For years, fans dreamed of a day when they’d see one of the most popular Japanese RPGs ever made make its triumphant return for a new generation. A few years back, Square Enix made it clear that Final Fantasy VII was being remade from the ground up. Just last month, Square was able to provide a more in-depth presentation of the game we’re going to get our hands on next Spring. In case you missed it, the excited reactions and hype seem fairly unanimous across the field from everything that was shown. One thing we did learn was that this remake is not simply going to be the same game with a shiny graphical upgrade. The game will certainly be modernized for a new generation in more ways than one potentially enabling it to surpass the original in appeal.
10 Visual fidelity
Alright, let’s get the easy one out of the way first. It’s also the most obvious reason that the remake will be better than the original. The Final Fantasy VII remake looks absolutely gorgeous. It’s retained the aesthetic of the world and characters that we know while making them suitable for their new high-resolution appearances. However, one cannot talk about how incredible the new game looks without mentioning how the original’s visual style has aged rather poorly. Certain games, like those from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, have a character to their design that makes them timeless. These kinds of retro games are still being played today. But the blocky and 3D models of the characters in the original on top of a fuzzy pre-rendered backdrop is simply an eyesore no matter how you might feel about the game itself.
9 Voice acting
It’s easy to take it for granted in a world where voice acting in blockbuster video games and CGI fantasy films are the norm. But in 1997, solid voice acting was harder to come by. For a game as large as Final Fantasy VII, it was also far more complicated than the production budget would probably allow. The gaming industry has come a long way since then. Think about it. Now, players can avoid clicking through countless dialogue boxes. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful cinematics with real actors bringing these characters to life.
8 Real-time action
This one might boil down to a preference between real-time action and turn-based play. But these days, players live in a new era of RPG games with titles like Borderlands or Mass Effect that allow the player to take the action into their own hands while still leveling and customizing their characters the way they see fit. Final Fantasy as a series has already taken this turn with Final Fantasy XV. While strategy is a core function of gameplay in most games, including RPGs, that very function is expanded when removing the strings of turn-based play.
7 Expansive campaign
While it may have been hard to initially stomach the idea of this first entry in the remake only taking place in Midgar, that’s just it – this is a full-blown game covering just Midgar! We’re likely to see more detailed story elements, character development, dialogue, and fight sequences in this span of the story than we did during our original jaunt through Midgar in 1997. We can also assume the same for the remainder of the story yet to come in a future installment. What more could a Final Fantasy VII fan want? According to one of the game’s producers, Yoshinori Kitase, the entire campaign that has been limited to Midgar for next Spring’s release will be the length of a traditional ”numbered Final Fantasy game.”
6 Tactical Mode
Alright, so there is an element of turn-based play still in the mix. However, it’s integrated with combat so well that it had to be recognized as a top-tier mechanic. Just like the original experience, players can fill a meter with real-time combat in order to gain a special “limit break” attack or utilize other options such as items and magic.
With the press of a button, the player-controlled action slows down with a bullet-time effect. Players can then select a strategic move to execute on their surrounding enemies. It’s really quite brilliant.
5 Modernized Storytelling
With an expanded campaign comes an expanded narrative. And updating a game over two decades later brings along all the experience and evolution in storytelling we’ve gained over the years. While modern games still include cheesy dialogue and character emotions, it’s nothing compared to the abrasive drama of 90s video games – especially Japanese RPGs. Furthermore, the game is going to add greater depth to each of the characters and their personal stories and building the world of Final Fantasy VII.
4 More character depth
This might go hand-in-hand with better storytelling. But it’s worth noting separately because Final Fantasy games, if anything, are all about the characters. With more room to work within the remake, we’ll come to know Cloud and crew better than we ever have before. Jason Schrier at Kotaku shared his experience stating that, "Jessie had more dialogue in the 30 minutes of footage I saw today than she does in all of Final Fantasy VII on PS1." This level of depth is sure to elevate the story.
3 Multi-character control
In the original Final Fantasy VII, players typically could customize their team with Cloud and two other characters of their choice for the most part. Of course, players selected the actions for all characters in the original. But something about being capable of switching between characters amid live-action combat sounds infinitely more thrilling and strategic. Because of this, players are going to have an even greater attachment to specific characters that suit their needs in the middle of the action.
2 Evasion is within the player’s control
In a turn-based RPG, one thing is certain: player characters will take damage during a fight. Options are available to increase the odds for characters to evade an attack. However, evasion was just that – a chance. When players control the action, however, evasion is all about control.
Not many of us have had our hands on a demo for the upcoming remake. So, how smoothly everything operates remains to be seen. Still, players are no longer bound by chance.
1 Richer soundtrack
Final Fantasy VII’s soundtrack is iconic. However, with the space afforded on modern hardware, we are treated to the sounds of grand orchestral performances. The Final Fantasy VII remake is a makeover from the ground up. With the footage that we’ve seen, the music we know and love is there. However, it is far more epic than we remember.