ability to use magic, summons, and special abilities. However, most magic-based Materia also lowers an equipped character's physical attributes. In addition, certain types of Materia can be combined in a fixed number of ways to enhance their effects or produce other abilities.[7] Summon spells feature in the game, equippable as Materia, with elaborately animated attacks. A modified form of Final Fantasy VI's "Desperation Attacks" appears in Final Fantasy VII as the "Limit Break." Every playable character has a bar that gradually fills up as they suffer damage in battle. When the bar is completely filled, the character is able to unleash his or her Limit Break, a special attack which generally inflicts significantly more damage on enemies than normal attacks, or otherwise aids the party in battle.[4] Unlike Materia, each character has their own unique set of Limit Breaks, which are divided into four levels of strength, although one character, Cait Sith, has only two levels.[8]

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

The game's setting is similar to that of Final Fantasy VI insofar as it is a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction milieu.[9] The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to in the game as "The Planet", but retroactively named "Gaia", is composed of three main land masses. The eastern continent is home to the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the capital city and hosts the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, which operates as the planet's de facto world government. Other locations on the eastern continent are Junon (Shinra's major military base), Fort Condor (a fort with a huge condor covering up a Mako reactor on top of it), a chocobo ranch, and Kalm (a small town inspired by medieval Europe).

The western continent features the Gold Saucer (an amusement park with Corel Prison below), Costa Del Sol (a seaside resort), Gongaga (a small town containing the remains of a destroyed Mako reactor), Nibelheim (a town residing at the base of Mt. Nibel), Rocket Town (the location of Shinra's failed space rocket launch), and Cosmo Canyon. The tribe inhabiting Cosmo Canyon emphasize living in harmony with nature and dedicating themselves to the planet's well-being.[10] Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as the "Study of Planet Life", a lifestyle that encourages deference for nature and teaches that the planet has a life and energy of its own.[10]

Wutai, a village inspired by pre-modern Japan and China, is located on a large island off the western continent. The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated landmass, and its few settlements include Bone Village (an excavation site), Icicle Inn (a ski resort town), the mythical "City of the Ancients", and the Northern Crater, where the game's climax takes place. There are also underwater locations accessible only by submarine; for example, a sunken Shinra plane transporter.

Characters[edit]

The nine main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who claims to be a former 1st Class member of Shinra's SOLDIER unit;[11] Barret Wallace, the leader of the anti-Shinra rebel group AVALANCHE; Tifa Lockhart, a martial artist and a member of AVALANCHE, also a childhood friend of Cloud's; Aerith Gainsborough,[12] a flower merchant who has been pursued by Shinra's special operations unit, the Turks, since childhood;[13] Red XIII, a wise lion-like creature who was experimented on by Shinra scientists; Cait Sith, a fortune-telling robotic cat who rides an animated moogle doll;[14] Cid Highwind, a pilot whose dreams of being the first man in outer space were not realized;[15] Yuffie Kisaragi, a young ninja and a skillful thief; and Vincent Valentine, a former member of Shinra's Turks unit, who was experimented on 30 years prior to the start of the game.[16] The game's main antagonist is Sephiroth, a former member of SOLDIER who reappears several years after he was thought dead.[17]

Story[edit]

