Final Fantasy VII
Notching Up Some 15 Millions Sales worldwide, the Final Fantasy series could be considered a 'bit of a success' in anyone's book. At the end of last year, PlayStation owners climbed over themselves in a dash to get hold of a copy of the seventh title in the long-running Japanese saga. Reports in the console press described Final Fantasy VII as "the biggest game ever", "a heck of an achievement" and "a game that everyone should own". Judging by the public response, Final Fantasy VII struck a resounding chord with everyone that played it and was responsible for a period of mass gaming hibernation over the long cold winter months.
The dust has only just settled and Squaresoft are now preparing to fan the flames of Final Fantasy fervour all over again with a brand new PC conversion of this incredibly popular console adventure.
Relationships - who needs them?
Final Fantasy VII is a futuristic tale of life, love and relationships which starts out in a grimy neo-conurbation known as Midgar.
This walled city, powered by a mysterious form of 'earth energy' called Mako, is under attack from a group of rebel Eco terrorists called Avalanche and led by Cloud, the game's central character, who's also the subject of the player's whim. Avalanche are concerned that the ruling power in Midgar is draining the entire planet of this life-giving energy and are out to put a stop to it. The city's ultra-powerful conglomerate forces of Shinra Inc are equally determined to stamp out this renegade uprising, and are prepared to go to any length to cover up their sinister intentions in the process.
A real interest
From the outset, Final Fantasy VII sets out to draw the player into a mixed-up world of technology and magic by way of an exceptionally strong line in character development. Cloud and his rebel compatriots converse fluently and realistically, invoking emotion and a real interest in their plight - something Squaresoft have worked very hard to achieve. Strangely, almost all the dialogue in the game is text-based, and some PC owners may find it a little disconcerting at first. Most of us who have grown up on a staple diet of digitised speech and 'proper' voice characterisation may have reservations, but PlayStation owners maintain that this text-only system works and is rather like the gaming equivalent of reading a good book.
The main reasoning behind this technological sideways step is that it's the only practical way to incorporate the mass of dialogue- not to mention the fact that it would otherwise take more than ten CDs of data to work effectively. Which just wouldn't do now, would it? And believe me, there really is a huge amount of speech in the game, all of which pops up in easy-to-read dialogue boxes as the players act it out.
Interspersed within the moderately linear adventuring aspects of Final Fantasy VII is a completely random 'real-time, turnbased' combat system that forms an exciting backbone to the story itself. Cloud and co can be wandering along, minding their own business, when - all of a sudden - the display will cut away to a menu-driven 'Battle Screen' as the 'handbags' come out. The system itself is easy enough to use, but the options presented to the player during combat are staggering to say the least (especially later in the game when magical 'Materia' stones become more important). With every turn, each character in the party is offered the option of an 'attack' move (which is powered up depending on equipped weapons and health status), a 'magic' move (which varies depending on equipped Materia), or the chance to use an item in their inventory. The amount and variety of magical attacks is in itself enough to make any self-respecting RPG boffin spooge with delight, and visually the moves are acted out in stunning special effect-laden 30. Victory in battle equals experience points equals more power equals bigger bangs in combat. But defeat, on the other hand, equals the loss of a character equals the end of the game. Which, considering the gigantic proportions of Final Fantasy, wouldn't be very good going at all.
This new PC version, we're told, will be pretty much identical to the PlayStation release, bar one very important feature: vastly enhanced graphics. The pre-rendered flick-screen environs are exactly the same as before, but everything else - including the battle sequences and the brilliant Mario64-style 'World Map' stages - have been souped up beyond belief... if you have a 3D accelerator card, that is. 3Dfx-ed up Final Fantasy VII is an impressive light show of colours and effects, and you shouldn't need too high-spec a machine to get the best out of either. So now it'll be the turn of PlayStation owners to look at the game in envy.
But there's far, far, far more to Final Fantasy VII than can possibly be described in a single preview. Players can look forward to uncovering hundreds of secrets, surprises, arcadestyle sub-games, with the promise of many, many hours of tough, enlightening adventuring on the way. We'll be keeping a sharp eye on Final Fantasy VII and reporting on it over the coming months before its release in May. So stay tuned...
