Checking Out Final Fantasy VII Remake at TGS 2019 - PreviewThomas Froehlicher , posted on 20 September 2019 / 2,125 Views
Few Japanese releases make the kind of the headlines and attract the same level of attention as Final Fantasy VII Remake. The rebirth of Squaresoft's worldwide hit was playable at the 2019 Tokyo Game Show at both Square Eninx's booth as well as Sony's, and thanks to PlayStation's numbered tickets I was fortunate enough to access the demo of Final Fantasy VII Remake without even waiting.
The trial version I played takes you to Shinra's Mako Reactor in the city of Midgar. Shinra is an electric power company consuming the planet's resources for its own profit. Barrett, the leader of a group of ecologists, hires an ex-member of Shinra's security forces to help him stop the company's wrongdoing. That's how Cloud, the well-known protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, enters one of the main generators in order to destroy it.
This provides a perfect opportunity to grapple with the long-awaited remake's gameplay. Final Fantasy VII Remake utilises hybrid gameplay that cleverly mixes blunt action with turn-based controls. The circle button allows you to stop the flow of battle with astonishingly stylish slow-motion. Then you can freely and carefully choose any action between physical skills, magic, and items. It's worth noting that Cloud already has some exclusive skills in the demo.
For these, you need the traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) bar, which to the delight of many is back in this entry. Every one of the aforementioned actions requires one full ATB bar (of a maximum of two in the demo) to be performed and it fills faster when attacking directly with the square button. On the action side of the battle system, dodging and guarding were available to use, but they don't currently feel very responsive in the trial version of the game. Cloud's reactions when evading or guarding felt too slow to me.
Thanks to his gatling gun, Barrett is able to take down aerial foes. Cloud apparently can't reach them, so that means there might be greater character specialization in the remake. Last but not least, limit breaks were usable in the demo as well. You need to wait for the limit break gauge to be full before you can perform your super-attack without relying on the ATB bar. This means that regular combos, skills, and limit break can be chained for more efficiency – a cool feature in my opinion. The boss would also fall into a staggered state, which allowed me to deal more damage. In short, it looks very much like Final Fantasy XIII's break system is back again.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a visually stunning experience. It's like rediscovering long-lost favourite characters, thanks to the graphical leap between the original and the remake. The art direction given to battles is no less impressive; the once very common boss fight against the scorpion machine turns into a Hollywood-like action scene, with extensive camera work and several stages. The armored foe sometimes jumps on the wall and fires missiles, shields itself against physical attacks, and prepares an unblockable move.
Voices are a great addition compared to the original as well. The little voice acting (in Japanese) that could be heard at the beginning and end of the demo was strong, especially Barrett's, as his short-tempered nature and initial distrust for Cloud come across well in his tone. Thus far it seems the atmosphere of the original has been faithfully recreated.
Playing Final Fantasy VII Remake only raised my hype for the game, and that was just from experiencing the first boss. Square Enix has taken the time to think the battle system through and make it as enjoyable and visually stunning as possible. The scale of the modernization is impressive and my head whirls in anticipation for how the rest if the game will be presented. The adventure of Final Fantasy VII Remake has just begun and is sure to entertain fans for years to come.
Preview based on a 20 minute demo available at Tokyo Game Show 2019, running on a PS4 Pro.