Square is definently setting the bar high with its remake of Final Fantasy VII. The newly released demo gives a brief snippet of what to expect when the game releases on April 10 and simply put, it looks and plays fantastic.
Not an understatement.
Outside of the setting and familiar characters, there is little that will remind you of the original release. The traditional turn-based system has been replaced with an active, more action based system that requires the player to actively engage enemies to utilize items, spells, and abilities. As everything is in real-time, you’ll have to be cognizant of your characters health and mana, which can deplete quickly if you’re not attentive.
Building up the active-time battle (ATB) gauge is quick as long as you stay aggressive. Once one of the bars is filled, you can open up your abilities menu which will then slow down time so that you can select the appropriate action. Encounters during the demo were fast-paced and the action itself was fluid and visually appealing.
A new addition that will add depth to the new combat system is the ability to switch styles. For Cloud, this meant going from an Operator, a conservative offensive approach, to a Punisher, an aggressive style that deals more damage and features devastating counterattacks. You can quickly stagger aggressive enemies with the Punisher mode and this is where you can maximize your damage output.
In just a short demo, Final Fantasy VII Remake has left quite the impression. The visuals are incredible, featuring strong character animations and beautiful particle effects. I was enamored by what was happening on the screen. What’s most impressive is that the score has been updated and while it’s hard to improve on perfection, they somehow found a way.
It was difficult to find any real flaws and I suspect that when the final product launches that this will easily be a game of the year contender. Now, the final product may have its flaws, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t a helluva first impression. The Resident Evil remakes have competition, Final Fantasy VII is coming for the crown. If all remakes and remasters could be like these two, then I’m all for it.