The game begins with Cloud Strife, working as a mercenary for hire, helping the eco terrorist group AVALANCHE in a raid against the Mako reactors surrounding the Shinra-governed city of Midgar. Barret, the group's leader, believes the Mako energy the reactors consume to be the planet's lifeblood, and Shinra's reactors are killing the planet. Cloud's childhood friend, Tifa, is also in the group. Although the first mission is successful, AVALANCHE is ambushed at the next reactor during a subsequent raid. When the reactor explodes, Cloud drops down into Midgar's slums. He is found by Aerith (aka Aeris), a girl he briefly met selling flowers after his first mission with AVALANCHE.[18] Prompted by the arrival of the Turks, who have been sent to capture Aerith, Cloud agrees to act as her bodyguard and defends her from their assault.[19] Meanwhile, Shinra learns the location of AVALANCHE's hideout in Sector 7, and subsequently destroys it by dropping the upper plate of Sector 7 onto the slums, killing its population.[20] The Turks also capture Aerith, who is revealed to be the last surviving "Cetra", an ancient near-dead tribe closely attuned with the planet.[21] President Shinra and Professor Hojo believe Aerith is the key to finding the "Promised Land", a mythical land of fertility they see as an abundant source of Mako.[22] The remaining AVALANCHE members - Cloud, Barret and Tifa - infiltrate Shinra to rescue Aerith, in the process encountering a specimen simply labeled "Jenova". Joined by Red XIII, a sentient tiger-like creature on whom Hojo had been conducting experiments, the party rescues Aerith, but is captured by the Turks while trying to escape and detained within the building. In the morning, they find their cells open and most of the personnel, including President Shinra, killed: the perpetrator appears to be Sephiroth, a legendary SOLDIER leader who was presumed dead several years ago.The group discovers that the Jenova specimen is also missing,[23] presumed stolen by Sephiroth.

Sephiroth killing Aerith. The scene was referred to by GameSpot as "the most shocking moment in video games."[24]

While the president's son, Rufus Shinra, assumes control of the company, the party leaves Midgar and pursues Sephiroth across the planet. They are joined by Cait Sith, a cat-robot secretly controlled by repentant Turk Reeve Tuesti;[25] Yuffie Kisaragi, a teenage ninja from Wutai; Vincent Valentine, a former Turk; and Cid Highwind, a chain-smoking pilot. At a Cetra temple, the party encounters Sephiroth, who reveals his plan: if the world is significantly damaged, the Lifestream, made of pure Mako energy, will gather in an attempt to heal the wound. Sephiroth intends to use the legendary Black Materia to cast a spell called "Meteor" to cause a massive injury, enabling him to merge with the planet's Mako energy and be reborn as a god.[26] The party drives off Sephiroth, acquiring the Black Materia, but Sephiroth manipulates Cloud into giving him the Materia. While the party recovers from the encounter, Aerith sets off to stop Sephiroth on her own, following him to an ancient Cetra city. The party follows, and finds Aerith praying to the planet for aid. Just as they reach her, Sephiroth kills her. Cloud and his allies track Sephiroth to the North Crater. During their journey, they find out that Jenova is an interstellar creature who crashed on the planet roughly two thousand years ago, intent on taking over completely.[27] Attempting to defend itself, the planet created giant monsters called Weapons. While most humans fled, the Cetra managed to defeat Jenova and entomb its remains.[28] A few decades before the present, the remains of Jenova were unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for Shinra. Mistaking Jenova for a Cetra, Gast attempted to clone Jenova, assisted by Hojo. Even though Gast abandoned the project, Hojo successfully managed to use his assistant's unborn child for the experiment: the baby was Sephiroth.[29] Approximately five years before the present day, while on a Shinra mission with Cloud to Cloud's and Tifa's hometown of Nibelheim, Sephiroth encountered Hojo's failed test subjects and learned of his origins. Mistakenly believing that Jenova and he were Cetra, he was driven insane and destroyed Nibelheim as an act of vengeance on the normal human population. Cloud and Tifa confronted Sephiroth during the massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished, presumed dead until his reappearance in the present day.

