Even amidst the overall Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII stands far above the other games. When it was first released on the PlayStation in 1997, it became one of the most influential games in history. The legacy and popularity of Final Fantasy VII paved the way for several new projects to expand the world of the first game.
A prequel, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, was originally released on the PSP in 2007 and tells the origin story of Zack Fair, the SOLDIER operative whose will is eventually carried on by FFVII protagonist Cloud Strife. Now more than 15 years later, Crisis Core is being re-released as Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion. The game dances the line between a simple remaster and a full-on remake in the vein of 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake. But is this new version of the game worth it?
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion
A remake in every aspect that counts.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release date: Dec. 13, 2022
Several years before the events of FFVII, Zack is a plucky SOLDIER recruit training under his mentor, Angeal Hewley. Working closely with Angeal and famed SOLDIER operative Sephiroth, they uncover a conspiracy within SOLDIER that changes everything they know about their place in the organization.
Crisis Core Reunion isn’t necessarily a major design overhaul like Final Fantasy VII Remake was, but it still feels like a remake in every aspect that counts. In the original PSP release, Crisis Core's combat felt stiff and clunky. For an action RPG, basic sword slashes took far too long to come out. When it came to spells and items, scrolling through the same linear menu for each of your combat options felt incredibly limiting.
Thankfully, the new game takes plenty of cues from FFVII Remake to improve the combat considerably. Even basic sword combos feel flashy and satisfying, with each hit making an enormous impact. Your Magic and Attack Materia have also been expanded to their easy-to-access Quick Menus for a more intuitive combat flow. The most noticeable improvement by far made to Crisis Core are the changes made to the DMW (Digital Mind Wave).
This system relegates all of your heavy-hitting Limit Breaks and Summon moves to a chance-based roulette, where matching numbers and images grant bonuses. In the original game, the DMW stopped a fight in its tracks for the game to show you the results of the roulette, regardless of whether or not you get a favorable outcome.
Thankfully in Crisis Core Reunion, the DMW will match on its own without disrupting battle. What’s more, players can now control when to use these flashier attacks. The DMW still relies heavily on chance, but there are far fewer stops getting in the way of you and a fight.
The combat in Crisis Core Reunion have gotten a Remake-like upgrade, making it a more definitive version of the game than the original. But the rest of the game dips more into “remaster” territory, which essentially amounts to a glossier layer of paint over some of Crisis Core’s pre-existing qualities and tedium. While fights are easily more fun than the original, the sheer amount of them can become overwhelming.
Enemies can respawn incredibly quickly, and though combat is still a decent challenge, enemy encounters can suddenly swarm you before you realize it.
Thankfully, the main story still manages to hold the whole experience together rather well. The story is the same as you may remember from the original Crisis Core, which is already quite compelling to begin with. But the new voice cast and updated performances help make the drama equally as enjoyable the second time around. Dialogue that was previously unvoiced on the PSP are now fully acted, making Zack’s interactions with the cast feel more meaningful and entertaining.
For everything that the term “Remake” means for a video game, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion feels like a great compromise between a remake and a remaster. Some of its pre-existing issues are still around, but the game still makes all of the necessary improvements to make the revisit to Crisis Core worthwhile.