Final Fantasy VII is easily the most polarizing game in the series. When it first released in 1997, the game received universal praise from review outlets and fans alike. Years passed, and for awhile it became too cool to hate. Haters cited the game’s aging graphics as the largest point of contention. Now, with the impending release of the Final Fantasy VII remake, the game has once again been elevated to beloved status. To curb the hunger of fans eager for the remake, Square Enix released an HD port of the original game to PS4. But fortunately, PS4 owners now have a chance to experience the original game and thankfully – its worth your heard-earned money.
The PS4 port retains the graphical fidelity of the PC port with hi-resolution character models, but it also adds two improvements introduced in the iOS port of the game: ability to become invincible at will and turn off random encounters. The PS4 version adds a third feature to the game as well- the ability to speed up the game 3x. And, for all the trophy hunters out there, Final Fantasy VII has full trophy support including a platinum trophy.
The ability to become invincible isn’t a feature entirely necessary for the game in the first place, because its one of the easiest games in the franchise, but it does help cut down on the monotony of trying to earn every character’s limit breaks. This ability is toggled with a click of the right analog stick and ensures that your party remains fully healed, and their limit breaks always full. Limit Breaks are powerful special abilities earned by either using a limit break x amount of times and killing y number of enemies. Newcomers will appreciate this feature if their last save was five hours back and teeter on the verge of death.
Turning off random encounters, because, let’s face it, this is truly the only part of the game that doesn’t hold up, is another worthwhile addition. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to explore an area for treasure than a random battle interrupting you with no threat greater than a waste of time. Hell, it even helps if you just want to experience your favorite chunks of the game.
The best feature included in the PS4 version of the game is the ability to speed up gameplay 3x. Long gone are the hours wasted grinding away against enemies, trekking vast landscapes, and escaping the early dull moments of the game. Although it is important to note, some interesting slow-down occurs when you shut off the speed boost during battle. The game nearly chugs to a halt, but thankfully, shortly resumes its normal speed. So players new to the game have the ability to play the game in a way that respects their time, while returning players can speed through areas to get to cherished moments.
Characters are the only things that are a bit odd. Final Fantasy VII is notorious for its strange polygonal characters set against beautiful, hand-drawn backgrounds. The character models are so jarring because every major character has three different models.
But these conflicting character models cobbled together with misshapen polygons only add to the games charm, especially against the backgrounds which absolutely hold up to this day. At the same time, newcomers will be able to truly appreciate the huge graphical improvement the upcoming Remake brings.
And for the moment of truth: is this game worth buying? If it’s your first foray into Final Fantasy VII – absolutely. Regardless of how you feel about the upcoming Remake, the original Final Fantasy VII is a classic that deserves the notoriety it gets. As for returning players, this is the definitive version of the original game. The added features are a refreshing way to play through a beloved game, quickly and eases the pain of aging design choices. While the character models conflict with lush backgrounds, the HD port polishes them to a shine. These clean models help recreate the sense of wonder you had back when you first played the game.
More of a good thing is rarely a bad thing, making the Final Fantasy VII PS4 port well worth picking up for long-time fans or newcomers looking to dust-off an old classic in preparation for the Remake that is on the way.