When the party reaches the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth for killing Aerith, they learn that Sephiroth was one of multiple Jenova clones that Hojo had created from both animals and humans. Upon reaching Sephiroth, who has been killing and absorbing the Jenova clones to instigate a "Reunion" of Jenova's cells, he manipulates Cloud into helping him cast Meteor, then states that Cloud is one of Sephiroth's clones, showing him memories of the Nibelheim incident with a black-haired SOLDIER in Cloud's place.[30] The summoning of Meteor activates the planet's Weapons, and during the subsequent earthquake, Cloud is separated from his companions and falls into the Lifestream. The rest of the party and the Turks that had followed them to the Crater escape on the airship, the Highwind, where the party members are placed under arrest. As Meteor approaches the planet, the Weapons turn on humanity in an attempt to return as much Mako energy to the Lifestream as possible to aid the planet. Shinra focuses its efforts on protecting humanity from the Weapons and attempting to destroy Meteor directly, which eventually costs the lives of the majority of Shinra's personnel.[31] Tifa, Barret and the others are sentenced to be executed, but escape.[32] They find a catatonic Cloud at a hospital in a tropical resort, where he washed up following the events at the North Crater. Tifa stays behind to help Cloud recover, while the rest of the party continue their fight against Shinra. An attack by the Weapons destroys the island, and Cloud and Tifa both fall into the Lifestream. There, Tifa helps Cloud reconstruct his memories and learns the truth about his past.

It is revealed that Cloud was not accepted into SOLDIER, and that the SOLDIER in Sephiroth's visions was Aerith's first love and Cloud's friend, Zack Fair. The two were present during the Nibelheim incident, with Cloud managing to fatally wound Sephiroth, who only survived through Jenova's cells: Zack and Cloud were severely wounded and later taken and used by Hojo to perfect his SOLDIER and Jenova experiments. Zack tried escaping with Cloud but was killed by Shinra soldiers. Cloud recovered, took Zack's sword and made his way to Midgar: Cloud's own aspirations to SOLDIER and Zack's memories and stories combined, with the help of the Jenova treatment, to create a false personality.[27] Realizing and accepting his past, Cloud is able to recover. After Cloud and Tifa emerge from the Lifestream, the party regroup and learn that Aerith, in her final moments, was attempting to use the White Materia to cast the spell "Holy", the only means of opposing Meteor. It turns out she was successful in casting the spell, but Sephiroth has been preventing its release. The group decide to first stop the rampage of the Weapons. Alongside this, the party confront Hojo, revealed to be Sephiroth's father,[29] as the scientist attempts to aid his son by feeding Mako energy to him. After mutating himself with Jenova cells, he is killed in combat. After this, they launch their final assault on Sephiroth, who is defeated by Cloud after a series of battles. The party escapes from the crater as Holy is released. Holy attempts to block Meteor under Midgar, but Meteor has drawn too close for Holy to combat it alone. Just before Meteor's impact, the Lifestream rises from the planet to aid Holy in destroying Meteor.[33] Five hundred years later, Red XIII is seen with two cubs looking out over the ruins of Midgar, which are now covered in greenery, showing the planet has healed.

Development[edit]

Planning sessions for Final Fantasy VII began in 1994 after the release of Final Fantasy VI. At the time, the game was intended to be another 2D project for the Super Nintendo.[34] Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi originally planned for the story to take place in New York in the year 1999, and as such, the original script of Final Fantasy VII, which was written by Sakaguchi, was completely different from the finished product. Tetsuya Nomura recalled how Sakaguchi "wanted to do something like a detective story." The first part of the story involved a "hot blooded" character named "Detective Joe" who was in pursuit of the main characters, after they had blown up the city of Midgar, which had already been developed for the story.[35] The final scenario was written by Kazushige Nojima and Yoshinori Kitase, based on the story by Sakaguchi and Nomura.[36] Masato Kato was brought into the project later and wrote three scenes for the game.[37]

However, several of the staff members were working in parallel on Chrono Trigger, and development for Final Fantasy VII was interrupted when the other project became significant enough to require the help of Kitase and other designers. Some of the ideas originally considered for Final Fantasy VII ultimately ended up in Chrono Trigger instead. Other ideas, such as the New York setting and the sorceress character Edea, were kept unused until the later projects Parasite Eve and Final Fantasy VIII respectively.[38]

