Crisis Core English Hands-On

Return to Midgar as we play the final US version of Square Enix's hotly awaited portable spin-off of Final Fantasy VII.

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While diehard fans keep waiting for Square Enix to unleash the license-to-print-money otherwise known as the long-rumored Final Fantasy VII remake, they can at least tide themselves over with the upcoming PSP spin-off prequel, Crisis Core. Square has been milking FFVII nostalgia for years with lighter fare like Japan-only mobile games, but based on our time with an early version of Crisis Core, we can confidently say this is the most complex and lavishly produced of all the games based on the bafflingly popular PlayStation original that we've seen yet.

That's not to say it's necessarily very similar to its predecessor, at least in gameplay terms. Crisis Core drops you in the role of Zack Fair, the elite SOLDIER operative who was only glimpsed in flashback in the original Final Fantasy VII. Like all members of SOLDIER, Zack is a special agent who cleans up after the nefarious Shin-Ra corporation, the organization that owns FFVII's central city of Midgar, and the one which is quietly sucking dry the life force of the planet. A few hours into the storyline, we haven't quite figured out where things are going yet. So far, we've been chasing after a rogue SOLDIER named Genesis alongside our mentor, a hard but noble agent named Angeal who's showing plucky young Zack the ropes. Based on what we know about Shin-Ra from Final Fantasy VII, we can't really blame Genesis for going against the grain, but we'll see where the story goes from here.

Crisis Core wastes no time pulling at your nostalgic heartstrings. Familiar characters like effete goth heartthrob Sephiroth, spunky little ninja-in-training Yuffie, and austere Tseng of the Turks have gotten plenty of play so far, and we expect a lot more to show up throughout the game. The game's CG-animated intro movie is highly reminiscent of the original game's opening sequence (and is also of startlingly high quality, as is all of the CG we've seen so far). Even the sound effects that accompany menu selections and such are spot-on re-creations of those in FFVII. Fans will surely be pleased.

Spiky hair, big swords, baffling plot--yep, it's a Final Fantasy game.

The game follows a linear mission structure that has you hanging out at Shin-Ra HQ, receiving orders, heading out into the field to carry out those orders, and ending up back home awaiting your next assignment again. There's no overworld that we've seen yet, but you can at least venture out into Midgar's underbelly between missions, though we haven't found much to do there yet, since it's sparsely populated. We've already seen one location, Wutai, that we remember from the original game, as well as a couple of new towns that have seemingly been created just for this game.

So far, the combat system has been the most surprising aspect of Crisis Core to us, since it blends action and more traditional role-playing-style turn-based combat into a fast-paced whole. You'll control Zack manually, running around and dodging enemy attacks, But you'll issue standard attack, magic, and item commands from a command bar at the bottom that you cycle through with the shoulder buttons. So if you want to hit an enemy with your sword, you'll have to target them (the game automatically targets the enemy in Zack's line of sight) and select the attack command while you're running around.

There's also a bizarre slot machine of sorts called the DMW that works during battles, though even in this English build, we haven't quite made sense of it yet. The DMW will kick in seemingly at random during battles, at which point it will take over the screen and scroll three columns of characters' faces. Depending on the face matches and the numbers attached, you could become briefly invulnerable or be able to use magic without expending MP, or you may be able to use a flashy animated special attack that sees Zack flying all over the screen and slashing everything to ribbons. As you meet new characters and summoned monsters, their faces will be added to the DMW, giving you more special attacks that may be randomly selected.

You've also got a constrained version of FFVII's materia system here, which lets you equip new materia in slots that will add new physical attack abilities, magic spells, and summons to your arsenal. However, the RPG-style character customization is more limited than you'd expect. In addition to four materia slots, you've only got two accessory slots into which you can equip armbands and the like, which will give specific bonuses like an extra 10 percent to your hit points. But there's no new armor or weapons to collect that we've seen so far, which certainly detracts from the gear-lust factor that drives many RPG players.

The quick-moving combat system blends action-oriented controls with a turn-based command structure.

Crisis Core is very possibly the best-looking game we've seen on the PSP so far, not just due to its beautiful CG movies. The in-game cutscenes are surprisingly well animated--better than we've seen in a lot of console games--and the character models here exhibit a nice level of detail (though the backgrounds are pretty sparse). We've been generally pleased with the voice acting too, though Zack's such an extreme dude we keep waiting for him to slam a Dew before leaping into his next mission.

The game is less than a month away from US release now, so Final Fantasy VII fans can go ahead and start acting all giddy like they're so wont to do. If you're unfamiliar with that seminal 3D RPG, you may find a much higher barrier to entry--but wait for our full review around the time of release for a full summation of Crisis Core's quality.

Discussion

358 comments
Leonhart1995
Leonhart1995

Wad a nice graphic man!!!!!!!!!!! this game are very cooool

kboy824
kboy824

This game was completely beautiful. Easily the best psp game out there. Even knowing how it was going to end, it still surprised me and almost made me cry. I never cry!! it's a must have

Aurora268
Aurora268

WELL I GOT IT AT BLOODY LAST!!! woot playin it since sunday wat a game!!! sheesh

Peppotheboom
Peppotheboom

Gotta love this game, can't wait to get it, I already pre ordered it, hope it won't disappoint, but i'm sure it won't :p

Cajun_Catfish
Cajun_Catfish

Can't wait! Comes out in less than 2 days now in Australia! I've had it pre ordered for over a month now, so I am highly anticipating release.

