After a nearly 4 year absence, 2019 has been the year where the Final Fantasy VII Remake has seen details, photos and even gameplay footage finally revealed to the world. A teaser trailer was shown at E3 2015 marked the official announcement of the remake fans had been craving, we were teased with snippets of visuals and videos but nothing more. That all changed at E3 2019, when Square Enix treated everyone to what they’d been waiting for.
But it has raised some interesting questions amongst fans: was it a remake or a remaster people have been asking for?
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief history lesson on Final Fantasy VII and the remake. Released first on the PlayStation 1 back in 1997, FFVII follows the story of a rebel group called AVALANCHE, led by protagonist Cloud Strife, as they try to save the world from the evil mega-corporation Shinra and the psychopath, scary Sephiroth. The story and characters received rave reviews and the game quickly became a mega hit for company Sqauresoft, who would later go on to become Square Enix in 2003.
In 2005, at once again E3, Square decided to showcase the power of the new PlayStation 3 by demonstrating what the opening cinematic of FFVII would look like if it had PS3 graphics. Naturally, fans went mad and rumours started to circulate of a remaster/remake of the beloved game. After a decade of denying rumours, rejecting questions and practically being harassed with FFVII remake demands, Square Enix finally put the game into full production in 2015.
OK, so let’s bring things back to the present. We now have some confirmed details about the remake itself and needless to say, there have been some big changes. Most notably, the battle system. Previously a turn based game, FFVII remake will have a turn based/real time hybrid system. This has not gone down well with some fans, who favour the slower, strategic element of the old turn based, or ATB, system. Gameplay footage though, showcasing the opening boss fight of FFVII remake, has converted some naysayers who now believe the hybrid system offers something for everyone and provides a perfect balance between strategy and action.
The next biggest change involves the length of time spent in Midgar, the opening city of FFVII. In the original game, the Midgar section was one part of the first disc, as the original game was split across three discs, and on average clocked in at around 5-7 hours of gameplay. In the remake however, which is being released episodically, the entire first episode is Midgar, which is rumoured to be on a whopping 2 blu-ray discs! However, this does mean that Midgar, arguably the most iconic location of the original game, is going to be deeper and more complex than ever before.
As previously mentioned, the remake is going to be released episodically, which is a major concern for some old school fans. Some worry this means the game will be more linear, sacrificing the open world nature of the original. Others worry we could be waiting years in between each episode’s release, which could potentially harm interest in the game. If you finish part 1 and have to wait two years for part 2, are you necessarily going to return to it? To add fuel to the flames, Square Enix themselves have admitted they’re still trying to work out the logistics of how to do the rest of the game, meaning we could be looking at a long wait for the next episode…
So it begs the question: are fans after a remake or a remaster? Other Final Fantasy titles have been remastered in the past and have received rave reviews and given a chance for new fans to experience the games on the new systems. But sometimes, it felt a bit like a cash grab. There was nothing really added to the games. As a Final Fantasy fan, I purchased some of the remastered titles and thoroughly enjoyed playing through them again, but always felt it would be great to have a reinvention of some of these titles. FFVII still remains one of the most beloved stories in gaming and after seeing some of the footage of the remake, I for one am excited to see how this all pans out. Like others, I’m hesitant on some of the changes, particularly the episodic release, but ultimately I have hope that Square Enix are really going to pull this off. Plus, who’s not going to love a bigger, badder and beefier Midgar?
Written by James Davidson