- FFVII has turned out to be one of the finest RPGs I have ever played. I've been an RPGer since the early '80s, but this game has the best storyline I've ever seen. The graphics (especially in combat) are awesome, and the character interaction is both in-depth and compelling. This game makes me think of buying a console platform just to experience the earlier games in the series. In any way, shape or form, FFVII's a winner!
- "FFVII is a refreshing change. A lot of talented programmers are working on projects that produce great games like Quake and Unreal, but why aren't there any talented RPG producers? It's been pointless fighting with thin plots for too long now. Seems like games nowadays revolve round how many skills you can potentially use, how long you can hold on to an out-of-date game engine, and how awkward they can make the game interface. Not so with FFVII, which has great graphics, excellent plot and an easy-to-use interface.
- "FFVII was a good PlayStation game and that's about it. The game is too restrictive on the PC, and I hate games that make you do things in a certain order or follow a story/plotline down to the wire. FFVII will be hyped and then soon end up in the clearance bin. You're probably better off buying a PlayStation to play it on rather than buying the PC version.
- To sum up: good game, crappy port. First off, the game carries a lot of baggage over from the PlayStation. For example, the only two methods of using the interface is with the keyboard or gamepad - Eidos seem to have ignored the fact that every PC that can run this game has a mouse.
Second, instead of actually taking the original artwork and rendering it to 640x480, they took the artwork rendered for the PlayStation and stretched it to 640x480, resulting in some very crappy art at times (it gave me 8-bit NES flashbacks). Also, they picked Direct3D over Glide for 3Dfx owners. This was dumb, since the Glide drivers have fewer problems and are much smaller and faster. I like FFVII but, frankly, I think it's the last product I'll buy from Eidos. Life's too short to endure sloppy, lazy programming.
Everything You Wanted To Know: Part 1
The Cbig plot' of Final Fantasy is not in itself that difficult to follow. However, the further you go into the game, the more freedom you get - you eventually reach a point where you can just ignore the storyline for a while. This guide tells you the best things to do in these Cin-betweeny bits', and also provides some general tips.
General Battle Strategy
Put characters with ranged weapons on the back row, as they can dish out as much punishment from there but only take half damage. Give everyone a Restore/All materia combination -this means that anyone can cure the whole party if necessary. Also try to provide everyone with at least one offensive spell.
If you're facing several different types of enemy, take out the more vicious ones first.
If there are two rows, knock out the front one first. Never run away. Complete every battle to gain experience points, otherwise you'll be seriously underpowered come boss time.
The Hidden Characters
Getting Vincent is tricky - he's hidden in the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim. Go to the Mansion, and into the alcove In the bottom-left of the first room, and read the note on the floor. Now, you can either try and solve the clues yourself (each clue points to something in the Mansion which has a number written on it) or take the easy way out - the combination to the safe upstairs Is: right to 36, left to 10, right to 59, right to 97. The safe will open and... Oh no! A boss!
Lost Number is one evil bastard. One half of him does magic and the other does devastating physical attacks. The Cmagic' side is vulnerable to physical attacks, and vice versa. We recommend you take out the physical side - if you don't, his special move Lost Blow will knock your party flat. So magic away until he throws off his butch side and proceeds to blat you with magic. Keep battering away and he'll be history.
Beating Lost Number gets you the Summon Odin materia and the key to the basement. Go to the cellar and walk Into the wall at the top left of the passageway In the overhead view section. In there you'll meet Vincent in his coffin. Tell him about Sephiroth, ask who he is, then leave. He'll join you.
Vincent is cool. His ranged weapons can cause hefty damage but his Limit Breaks are a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, he does turn into demons and horror movie stars, but he also goes Berserk, at which time you have no control over him whatsoever. This Is good In normal battles, but bad in boss fights.
To find out some of Vincent's back story, take the submarine or a Chocobo to the pool and the waterfall in the middle of the Central Continent Walk behind the waterfall on Disc one or two for an oh-so-revealing surprise... Return again on Disc three to get Vincent's best weapon and his Level 4 Limit Break manual.
Double-crossing, back-stabbing little bitch Yuffie is another hidden character. To get her, you need to have a number of fights in any of the forests on the World Map. Eventually you meet an enemy called Mystery Ninja. Beat her and you can talk to her. When she wants another fight, tell her you're not interested. Talk to her again and use these responses: Petrified...; Wait a second!; ...That's right; and Let's huny on. She'll join you.