AbyssD
AbyssD

Realy good game ppl must hove this game :D 10/10

Aurora268
Aurora268

god this game still hasnt shipped over to the UK cant w8 lols. takin ages tho, all u americans r lucky :) and Japanese for that matter

gamefreak402
gamefreak402

this game is really good, i like it A LOT but the story is pretty long lol, i haven't beat it yet, but i've already experienced a lot of fighting in the game & its awesome.. so for all you people who plan on getting it.. get it! lol

crisiscorefan52
crisiscorefan52

this game is aweosome i already beat it and almost done with hard mode

ABOTALA
ABOTALA

when i will play it in english?

ABOTALA
ABOTALA

when i will play it in english

chillin666
chillin666

I've played it for several hours now. The mission system is kinda weird. You can follow the main story line or you can go on missions which take you directly to battles. The customization of the equipment and character is extremely lacking (so far). For the most part, the combat system has turned into a button mashing game. I mainly use the standard attack and hardly need to use any special attacks or magic. I can't seem to figure out the DMW system. It just kicks in whenever. The visuals of the game are great and the gameplay is smooth, but as a RPG goes, it's lacking. For me, I'd like to be able to choose the type of equipment my character uses. I'll give it a few more hours of gameplay and hopefully more options open up that allow me to customize the character a little more... just my 2 cents.

finalstar2007
finalstar2007

i pre-ordered this game and im getting it next friday , cant wait lol

akuzexion13
akuzexion13

I must get this game the frist day it comes out. It looks like one of the best games of my time.

King_wiL
King_wiL

Been playing the US version non stop for last few days now, its AWESOME!!! If you don't get this game you deserve to be hunted down...

sageerrant
sageerrant

...well, now I have to get it. I'd just finished reading when I heard a very familiar sound. I turn my head to see the Crisis Core commercial for the first time. Maybe not fate, but it worked out well enough with Dirge of Cerberus. Now I just need to find a PSP.

Star650
Star650

I can't wait for this game.

mingfu
mingfu

GOOO Crisis Core!!!!!! I always LOVED final fantasy games and crisis core is gonna BE SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Negative100
Negative100

hm, aparently my comp's clock is waaay off. well, its march 21st when i posted these two

Negative100
Negative100

i only asked for this for my birthday, which is tomarrow, so i know ill be getting it. BUT, i have to wait 3 days after AND i have to wait even longer for it to come by fed-ex! ERRRG, i think i have to wait till friday, sob

GatCloudX
GatCloudX

i preordered it and got a shinra umd case

crisiscorefan52
crisiscorefan52

watch xplay tonight on g4 they showing a preview of crisis core

Zerosumgame
Zerosumgame

I downloaded the trail version and now playing it! wow! I tell you it looks as look as the xbox 360 version!

nieuwuss
nieuwuss

damn you guys are so lucky haha

maverick8361
maverick8361

only 6 days left!!!! Then ill get a Ps3 hopefully in time for the remake! Final fantasy Is the best series ever!

IHeartCloud
IHeartCloud

Less than a week! I hope this is the end to the compilation because I bet when that happens they'll do the remake! And I think the end clip similar to the ps3 demo means its happening fo sho

radziolog
radziolog

please,,,, gimmeeeee !! can't wait :D

nieuwuss
nieuwuss

yeah your right Lumenadducere they should remake FF VII for the ps3 ... they would be stupid if they won't do it .. it will be the best game ever.. :Dwhat am i saying :P.. it already is the best game ever made

batman360
batman360

This looks awesome, I hope it has a long amount of gameplay.

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

I still think they should just re-make FF7 for the PS3 and get rid of this compilation stuff.

Azuki
Azuki

Funny how I love rpgs yet i've always kind of disliked the ff games. They got so boring so fast for me. :P Still I might check this one out.

Zinta-S-Kurochi
Zinta-S-Kurochi

It. Is. Worth. The. Hype. This is gonna be the PSP game that ends all others!

crisiscorefan52
crisiscorefan52

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why wont this game come out already

nieuwuss
nieuwuss

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

yungsean
yungsean

Does the fact that footfoe disagrees with the vast majority make his opinion any less valid? Absolutely not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not loving FFVII, just because most people do. He has an opinion and he stands by it. No reason to flame him for that. I respect footfoe for speaking his mind. And I must say, FFVII is not my favorite FF either. It's a great game, but not the best in my opinion.

nieuwuss
nieuwuss

damn when will it be released in europe:(??

chrisjarid
chrisjarid

hope there is an outside to the game and not just midgar. The exploration of the outside was my favortie part of ffvii. PLEASE SQUARE DONT KILL IT!

ZikenX
ZikenX

Must laugh at footfoe, so funny how he whines that one of his favorite games isn't liked as much as FF VII (Even though FFVII isn't liked as much as people think). Yay for newbs talking crap on games they don't like!!!

ryanmcg_23
ryanmcg_23

"Also anyone else notice Cloud and Sephiroth in that picture?" Quite.

Princess_Gamer
Princess_Gamer

I think I need to buy a PSP... My FF7 disk two and three dont work anymore. = ' - ( So i repeatedly play disk one over and over again. I can't wait for an FF7 remake. This might subside me until then though.

Faller88
Faller88

To bad there doesnt seem to be an overworld.Bout the discussion that (always LoL) seems to be going on about whats the best Final Fantasy.To each his own ,I personally despised FFXII ,but I can understand why some might appriciate it.(My fav's FFVIII by the way.).Anyway ,Crisis Core's seems to be perfectly created for nostalgia's sake ,which is perfect for me ,since those tend to be my favorite gaming experiences.(Makes me feel old though:D;))

beastmr2
beastmr2

Wow footfoe2, you just disagreed with like 98% of the millions of people who played and loved that game, I dont know wether I should kick you in the balls or give you points for having the balls to state your very controversial opinion.........guess since im not there to kick you, the points are yours......relish them.

deranged_pyro
deranged_pyro

anyone whos bagging FF7, like it or not, it basically revolutionised the genre...