I'm a hardcore Final Fantasy fan, going back to the early 90's getting into the series back on the SNES. I've loved the original Final Fantasy VII, through out the years, it always remained as my top favorite game.
And I can say, as a hardcore fan... This game. Was. Amazing! I loved the entire experience with this game!
I'm going to get into all of the good and the bads about the game:
First, and most important. The story. The story was an amazing retelling. It stayed pretty true to the original with the major events, while adding a huge extra portion of Midgar. I loved getting to further explore and see Midgar. This was a good touch.
Probably the best part of the story, was playing again a second time, and understanding the reasoning behind the ghost figures. Every time the story slightly derailed from the original game, they showed up pushing events in order to put it back on proper course. I'm surprised so many players from the original FFVII didn't catch this, and were confused by the ghost.
For Example. Cloud was let go from helping Barrett at the next reactor, and instead Jessie was to take his spot. But the ghost show up and injure Jessie, forcing Cloud back into the group, like the original.
Later in Chapter 17: Hojo begins to tell Cloud he is not soldier, which was to early for him to find out. Then the ghost appear separating Hojo from Cloud.
Every time events changed, they were there to set it back on proper course. It was a really good touch.
Materia Set up: I loved how they kept the Materia the same. It wouldn't be FFVII without the integrated materia into the weapons. However, now they added something else even better! The Weapon level sphere grid tree! This was incredible! I love being given free range to build a character the way I like. Being able to gain more power ups. And this was an amazing addition to the game! Lets keep the weapon level trees!
Dialog: The voice acting was on point. And the dialog itself was really good. I was laughing with a few of the lines in the game. They really nailed the personalities of the characters.
Cut scenes: The cut scenes looked amazing. This game was beautiful. It was a real treat on the eyes. I only with it had more cut scenes to sit back and watch. There was a lot of times they had a small 5 second dialog cut-scene and I wish they were longer. I wanted more interaction between the characters!
And of course the music. I've always went back to the old school FFVII sound track to listen to the music. It helps me relax. The music in the remake is just as good and relaxing!
The bad: (Even though I love this game! There are some things I wish were different.)
Not enough early grinding spots: It's not an old school RPG unless you do tons of grinding! Well until you beat the game and get chapter select to return to spots. There isn't a whole lot of early game grinding for AP. There are a select few spots early on. But until you get to the arena, there isn't too much.
Possibly to keep you from getting too over powers before a certain spot. After you finish the game and get chapter select it's much easier to return to certain spots to grind out that extra AP.
Too Linear: This is only a minor problem. But a lot of chapters is the game are very linear and lack the open world free roam that FFVII had. I loved in chapter 14 it opened up a semi-free roam potion to go between sectors 5 and 6. And as this game only takes part in Midgar, that is good enough. But I am hoping that Part 2, once you enter the real world, brings on the true free roam. Giving us the entire world as our playground, much like the old school game!
*Also, you need to keep in the Fort Condor mini game battle for part 1! I loved that mini game! *
This was a long review. But strongly expresses all my viewpoints and love for this game!