"Embrace your dreams...if you wish to become a Hero, you must have dreams." - Angeal
I did indeed mention that I am still playing the game, and so far I've clocked in about 110 hours worth of gameplay, because it's replay values are extremely high. After you beat the game, you are given the chances to keep all stats, items, and materia and start over and play from the beginning. Jumping too far ahead into my review, now let's back track a bit.
We all(or some) remember Final Fantasy VII as being the, or one of the GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME, being on par with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Not only that, FF7 was the first game to do many things that other games never did at the time, and in fact it still have many great elements that not even modern games still don't have. Reason why it was so good, was because of how well developed and well driven story it was, even making many gamers cry, including myself. Having a good story, well developed characters, fun mini games, great use of graphics(at the time), great gameplay, and so much more made FF7 an icon of its own in the world of video games.
Now that was FF7, about 8 or 9 years later Square spawns a movie, which was a huge success, as well as many other spin offs, calling it a Compilation. The spin offs included of, of course the movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, the PS2 game based on Vincent, and Before Crisis, the prequel game even before Crisis Core, that was released for mobile phones. And now, Square had decided to give the Compilation one more push, re-creating, and filling in the blanks of the FF7 world by bringing us Crisis Core, the game that retells and explains how Cloud's present existence came to be, how all the conflict began; and most importantly, the life of Zack.
Those who've played FF7 will recognize many things in Crisis Core. Many familiar faces will be in presence as well as new ones like Angeal and Genisis, and many familiar locations are recreated for a new walk through as Zack, including the slums, Aerith's church, Mako Reactors, the Shinra Building and Mansion, and so on. He starts off as a SOLDIER 2nd Class, and eventually moves up, doing various missions and operations as the game and story progresses. Having the story revolving around Zack, you'll come to notice how Zack changed the lives of many people in FF7. An example of this(not to spoil too much), that you'll find in Crisis Core that it was Zack who gave the name Seventh Heaven to a carpenter who planned on building a bar with a secret underground basement with the use of an arcade machine as an elevator, also having the hopes of a hot babe to run the bar(Tifa). Also, we come to recognize Zack as being Aerith's first love due to minor hints from the game 10 years ago, and a great couple they are indeed. Aside from that, Zack eventually runs into many obstacles, such as betrayals and trust between friendship and honor, especially with his mentor Angeal, the original wielder of the Buster Sword.
A game filled with drama and action cannot come to be without great gameplay. The gameplay in Crisis Core is great, but nothing too new. It's still fun, and plays like a hack and slash when encountering with enemies in battle. Many reviews will say that it is very similar to the Kingdom Hearts battle system, and they are indeed correct. You choose your commands by using the shoulder buttons, which are really nice and don't get in the way. You can move freely in the battle up to certain boundaries and attack, dodge, and block attacks by your own free will, like a fighting games let's say. Your materias are back as well ,and work fairly similar to the previous game(s). The game is created in linear areas and levels, so you are either choosing paths to go, are just going straight forward through one path. Enemy encounters are random, and for the most part they are easy, unless if they are doing massive or multiple damage and effect magic that either silence or poison you, or if they dominate by numbers. Boss battles will happen more likely at the end of each Chapter, which is what the game is split into.
In between areas of a level, there are many save points, which was a great choice mainly because this was a hand held game and many people would more likely play it periodically during the day. There are also cutscenes as well with spectacular voice overs, well for the Japaneses version anyways. Most cutscenes are done in realtime, but when there are pre-rendered cutscenes, man it is a great treat.
Overall, this is the BEST GAME for PSP and it tops God of War: Chains of Olympus in my opinion, and it is the reason why anyone bought a PSP. FF7 fans ready to shed more tears will indeed play for the ending, and I will not spoil it, even though we do know what the outcome of Zack's life will be, and how Cloud carries a grudge on it. This game has great visuals that pushes the PSP hardware to its limit, and can even be considered better than PS2 graphics. Production values are at its best, and they nail it once again on the storyline. Though the game is not perfect and will not get much of a praise as to the original FF7, it will satisfy many, even non FF7 fans. Many blank spots are filled in this game, especially the secret ending of Dirge of Cerberus, and the past of FF7 are all revealed, but not concluding the Compilation yet...yes, that's a minor spoiler for you all...the Compilation of FF7 is not over yet...expect that dreamed remake, or a sequel of events after Dirge of Cerberus. Hope many of you enjoy the game, and thanks for reading.