Crisis Core is the latest FF7 game, starring Zack, Clouds’ old dead friend (oh crap I spoiled the ending -_-). It goes through the story of how Zack got his start in SOLDIER, how he and Aeris are tied together, and how he came to know Cloud. To say the least, this game has an awesome storyline from beginning to end. It leaves very few things from Final Fantasy 7 unanswered, and it is all acted out very well with many cut scenes thrown in to make everything feel a bit more like you’re playing a movie. (The story has started up a debate with me and a few of my friends as it does fit perfectly into the original game. The question is if this was all planned out from the start, or if it is just filling in plot holes in the original game. What I personally believe is that square had some vague thoughts of this side story but decided not to flesh it out and when pressured into making all these new FF7 games they finally did.)
Who needs a team to take down a summon boss? Not Zack that's for sure.
Graphically, the game only had one hitch with me—when many, MANY lightning bolts and fire blasts went off at one time. It looks very good, not much on the PSP compares with it, though you can tell they purposely made things a little closed in for the limitations of the hardware, but what you see looks great and because they went with a smarter approach, it makes it look better than a lot of PS2 games. There are rarely any dropped frames; it only happens when you have about 6 enemies are casting spells at the same time. The menus work but it’s a bit lack luster, they may have been going for the nostalgia feel but some things are better left in the past.
Now the most controversial topic is how the game plays, as some are going to love it and some will hate it. The (crisis) core of the game is basically Kingdom Hearts with no party (Zack doesn’t need people, other people helping you battle is for pansies)—an action RPG with a lot of beat-‘em-up aspects. This is a big factor for if you’re going to like the game or not. If you like Kingdom Hearts it’s great and even has more challenge than KH did. If you don’t like KH’s gameplay, you most likely are going to be turned off by this game because it can just turn into repeatedly pressing the attack button until everything is dead.
The main story of the game can be beaten in about six to eight hours if you’re not doing the missions, which for those of you that just want the amazing story, but can’t stand how it’s not the normal RPG you want, then that would be the route you would take. Take note that you might want to rent this game instead of buying it. For people that like the gameplay you’ll want to do the missions as this makes up 90% of the time/challenge in the game, or if you just don’t want to see the inevitable ending, hoping that if Zack doesn’t die, it’ll change history where FF7’s main character will magically turn into Zack while Cloud just sits on the sidelines cutting his wrists like the lame emo kid he is (I.E. me). The missions are fun and take a lot of leveling/tactics/equipment to beat and add some side story to the title.
The next part people may or may not like is the new way they do summons, leveling, and special attacks. This system is called the DMW. The DMW is slots without the fun of money popping out of your PSP every time you hit 777. It’s random with a higher likelihood that you’ll get some attack/power-up, when you think of how fast paced the battle is, it is a smart way to include summons and special attacks that FF games are known for, but on the other hand WHY WOULD YOU PUT LEVELING INTO THIS, SQUARE? This would be my biggest gripe for the entire game, though in Square’s defense, the harder the monster you fight, the more likely you will level in the fight. It serves its purpose with how the game is designed. You might not be able to sort out all the summons and special attacks in the middle of the chaos, and it has saved me when I was in a bind quite a few times.
Crisis Core has some good ideas that are not perfected and that is the main reason the innovation this title has is only minimal. The DMW is a nice way to combat the problem of the fast-paced fights, but the leveling should have been left out of it. The gameplay itself is a carbon copy of KH. The mission system is great for on-the-go gaming, but it has been around for a while. Where they really pushed this title was the visuals and experience because those things are like no others on the PSP. However, the shortcomings in this area are what keeps the PSP from getting the AAA title it deserves.
The chaos of Crisis Core
This game can give you a 100+ hour experience when you factor in all the missions to complete, then going back through the game a second time and having to do those missions again for that second time, but the average player that only marginally likes the missions and may only want to play it through once would get 30 to 50 hours depending on which missions you want to do and what items you’re shooting to get. At a 40 dollar price, it is well worth your money.
The bottom line is, if you want the full experience of this game, do the missions—they’re fun, take a lot of thinking like in FF games of old, and are great for on-the-go gaming. With the story and the presentation of this game, it is a full blown experience you would expect from major console games but it’s on-the-go, and that’s a rare thing. Any FF7 fan should pick this game up for the story if nothing else. Overall, I enjoyed the game a lot. I think many people would as it has ranging difficulty (though sometimes the difficult curve can be extreme), a great story, beautiful graphics, and solid controls and gameplay. This is the best FF game Square has made since FF9 in my honest opinion. It’s like Stella’s got her groove back… I mean Square’s got their groove back. With games like this and The World Ends With You, Square looks more like their old selves and hopefully that will continue into their upcoming projects.