Development resumed in late 1995,[39] and required the efforts of approximately 120 artists and programmers, using PowerAnimator and Softimage 3D software.[40] It was the most expensive video game of its time, with a budget of around US$45 million,[41] equivalent to $64 million in 2012.[42] Kitase was concerned the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D graphics being used in other games,[43] and production began after the completion of a short, experimental tech demo called Final Fantasy SGI for Silicon Graphics' Onyx workstations. The demo featured polygon-based 3D renderings of characters from Final Fantasy VI in a real time battle.[44] This experiment led the development team to integrate these design mechanics into Final Fantasy VII. However, as a result of the high quantity of memory storage required to implement the motion data, only the CD-ROM format would suit the project's needs.[39] Nintendo, for whom Square had developed previous titles in the Final Fantasy series, had decided to continue to use cartridges for its upcoming Nintendo 64 console. This eventually led to a dispute that resulted in Square ending its relationship with Nintendo. Instead, they announced on January 12, 1996 that they would be developing Final Fantasy VII exclusively for Sony's PlayStation console.[45]

Design[edit]

For the first time since working on Final Fantasy on the Famicom, Sakaguchi made the gameplay systems a priority over the story, as the team's main concern during the development of the game was how to implement the 3D.[46] The transition from 2D graphics to 3D environments overlaid on pre-rendered backgrounds was accompanied by a focus on a more realistic presentation. While the extra storage capacity and computer graphics gave the team the means to implement more than 40 minutes of full motion video (FMV) movies, this innovation brought with it the added difficulty of ensuring that the inferiority of the in-game graphics in comparison to the FMV sequences was not too obvious. Kitase has described the process of making the in-game environments as detailed as possible to be "a daunting task."[39] The series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was opening art workshops and exhibitions in France and New York, which limited his involvement in the game. As a result, Tetsuya Nomura was appointed as the project's character designer, while Amano aided in the design of the game's world map.[4]

Several of Nomura's designs changed during development from their initial conceptions. For example, Cloud's original design of slicked-back black hair with no spikes was intended to serve as a contrast to Sephiroth's long, flowing silver hair. Nomura feared, however, that such masculinity could prove unpopular with fans, and therefore he changed Cloud's design to feature a shock of spiky, bright blond hair. Vincent changed from researcher to detective to chemist, and finally to the figure of a former Turk with a tragic past. Nomura has indicated that Cid Highwind's fighting style resembles that of a Dragoon Knight, a character class which was chosen because his last name is the same as that of two previous Dragoon Knights featured in the Final Fantasy series, Ricard Highwind of Final Fantasy II and Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV.[4]

Music[edit]

The music for Final Fantasy VII was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Instead of recorded music and sound effects for the game, Uematsu opted for sequenced PlayStation format audio (similar to MIDI), using the PlayStation's internal sound chip.[4] Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to include a track with digitized vocals; specifically in "One-Winged Angel", which has been described as Uematsu's "most recognizable contribution" to the music of the Final Fantasy series.[47] Uematsu has said the soundtrack has a feel of "realism", which prevented him from using "exorbitant, crazy music."[48]

In early August 1996, a demonstration disc called "Square's Preview" was released in Japan as a bonus pack-in with the PlayStation game Tobal No. 1.[49] The disc contained the earliest playable demo of Final Fantasy VII and previews of other upcoming games such as Bushido Blade and SaGa Frontier. The demo allowed players to play through the first part of Midgar. However, there were some noticeable differences from the final version, namely that Aerith was featured in the initial party and the ability to use Summons had not yet been implemented.[50]

Release[edit]

The game's release in North America was preceded by a massive three-month marketing campaign, which consisted of three 30-second television commercials on major networks, a one-minute long theatrical commercial, a holiday promotion with Pepsi, and printed ads in publications such as Rolling Stone, Details, Spin, Playboy and comic books published by Marvel and DC Comics.[51] Several additions to gameplay and story were made for the game's North American release, such as easier exchange of materia, arrows highlighting exits on field screens,[3] and an extra cutscene, prompting a re-release in Japan under the title Final Fantasy VII International.[52] On December 18, 2012 this version was re-released as part of the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box Japanese package.[53]