When you're a higher level character, go to Wutai on the far Western Continent. Yuffie buggers off with most of your materia and you need to chase the little tart around Wutai. She turns up In several places: her father's house near the Pagoda, the doddering old man's house on the far right, the materia store, and inside the pot outside the bar. When you catch her, you go back to her house. She locks two of your party in a cage - pull the lever to release them.
Then go to the big gate near the Pagoda. It's open -ring the bell. A secret passage opens and you find Yuffie... accompanied by Don Comeo. Agree to co-operate with the 'Dirks, and search the big statue for Don, Yuffie and Elena. When you find them, you have to fight an easy boss - without materia. Make sure you're in possession of plenty of Potions and the like, as it can do some nasty damage if It feels that way inclined. Save Yuffie and Elena and you get your materia back -but In a messed-up order. Sori it out, put Yuffie in your party and go to the Pagoda. Beat up everyone all the way up the Pagoda until you reach Godo at the top. If you get shrunk and don't have a Transform spell handy, simply batter Godo with magic attacks and Summons. The other fighters can all be beaten with physical attacks and low-level magic.
Yuffie's a useful fighter. She uses ranged weapons so can be placed on the back row, no problem. Her Limit Breaks are a mixture of defensive and offensive, so they're a useful addition to your party.
About The Chocobo
If you want to catch all the game's secrets, you're gonna have to breed chocobos. This is a long-winded process so be ready for it. However, your hours of work will pay off when you get your gold chocobo
Different colours of chocobo have different abilities. Here's a summary of what each can do:
- YELLOW - No special abilities
- BLUE - Can run over shallow water
- GREEN - Can run over mountains
- BLACK - Combines skills of blue and green chocobos
- GOLD - Can go anywhere
There are five types of chocobo to catch, and they're all yellow, if you want different colours, you have to breed them. The types are crap, average, walking, running and dashing. Crap and average ones can be caught on any of the tracks. Walking ones can be caught near Gold Saucer. Running ones can be caught on the South Continent near Mideel. Dashing ones can be caught on the Northern Continent.
Buy some chocobo stables at the farm. Chocobo Bill will explain everything. Catch a walking chocobo and a running chocobo - of different sexes, obviously. Now fly over the Northern Continent until you see an isolated house with a little patch of grass around it Land and visit the chocobo sage, then wait outside on the grass until you have to fight a red dragon. Steal from it until you get a carob nut Take this back to the stables and save! Breed the chocobo with the nut If you don't get a blue or a green chocobo, reload and try again. If you constantly fail, feed them loads and loads of greens (the sage sells the best greens in the world) and race them at Gold Saucer. Win six races with each to make them Class A chocobos. Now save and try breeding them again.
Assuming that worked right, save and repeat the process until you get a chocobo of the other colour (green if you got blue already, or vice versa). Also make sure your blue and green chocobos are of different sexes! Now go and get another carob nut and loads of sylkis greens from the chocobo Sage. Feed the greens to your blue and your green and race them until they're both Class A. Save and breed them. If you don't get a black one, reload and try again.
Finally, to get the elusive gold chocobo, go to Goblin Island (the island furthest to the north-east on the map display). Steal a zeio nut from the goblins there. Go and catch a dashing chocobo of the opposite sex to your black one. Save and make them shag. You should soon have a gold chocobo! This can be used to find all the Natural Materias in the world.
Invest in a Gold Ticket as soon as you can afford it. There are loads of things worth doing at Gold Saucer
See chocobo panel above.
Equip your best character with any protection you can (preferably a ribbon if you've got one - these protect against all abnormal status) and keep fighting. Get as many points as you can. Get enough points and you get Cloud's Level 4 Limit manual and a materia called W-Summon which enables you to cast two Summon spells in one turn. Pull this off and try again - this time you 2 fight bosses. Beat this and you get Final Attack materia - pair this with a spell and, as that character croaks, the spell is cast. The ideal thing to pair with this Is Revive - that way, as the character swoons they're A immediately revived.
Download Final Fantasy VII
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode