Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Review

A great soundtrack, visually striking graphics, an entertaining combat system and bite-sized missions make Crisis Core easy to recommend to anyone with a PlayStation Portable.

Not only is Final Fantasy VII usually considered one best JRPGs of all time, but also one of the best games ever made. The game represented a huge success for both its developer and the PlayStation and while the developer toyed with the idea of releasing more games set in the same universe for years, it wasn’t until 2008 that this finally became a reality in the form of a sub-series known as the Fabula Nova Crystallis. Fabula Nova Crystallis includes Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus and the animated film Advent Children. Crisis Core is one of those entries and this action-RPG does everything you’d expect in a prequel to Final Fantasy VII and more. Crisis Core sheds more light on some familiar characters, but it also let’s you explore Midgar and its surroundings in entirely new ways. In other words, both fans of Final Fantasy VII and Japanese role-playing games are in for a treat.

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII 03

Crisis Core’s combat system is less complicated than it looks.

Crisis Core is set seven years before the events of Final Fantasy VII and in this game, you’ll see the rise of Shinra, as well as the development of mako energy and the military force behind it. SOLDIER is a group of trained combat operations and some of its members include Cloud, Angeal and Zach. The game has the latter as the protagonist and if you’ve played Final Fantasy VII, you’ll finally have the chance to see the backstory of one of the most important characters of the game. Apart from the aforementioned characters, you’ll also see Sephiroth, Genesis and Aerith, but luckily, there’s more to this game than blatant fan service.

The combat from Final Fantasy VII is nowhere to be found here which is understandable since Crisis Core is all about action. While in combat, you can move around in semi-confined spaces and you cycle through different commands using the L and R buttons, including attack, spells, items and so on. Additionally, you can dodge and block incoming attacks. There’s also a new mechanic called DMW which is introduced in the form of a reel that’s always moving in the upper-left corner of the screen and when three number 7s are aligned, you activate a special effect. Apart from numbers, you can also match images that represent important characters in the game and this allows you to perform special attacks known as Limit Breaks. Also, the materia system is back and equipping different materia changes your statistics.

As it’s usually the case with most Final Fantasy games, Crisis Core is a technical showcase for the console that it came out for (in this case, the PSP.) The visual aspect isn’t as impressive as when the game came out, especially taking into account what modern smartphones can do. Nevertheless, the FMV sequences are first in class and they rival the sort of graphics you’d find in home consoles back then. The graphics are striking and few other PSP games can match this level of fidelity. As you’d expect from a Square Enix-developed game, there’s also a fantastic soundtrack.

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII 02

There are several familiar faces in this game.

The combat is engaging, the audiovisual aspect is terrific and the story references events that lead to Final Fantasy VII which is great, but I must admit that my favorite part about Crisis Core is its unique structure. At almost any point in the game, you can accept a story mission or you can go ahead and play as many side-quests as there are vailable. Some of the side-quests are pretty descriptive, so if you want to unlock rare materia or fight gargantuan bosses, you can do that. And the best part about these side-missions is that they usually take between five to ten minutes which is great if you want to play on the go.

There are some missteps though. Seasoned JRPG players will find the experience too linear and simple, the voice acting is solid but nothing special and the story becomes convoluted and self-referential. It’s worth mentioning that you can finish this game in about 10-12 hours, but if you want to complete all the side-quests, that number can raise exponentially. Over the course of your playthough, you’ll definitely need to recharge your PSP several times, since the only version available comes in the form of a UMD (a digital version of this game doesn’t exist.)

Crisis Core is a fantastic spin-off that’s easy to recommend to fans of Final Fantasy VII because this is the best origin story set in that universe. A great soundtrack, visually striking graphics, an entertaining combat system and bite-sized missions make Crisis Core easy to recommend to anyone with a PlayStation Portable.