In 1998, Final Fantasy VII was ported to Windows-based PCs. This re-release featured smoother graphics, and also fixed translation and spelling errors, as well as gameplay-related glitches. However, the PC version suffered from its own bugs, including errors in the display of some FMVs when rendering in hardware mode on certain graphics chipsets.[54] Since the original PC release of the game, fans have created hundreds of mods for the PC version of the game. The most prominent community being the Qhimm.com forum community, featuring various mods including game patches (for better compatibility with modern Windows and graphics cards), PC-PS save game converter, save game editor, game trainers, character models, world map, cutscenes, music, and battle stages.[55]

In addition to the PlayStation and PC releases, the game was released onto the PlayStation Network in Japan on April 10, 2009, in North America on June 2, 2009, and in Europe and Australia on June 4, 2009. The Japanese release is the International version.[56] The PSN release of the game was downloaded 100,000 times during its first two weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation game on the PlayStation Network.[57]

Video Games Live rendition of the game's "One Winged Angel" in 2009

On July 4, 2012, Square Enix revealed that a PC re-release was forthcoming. It was subsequently released on August 14. The game features 36 new achievements to be unlocked, "Cloud Saves", and a "Character Booster" feature. This remasterization for modern PCs was developed by DotEmu[58] and is available exclusively via the Square Enix store. The game can be played at Full HD (1920x1080) resolution, but does not feature revamped graphics.[59] The release is primarily aimed to port the classic game into a downloadable game to be run on modern Windows OSs (XP/Vista/7) and DirectX 9.0c.[60]

On July 4, 2013, the game was released on the Steam digital distribution platform for Windows PCs.[61]

Soundtrack[edit]

The game's soundtrack was released on four CDs.[62] A single-disc album of selected tracks from the Original Soundtrack and three arranged tracks, entitled Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, was released separately.[63] Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII, a piano arrangement of selected tracks, was released in 2003.[64] Several tracks from the game have been remixed in subsequent Square productions, including Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,[65] Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts.[66] In 2012, music from the soundtrack entered the Classic FM Hall of Fame at number 16.[67]

Reception[edit]

Initial reception and sales[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings PS: 92.35%[68]
PC: 86.30%[69]
Metacritic PS: 92/100[70]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A+[71]
Allgame PS: 5/5 stars[72]
PC: 4.5/5 stars[73]
Edge 9/10[74]
Famitsu 38/40[75]
GameFan 100+/100[78]
GamePro PS: 5/5 stars[76]
PC: 4.5/5 stars[77]
GameSpot PS: 9.5/10[3]
PC: 8.0/10[79]
IGN PS: 9.5/10[6]
PC: 8.2/10[80]
Official PlayStation Magazine (US) 5/5 stars[81]
PC Gamer US 90%[83]
PlayStation Magazine 5/5 stars[82]
Computer Gaming World 4/5 stars[84]
Computer Games Magazine 4/5 stars[85]

Final Fantasy VII was both a critical and commercial success, and set several sales records. Within three days of its release in Japan, the game had sold 2.3 million copies.[4] This popularity inspired thousands of retailers in North America to break street dates in September to meet public demand for the title.[86] In the game's debut weekend in North America, it sold 330,000 copies,[87] and had reached sales of 500,000 units in less than three weeks.[88] The momentum established in the game's opening weeks continued for several months; Sony announced the game had sold one million copies in North America by early December,[89] prompting business analyst Edward Williams from Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. to comment, "Sony redefined the role-playing game (RPG) category and expanded the conventional audience with the launch of Final Fantasy VII."[89] As of December 25, 2005, the game had sold over 9.8 million copies worldwide,[90] making it the highest-selling game in the Final Fantasy series.[91] Final Fantasy VII is credited as "the game that sold the PlayStation," as well as allowing role-playing games to find a place in markets outside Japan. As of May 2010, it had sold 10 million copies worldwide,[92] making it the most popular title in the series in terms of units sold.[93][94][95][96]

