Final Fantasy VII and why it’s just okay

Many people who know me know that I don’t enjoy Final Fantasy VII that much. I don’t absolutely loathe the game or think it’s a bad one, I hold it very closely as my first RPG ever (when I wasn’t even familiar with the term role play), however, I don’t think of it as highly as I did when I was 14 or 15 years old. Partly because I have been through other and better games.

I know how revolutionary it was back then and I know it has a place in the History of video games forever, but I have played better games and I cannot see this as the best video game or even JRPG ever made. I would argue that Final Fantasy IX is a better game than VII if anything because it has a better and more likable cast but it fails to use a very interesting concept that VII uses to its advantage: the concept of memory and self-awareness.
Both protagonists don’t fully realize who they’re, but while Zidane takes care of that in one although very touching sense (which is very much in character even if it’s not the best way to write a character) Cloud takes his sweet time with his memory loss and his issue of not fully knowing who he is. That is amazingly interesting and very close to humanity; our memories are fragile and can easily fail us. We don’t always remember things as they happened and it’s not unusual for our brain to remember things according to how we feel towards that certain moment or to “delete” it from our memories because of how traumatic it was.

What one Final Fantasy doesn’t do well or does okay, other Final Fantasy games do much better, however, it still bugs me after all these years to see Final Fantasy VII hailed as the best video game/RPG/JRPG ever made. It is a profoundly faulted game. Of course, we know the technology better and the translation didn’t help the game at all, but I stand by what I said.

One of the worse parts of the game, for me, it is the main character. Not that he’s a poor character, he’s just boring. Cloud is a guy who drags his feet around because he’s not strong enough to be an elite soldier and because he doesn’t have his memory. For half of a game, he doesn’t even remember that his best friend and biggest supporter died to protect him and his dream and as such his depression doesn’t make that much sense because he is taking Zack’s role and memories. Of course, it could very well come from not remembering, but he doesn’t seem too bothered by that until much later in the game.

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Zack and Cloud in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Yet, Zack doesn’t have that big of an impact in FFVII; his show is Crisis Core where he is the main character and his personality shines much brightly. He is a charismatic and fair young man that meets a tragic fate. Without this aid, I don’t think his character has that much of an impact in FFVII. But his protagonist also gives CC a much bigger impact because if we like and identify with the protagonist we have sympathy and care for him and therefore want the best for him.

However, there is an even bigger problem than the protagonist that doesn’t really work for me: the story.
I feel that the plot wastes time on the wrong things, like a fight against an evil corporation that is stealing the live force of the planet instead of focusing on the good concepts like human experimentation, memory, self and the horrors soldiers go through. The game decides to focus on capitalism rather than focusing on something that could have made us think.
I’m not saying that fighting a corporation couldn’t have been a good plot, it could have, but with these concepts of loss, identification, and reality, the game could have been something much bigger and better.

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Midgar

This is all very personal. I’m the person who likes the grandiose plots about the human condition, that challenge my emotions and views, that we can always come back to and discuss. I don’t feel this way about FFVII. It has issues that surround it and makes it impossible for me to even say it’s the best Final Fantasy.

If we continue on issues, I do have some with Sephiroth. He’s a weak villain because he’s not very well written. I don’t want to reduce him to mommy’s boy status because that’s belittling the character, yet he’s not that great.
He has a great concept behind him. He’s the perfect soldier, made from the genetic material of an alien and the (I dare say) forceful union between the mad scientist Hojo and his assistance Lucrecia Crescent. That is a great backstory to work with, a perfect soldier who is unaware of his own true nature and when he is made somewhat aware to him. What falls apart is how he is presented.

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He is ignorant. He is ignorant and he never stops being so. For more tragic that is, I cannot pity someone who has all the knowledge in his hands and never questions anything he simply assumes. Yes, that is where is tragedy lies but ever quite works because he could know the truth all he had to do was ask. Of course, that is still where his tragedy lies. He is being used by Jenova to take over the planet because she’s evil and that’s what evil creatures do.
But you know what, he wants to be a God because he hates everything and only he is worth and I cannot pity someone who has a God complex because of a lie he made up for himself.
But you know what annoys me even more? The way he focuses on Cloud. It’s always Cloud because Cloud is special and he hates Cloud so he will always come back to haunt Cloud and make him miserable.
If Sephiroth wants to become a God why focus so much on this one person? If he can come back multiple times just try to take over the world AGAIN rather than focusing solely on Cloud.
Maybe I’m being simple minded since Cloud can kill Sephiroth (actually he has done so three times), but it really bugs me to as why must we focus on the same characters and the same issues over and over again and feeling that there was no progression and all the development made in the previous games was lost because we’re still ruining around in circles with Sephiroth and Jenova by the time Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII comes around.

I would compare him to Kuja but honestly, I will let his words speak for him.

Peace is but a shadow of death, desperate to forget its painful past… Though we hope for promising years after shedding a thousand tears, yesterday’s sorrow constantly nears. And while the moon still shines blue, by dawn, it will turn to scarlet hue.

But this but a rambling. A soul speaking to her will.

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