When I was in middle school, I remember my growing love for the Final Fantasy series. I loved the stories, the music, the characters, and I think that really began when I saw them in the Kingdom Hearts series. I wanted to learn more about the characters and the lore and began to explore all avenues of the internet to find anything to satisfy this want to explore their worlds.
By the time I got to high school, I had begun to watch videos on the early days of YouTube and tried to get my hands on the original PS1 Final Fantasy VII game. I watched early AMVs and the Advent Children film before finally getting a chance to play the original Final Fantasy VII game, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite games. There was just something with the story, the way the characters developed and the way you could have these multiple characters in your party, the turn-based system, and the music. Everything about this game helped to solidify it as my favorite.
When Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was released in 2007 for the PSP, I bought a PSP just to get this game. Needless to say, I was not disappointed with what developer Square Enix had created. Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved games and has cultivated a growing fanbase with its spinoffs and remakes alike. Crisis Core was quickly added to that list of favorite video games in my book. With Reunion being the remaster of the classic PSP game, it improves upon the graphics, adds some new details in the gameplay, and has me feeling nostalgic all over again.
Crisis Core takes audiences on a journey as they play through the story of Zack Fair, an up-and-coming Shinra SOLDIER with dreams of making it to 1st class. This prequel is set several years before the events of the main game (Final Fantasy VII) and reveals a lot about some of the franchise’s most beloved characters – both the heroes and the villains. With Reunion releasing in December 2022, I was immediately taken back to my early high school days and playing this game on a handheld.
One of the most refreshing parts about this remaster is the update in graphics. The in-game graphics and most of the cutscenes look 100 times better than what we got back in 2007; thank you, advancements in technology! Just being able to see some of these characters and play as Zack again with these updated graphics made it both enjoyable and refreshing. It really draws you into the world of Final Fantasy VII, and for me, at least, I didn’t want to stop playing. One of the issues I did have, however, was that some cutscenes were not updated, it seemed. Throughout the game, there are bigger cinematics (movie-like cinematics that are bigger in scale than the smaller cutscenes,) and those felt very similar looking to the original CGI cinematics from 2007. I am unsure why these cinematics weren’t remastered or upgraded, but it felt a little jarring to see these updated graphics go back and forth between ones of lesser quality. Despite this flaw, the rest of the graphics updates have been visually impressive.
The graphics weren’t the only change to this Crisis Core remaster; in addition, there is a brand new voice cast, new side missions, and a completely revamped combat system. With Final Fantasy VII: Remake getting an entirely new voice cast from the original spin-offs and animated movie, it made sense that Reunion would get the same treatment. At first, I didn’t really care for the new voice of Zack (Caleb Pierce) as I had always heard Rick Gomez voice him, and that had been the voice I had known as Zack Fair for over ten years. However, after continuing through the game, Pierce’s talent comes through, and he really steps into this character, making it a new iteration but still keeping true to the original. We also got the entire game voice acted, which was amazing to hear, as in the original only certain scenes had voice acting.
Crisis Core originally was a very linear game, but with the remaster, there are some new “side missions” that extend the game a little and mix it up a bit. From sneaking around Wutai troopers to getting into a Genesis fanclub through DMs, there are a lot of cute missions to extend the fun of Reunion. These missions take you through Shinra and the various sectors of Midgar and further expand the lore of the game while helping you level up, make new connections, unlock summons, and gain/craft new items. It had me sitting down and grinding through missions just to unlock the next set to see what I could get. It wasn’t an intense amount of grinding in order to accomplish the missions, and overall I really enjoyed simply hacking and slashing away at enemies.
When it comes to hacking and slashing, the gameplay was a significant improvement to the original and had an overall combat system rehaul. It draws inspiration from some of the mechanics of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, such as item usage and hud features, but the gameplay, even though it is still hack-and-slash combat as the original, feels a lot cleaner and smoother when playing. This improvement really helped to make the overall game experience enjoyable; we can overlook graphics and voice acting at times, but if the game isn’t fun to play, then it’s just not fun. With Reunion, it was definitely a fun experience.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion did exactly what a remaster should do; go through and update what needs to be updated and revamp anything in the game that might be outdated, especially on the next-gen consoles. The fact that this game was originally only released on a handheld system, and developers were able to port it over to the next gen consoles and STILL make it as enjoyable as the original, if not more, is an absolute success in my book. Even when taking off the nostalgia glasses, Reunion is still such a good and entertaining game that it left me wanting more. While we will be getting more in terms of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, maybe there is hope for a new movie…maybe even a Dirge of Cerberus remaster? Who knows; the ball is in your court Square Enix. Until then, I’m going to take Zack’s advice and embrace my dreams…and hope that the answer is yes!