Upon release, the game received widespread acclaim from critics. It was referred to by GameFan as "quite possibly the greatest game ever made," a quote which continues to feature prominently on the back cover of the game's jewel case.[97] GameSpot commented that "never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII," expressing particular favor toward the game's graphics, audio, and story.[3] IGN's Jay Boor insisted the game's graphics were "light years beyond anything ever seen on the PlayStation," and regarded its battle system as its strongest point.[6] RPGamer praised the game's soundtrack both in variety and sheer volume, stating that "Uematsu has done his work exceptionally well" and "is perhaps at his best here."[98]

Reviewers also praised the game's Windows conversion, but criticized it for its lower-quality pre-rendered visuals and audio, and for its framerate and installation problems.[83][84][99] Computer Games Magazine said that "[no] game in recent memory" had such a "tendency to fail to work in any capacity on multiple [computers]."[85] Computer Gaming World complained that the "music, while beautifully composed, is butchered by being dependent on your sound card,"[84] and Next Generation Magazine found the game's pre-rendered backgrounds significantly less impressive than those of the PlayStation version.[99] However, the latter magazine found the higher-resolution battle visuals "absolutely stunning,"[99] and Computer Games Magazine said that they "[show] off the power of [a] PC equipped with a 3D card."[85] All three magazines concluded by praising the game despite its technical flaws,[84][85][99] and PC Gamer summarized that, while "Square apparently did only what was required to get its PlayStation game running under Windows," Final Fantasy VII is "still a winner on the PC."[83]

Final Fantasy VII has received some negative criticism as well. Square's announcement that it would be produced for Sony rather than Nintendo and that it would not be based on the Final Fantasy SGI demo was met with discontent among some gamers.[44][45] Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (OPM) and GameSpot questioned the game's highly linear progression.[3][81] OPM considered the game's translation "a bit muddy" and felt the summon animations were "repetitive."[81] RPGamer cited its translation as "packed with typos and other errors which further obscure what is already a very confusing plot."[100] GamePro also considered the Japanese-to-English translation a significant weakness in the game,[54] and IGN regarded the ability to use only three characters at a time as "the game's only shortcoming."[6]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Final Fantasy VII was given numerous Game of the Year awards in 1997. It won in the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' first annual Interactive Achievement Awards in the categories "Console Adventure Game of the Year" and "Console Role Playing Game of the Year" (it was also nominated in the categories "Interactive Title of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics" and "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design").[101] In the Origins Award, it won in the category "Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1997."[102] It was also awarded the "Readers' Choice All Systems Game of the Year", "Readers' Choice PlayStation Game of the Year" and "Readers' Choice Role-Playing Game of the Year" by EGM.[103]

Since 1997, it has been selected by many game magazines as one of the top video games of all time, including as 91st in EGM's 2001 "100 Best Games of All Time",[104] and as fourth in Retro Gamer's "Top 100 Games" in 2004.[105] In 2005, it was ranked as 88th in IGN's "Top 100 Games of All Time"[106] and as third in PALGN's "The Greatest 100 Games Ever".[107] Final Fantasy VII was included in the "The Greatest Games of All Time" list by GameSpot in 2006,[24] and ranked as second in Empire's 2006 "100 Greatest Games of All Time",[108] as third in Stuff's "100 Greatest Games" in 2008[109] and as 15th in Game Informer's 2009 "Top 200 Games of All Time" (down five places from its previous best games of all time list[110]).[111] GameSpot placed it at the top of its list of the most influential games ever made in 2001, and as second in 2002;[112][113] in 2007, GamePro ranked it 14th on the list of the most important games of all time, and in 2009 it finished in the same place on their list of the most innovative games of all time.[114][115] In 2012, Time named it one of "All-TIME 100 Video Games".[116]

It has also appeared in numerous other greatest game lists. In 2007, Dengeki PlayStation gave it the "Best Story", "Best RPG" and "Best Overall Game" retrospective awards for games on the original PlayStation.[117] GamePro named it the best RPG title of all time in 2008,[118] and featured it in their 2010 article "The 30 Best PSN Games."[119] In 2012, GamesRadar also ranked it as the sixth saddest game ever.[120] On the other hand, GameSpy ranked it seventh on their 2003 list of the most overrated games[121] (in 2011, Destructoid argued "why Final Fantasy VII is not overrated"[122]).

