Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Final Fantasy VII Remake EGX 2019: wows gamers old and new

Has there ever been a game as eagerly anticipated as Final Fantasy VII Remake? Judging by the queues to play the demo at EGX? We’d say no.

But boy was it worth the wait. Much is still unknown about the game: how long will this first episode be? How long until the follow-up episodes? And what will Cloud look like in drag? Seriously, that first point is very important to us.

Yet this brief glimpse was enough to assure us that yes, Final Fantasy VII Remake is looking just as incredible as we all hoped it would be.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake EGX 2019

Of course, for those of us who remember the original release, there’s a ton of nostalgia here. The new character models look exactly how those little blocks were meant to look; the classic soundtrack has been reorchestrated, and full voice acting (including quips between battles) adds an extra dimension to these people we already know and love.

But the game looks stunning enough to draw in newcomers too. The level of detail is incredible. From the beautiful noir lighting, down to the textures on clothing and individual hairs on Barrett’s chest. Throw in a flashy-but-quick to-pick-up combat system and everything clicks easily into place.

As for the demo, it takes place early on in the game – its first main boss to be exact – and is a small, but great, example of how the game has been reimagined. What was once a fairly simple encounter to get you started has been given a cinematic overhaul, with a lengthy build-up and a much longer health bar.

To set the scene, our hero Cloud has agreed to take on a job with revolutionary group AVALANCHE, led by Barrett to destroy a Mako reactor that’s harnessing the planet’s power. The demo begins as Cloud and Barrett, with a nudge in the right direction from AVALANCHE member Jessie, infiltrate the last area of the reactor.

Battles are no longer random, you can simply run up and start attacking visible enemies in the world around you. Like the graphics, the battle system has also been overhauled, now taking place in real-time instead of turn-based. Characters can attack continuously to build up their ATB gauge which, once filled, abilities like magic, item use, or powerful attacks are selected from a menu as time slows to a crawl.

It’s simple enough, but there are added wrinkles: switching between characters to exploit enemy weaknesses, building up a foe’s stagger meter before unleashing limit break attacks, and summoning giant creatures for assistance – though we sadly didn’t get to see this. 

This all came together in the boss battle against the mechanical Scorpion Sentinel. Beating it requires players to aim their attacks carefully at weak spots, switch between Cloud and Barrett for short and long-range attacks, dodge rapid-fire and hide behind fallen debris for cover. It feels much more active and involved than the menu system of the original, like a more refined version of Final Fantasy XV’s combat that’s hugely satisfying.

The end result is the video game equivalent of playing through the Advent Children film. It’s gorgeous to look at, but it plays just as well too.

March 2020 can’t come soon enough.

Check out the rest of our EGX 2019 coverage by keeping your eyes peeled to Gayming Magazine!

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