Zack from Crisis Core FFVII Reunion is a hero for many reasons. There are the obvious ones, of course. This is a man who made a name for himself in Shinra and Midgar for successfully completing assigned missions. He’s also revered for often doing the right thing, as he’d stand by his friends and maintain a sense of honor. But he’s also admirable for the smaller things, like his willingness to indulge children and his optimistic attitude. However, a big part of what makes it possible for him to do all this and maintain such goodwill is, well, Zack is so damn nice! Zack is not only one of the most pleasant heroes in not just FFVII and Final Fantasy as a whole, but RPGs in general. It’s this fact that helps make Crisis Core such a joy to play.
The first few hours of the game are basically a means of showing how delightful Zack can be, all before things start to go terribly awry. When we see him training with Angeal at Shinra, we get a direct parallel of his situation versus Cloud’s. Both are coming in at the Midgar train station. Each one is facing Shinra soldiers, then eventually Sephiroth. But Zack is confident, jubilant, and exceptional in a way that contrasts severely with Cloud. He’s boisterous, but in a way that makes you want to root for his endeavors. Once he’s in the meeting with his superiors, he’s still completely effervescent. Yes, he’ll snap to attention and be as professional as possible when needed. But he’s fidgeting with excitement when on missions, eager to prove himself, friendly with everyone he meets, and people clearly find it easy to develop a rapport with him.
All of this makes Zack prime material for some good-natured dunking in Crisis Core FFVII Reunion, which is hilarious and emphasizes how pleasant he is. When Lazard asks what Zack’s dream is and hears it is to be a hero, he says, “Ah, good! Unattainable dreams are the best kind.” After Angeal uses the Buster Sword to save Zack in a pinch, he remarks Zack is “just a little” more important than his weapon. We eventually find out when Angeal told his mother Gillian about Zack, he referred to him as a “puppy.” But he never takes this badly. Rather, Zack rolls with the punches.
And honestly, “puppy” isn’t that negative a term when used to describe Zack. Yes, Gillian eventually elaborates that Angeal noted Zack was “restless” and had “zero attention span.” But even when we’re learning about this, we can tell it was more of an affectionate tone. Not to mention Zack’s nature like that is what makes him so lovable. Sure, there are those “puppy” traits. But he’s also incredibly loyal, energetic, and willing to play along with people. That last one also results in a delightful encounter with a young Yuffie early on, in which he lets her think she’s beaten the big, bad SOLDIER.
Especially since that kind of outlook and personality can end up becoming something someone else might admire. His good nature, not to mention personality that lets him accomplish his dream of becoming a hero, makes him an inspiration to others. Namely, Cloud. He’s everything Cloud wanted to be. He’s a SOLDIER. He’s powerful. He’s a hero. He’s beloved. Not to mention he did so despite coming from similar roots as a young man from Gongaga.
Not to mention Zack’s loyalty and kindness seems to inspire that in others. He’s got Aerith and Cloud’s, unquestionably. But his relationship with the members of the Turks emphasize this. Zack forms a friendship with Cissnei throughout Crisis Core FFVII Reunion. The two are amicable whenever they meet, even when things might be a bit more terse between him and Reno and Rude. He saves her from Genesis’ copies, and she in turn lets him slip away. But even Tseng, who he works alongside on multiple missions, shows an obvious fondness for him. So much so that he saves the letters Aerith wrote for Zack and attempts to use the Turks to save him from his fate.
It’s like there’s a constant sense of enthusiasm surrounding Zack. This is someone who isn’t afraid to be goofy with a child, even if that child is from an enemy nation. He’s vibrant, acting as a sense of beacon and hope for a character like Cloud who sees him as role model. He’s someone you want to know and help, with even the hardened Turks coming to his aid and trying to assist him. Zack is the very definition of a hero, and his wonderfully positive and affable personality help make Crisis Core FFVII Reunion such a wonderful game.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. The original game appeared on the PSP.