Final Fantasy VII has often placed at or near the top of many reader polls of all-time best games. It was voted the "Reader's Choice Game of the Century" in an IGN poll in 2000[123] and placed second in the "Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time" by Japanese magazine Famitsu in 2006 (it was also voted as ninth in Famitsu's 2011 poll of most tear-inducing games of all time).[124][125] Users of GameFAQs voted it the "Best Game Ever" in 2004 and in 2005,[126][127] and placed it second in 2009.[128] In 2008, readers of Dengeki magazine voted it the best game ever made,[129] as well as the ninth most tear-inducing game of all time.[130]

Legacy[edit]

In addition to the PlayStation and PC releases, the game was released onto the PlayStation Network in Japan on April 10, 2009, in North America on June 2, 2009, and in Europe and Australia on June 4, 2009. The Japanese release is the International version.[56] The PSN release of the game was downloaded 100,000 times during its first two weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation game on the PlayStation Network.[57] The game has also inspired an unofficial version for the NES by Chinese company Shenzhen Nanjing Technology.[131] This port features the Final Fantasy VII game scaled back to 2D, with some of the side quests removed.[131]

The game's popularity and open-ended nature also led director Kitase and scenario writer Nojima to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2. The character Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2 proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from within the planet Spira. Nojima has stated that Shinra and his proposal are a deliberate nod to the Shinra Company, and that he envisioned the events of Final Fantasy X-2 as a prequel to those in Final Fantasy VII.[132] The FMV sequences and computer graphics used in Final Fantasy VII allowed Sakaguchi to begin production on the first Final Fantasy film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.[133] The game also introduced settings suffused with modern-to-advanced technology into the Final Fantasy series, a theme continued by Final Fantasy VIII and The Spirits Within.[134][135] Re-releases of Square games in Japan with bonus features would occur frequently after the release of Final Fantasy VII International. Later titles that would be re-released as international versions include Final Fantasy X (as "International"),[136] Final Fantasy X-2 (as "International + Last Mission"),[137] Kingdom Hearts (as "Final Mix"),[138] Kingdom Hearts II (as "Final Mix"),[139] and Final Fantasy XII (as "International Zodiac Job System").[140]

Several characters from Final Fantasy VII have also made cameo appearances in other Square Enix titles, most notably the fighting game Ehrgeiz and the popular Final Fantasy-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts. Additionally, fighting video game Dissidia Final Fantasy includes Final Fantasy VII characters such as Cloud and Sephiroth, and allows players to fight with characters from throughout the Final Fantasy series, and its follow-up, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, included Tifa as well. Aerith's death in the game has often been referred as one of the most emotional moments from any video game,[24][141][142] while Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history.[143][144]

Related media and merchandise[edit]

Compilation of Final Fantasy VII is the formal title for a series of games, animated features and short stories based in the world of Final Fantasy VII. The series consists of several titles across various platforms, all of which are extensions of the original story.[145] The first title in the Compilation is the mobile game Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, a prequel focusing on the Turks' activities six years prior to the original game, including their first encounter with AVALANCHE.[146] The CGI film sequel Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, set two years after the events of the game, was the first title announced in the series, but it was the second to be released. Special DVD editions of the film included Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, an original video animation that recounts the destruction of Nibelheim.[147] Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and its mobile phone counterpart, Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII, are third-person shooters[148] set three years after the events of Final Fantasy VII and one after the events of Advent Children. Dirge focuses on Vincent Valentine, and goes into more detail regarding his backstory than the original Final Fantasy VII. The most recent title is the PlayStation Portable game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, an action role-playing game that revolves around Zack's past.[149] Also included in the Compilation is On the Way to a Smile, a collection of seven short stories written by Kazushige Nojima, and set between the end of Final Fantasy VII and the beginning of Advent Children. Originally only three stories were released: "Case of Barret", "Case of Tifa" and "Case of Denzel", but with the release of Advent Children Complete, four more stories were written; "Case of Nanaki", "Case of Yuffie", "Case of Shinra" and "Case of Lifestream - White & Black".

