Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion Hands-On Preview – Becoming The Hero

Francesco De Meo
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion

Over the years, Square Enix released quite a few titles that have become classics, but very few of them are as legendary as Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. One of the few prequels of what probably is the most popular entry in the Final Fantasy series created as part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII project, the game starring Zack Fair has been stuck on PSP since its release, which severely limited its reach, as the first portable console by Sony was far from being one of the most popular gaming systems released by the Japanese company. As such, many players will experience Zack's story for the first time with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion, a remake/remaster of the PSP-exclusive role-playing game that updates visuals and gameplay while leaving the original story intact.

Having played the original PSP release, I envy all those who will experience Zack's emotional story for the first time with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion, as I feel they will get to play the definitive version of the game. While the touched-up visuals, which include new character models for key characters, better camera, and reworked locations to make Reunion's aesthetics better fit with those of Final Fantasy VII Remake, are extremely welcome, it's the gameplay improvements that really take the cake, as they finally make the game fun to play.

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The Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII's gameplay was extremely clunky. Being a portable game, it was much smaller in scope than the original Final Fantasy VII or other contemporary Japanese role-playing games, and the combat system was extremely middling, featuring a strange mix between action and menu-based features that did not work as well as the system featured in the Kingdom Hearts series, resulting in a game that did not feel good to play. The story essentially carried the whole experience, which was a shame, as the combat system did have some potential, potential that is finally realized in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion with a few choice tweaks that are meant to make the combat system feel more like an action combat system than the weird hybrid of the original. There's still a slight delay at the start of a battle with the infamous "Activating Combat Mode", but it's much, much shorter, Zack controls way smoother, and he is now able to unleash combo attacks and string together Magic and special attack skills, which can be assigned to 6 different buttons thanks to a new shortcut system, the dreaded DMW system, a slot-machine like system which grants Zack's random buffs and access to Limit Breaks has been reworked to be less intrusive, no longer breaking up the flow of action. While the combat system is still on the simple side and doesn't quite reach the quality of Final Fantasy VII Remake, these tweaks make it so much better than the original.

The visual improvements and the combat tweaks introduced by Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the improvements featured by the new version of the game. The interface has been completely overhauled to align with Final Fantasy VII Remake, making managing Zack's abilities and equipment far less annoying. The soundtrack has also been rearranged by original composer Ishimoto Takeharu, and it sounds quite good for the most part, and so does the new English dub, with characters that appear in Final Fantasy VII Remake reprising their roles, creating a welcome sense of continuity. Those who played the original multiple times will have a hard time adjusting to the new voice actors, but in the first three Chapters of the game, the new voice actors deliver solid performances, despite the writing not being particularly inspired. As Reunion features the same story as the original, as mentioned above, this shouldn't be surprising to those who played the original, as Zack's adventure takes a while to get going.

My first five hours or so with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion have been a blast, and I can't wait to dive deeper into the game to see how Zack's emotional story feels with all the improvements. If the game's quality stays the same for the rest of the adventure, I feel like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion will be one of Square Enix's finest remasters of the past few years.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Reunion launches on December 13th on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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