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Preview: Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion Sticks to Its Roots

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Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion

Final Fantasy VII Remake set a precedent for Square Enix remakes going forward. The entire combat system was overhauled to make the game appeal to more modern sensibilities and a broader audience. With gameplay pivoting from ATB turn-based battles to something more action oriented, it positioned the future of the franchise away from its more classic elements. But before it came another game that shook up the formula, and it wasn’t Final Fantasy XV. It was Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, a prequel entry to the much beloved Final Fantasy VII, now it is coming back with its Reunion remaster.

After the resounding success of Final Fantasy VII Remake, remastering Crisis Core seemed like the most logical solution. But what Square Enix has provided is a little more than just a standard remaster. All characters in the game are fully voiced, and the in-game graphics have been given a significant overhaul. While Zack no longer looks close to his original model or even cinematic model, given how the art direction for the series shifted, the upgrade feels decent enough in its overall presentation. It helps make the experience look more up-to-date and appealing to those unfamiliar with the original release on the PlayStation Portable.

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion

However, one thing about Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion in its early hours that sticks out above everything else is how little it actually changed, and how much better it is for it. Outside of those major graphic upgrades to character models, the scenery, and visual effects, this updated version of Crisis Core just slaps on a better looking skin to an already great game. Even within the first three chapters, I immediately recognized why this remaster genuinely just feels good to play — and it’s because the original game had all of the bells and whistles to make it something really special.

Crisis Core functions on a more action focused combat system, with random battles relegated to instances of enemies appearing on your screen that you can hack away at with Zack’s sword or light up with an assortment of magic. These contained battles work super well and always appear in fairly short bursts that don’t overstay their welcome. This format carried over from the PSP release, but suits the remaster fairly well. You can also equip Materia to cast spells or use special attacks using the MP or AP resources to take care of foes. These Materia can also be equipped and leveled up, to make them (and Zack) stronger as a result.

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion

There is a whole complex system here that can be dug into, which involves Materia fusing and lots of grinding, but it works in tandem with the general gameplay elements. It’s easy to lose yourself in the game, especially since outside of the main scenario there are also side quests which provide rewards in both items and Materia, as well as valuable unlocks that you’ll want to grind for. This makes for an already meaty experience, even fairly early on, since natural story progression unlocks more than a few of these side missions fast enough that you can grind to level up your Materia.

Overall, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion feels like it will be something fun to revisit because it has aged so spectacularly well. This is largely in part because of how well polished the original release of the game is. It’s something to definitely look forward to, especially with the gaps it can fill out for newcomers to the Final Fantasy extended universe. If Square Enix chooses to stick with what made Crisis Core such a fantastic title to begin with, it’s sure to stick the landing and pull another generation of players back into Midgar.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion will come out for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PC on December 13, 2022. The PC version was tested for this hands-on preview.

Kazuma Hashimoto
Translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs. In his spare time he speedruns games from the Resident Evil series, and raids in Final Fantasy XIV. He also works in PR for UberStrategist.