Releases not under the Compilation label include, Maiden Who Travels the Planet, which follows Aerith's journey in the Lifestream after her death at the hands of Sephiroth, taking place concurrently with the second half of the original game.[150] Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding is a mobile port of the snowboard minigame featured in Final Fantasy VII,[151] which contains different course than the original minigame.[152] The game is downloadable on V Cast-compatible mobile phones, and was first made available in 2005 in Japan and North America.[153]

Possible remake[edit]

With the announcement and development of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, speculation spread that an enhanced remake of the original Final Fantasy VII would be released for the PlayStation 3. This speculation was sparked at the 2005 E3 convention by the release of a video featuring the opening sequence of Final Fantasy VII recreated using the PlayStation 3's graphical capabilities.[154] Further speculation was raised due to thank-you notes for "the Final Fantasy VII PS3 testing team" in the credits of both Advent Children and Crisis Core. However, it was pointed out that the notes could have been aimed at the testers for the PSN release of Final Fantasy VII, or that Advent Children and Crisis Core used graphical assets from the PS3 demo.[155][156] The initial speculation was put to rest when Square Enix president Yoichi Wada explained the presentation was intended only for technological demonstration purposes,[154] and an official statement from the company said that no remake was in development as part of the Compilation.[157]

In 2009, Yoshinori Kitase said at the Games Convention, "As for a VII remake, all I can advise right now is to play the PSN release that has come out for the time being. Maybe we'll have some news for you at a later time. I'm actually working on multiple projects right now, I don't know exactly what new projects I'll be taking on after XIII, but I am working on Final Fantasy Agito XIII, too. Maybe I'll be able to focus a little more on that project once XIII is complete."[158] In January 2010, Tetsuya Nomura said, “Fans are looking forward to an oft rumored remake of FFVII, but I don’t believe this will happen for the time being.”[159] In February 2010, Kitase said that in order to give a PS3 port of Final Fantasy VII a similar quality to Final Fantasy XIII, it "would take as much as three or four times longer than the three and a half years it has taken to put this Final Fantasy together! So it's looking pretty unrealistic to happen!" Kitase also commented that making games with the same style as Final Fantasy VII for the PS3 is very difficult, as it would take the staff too much time to create the graphics; because of this, Final Fantasy XIII is "more linear" than previous titles.[160] In a March 2010 interview, however, Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama stated, "If we had the manpower and the time to work on a project, if we were to remake Final Fantasy VII with the quality of Final Fantasy XIII it would become a tremendous project. If we can get the number of people we need by all means that would be the one I would really want to remake."[161] In March 2010, CEO Yoichi Wada revealed they were exploring the possibility of a remake, following the high demand.[162] However, in June 2012, the company announced that "[we] will only consider this once a brand new game in the franchise exceeds the quality of that found in FF7."[163]

Due to the number of questions GamesRadar received about the game's remake they featured it in their article about the "reasons to hate Final Fantasy", wishing it could be released so that fans would stop asking them about it.[164] GamesRadar also published an article called "The truth about the Final Fantasy VII remake", stating despite the staff's comments they will not produce a remake; interviews from mid-2009 onwards gave gamers hope that it is still possible a remake will be released.[165] In 2011, GameTrailers ranked it second on a list of the games that most needed remakes,[166] whilst Cheat Code Central ranked it fourth on a similar list.[167] In 2011, NowGamer ranked it as number one on the list they would like to be remade.[168] PSU.com ranked it as number one on such lists twice, in 2008 (games to be revived for the PlayStation 3) and in 2011 (PSone classics to be remade).[169][170]

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