Final Fantasy VII Review

Never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII.

Never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII. The culmination of Square Soft's monumental effort is a game that will enrich just as it will entertain. Yet, for all the boundless praise it so rightfully deserves, Final Fantasy VII is not without its shortcomings and occasional design problems. These are enough to make some gamers (who are unfamiliar with RPGs, to be sure) wonder just why anyone would bother playing through it in the first place.

This is the most dazzling visual experience to date on any console. Film-quality computer-generated cinematics blend seamlessly with pre-rendered background artwork to create the strikingly realistic world of Final Fantasy VII, both beautiful in its grandeur and terrifying in its detail. The overworld and battle sequences are presented in full polygonal splendor with just a touch of texture mapping for good measure. But you haven't seen anything until you witness some of the more powerful magic spells in the game. Massive dragons heed your bidding, dwarfing your gigantic enemies tenfold; an earth titan tears the ground up from beneath your enemies' feet, flinging them aside like toy blocks. Some of these summoning spells cut to over half a dozen different camera angles as the catastrophe unfolds. Meanwhile, a masterfully orchestrated soundtrack - courtesy of veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu - is a major force behind the intense emotion of Final Fantasy VII. The synthesized musical score hearkens Final Fantasy's golden age on the Super Nintendo, consciously staying true to its roots.

Yet for all its top-notch graphics and sound, truly the best aspect of Final Fantasy VII is the plot that these peerless aesthetics help weave. Join the enigmatic mercenary Cloud Strife in a journey that will take him to the very source of his being in an incredible quest where the fate of the world hangs by a precious thread, threatening at any instant to be torn by the charismatic, tormented villain of the story. Final Fantasy VII's moving plot is influenced by some of the greatest works of science fiction film and literature, including Frank Herbert's Dune, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and even Godzilla. If you were to strip away the story, scenery, and musical score, Final Fantasy VII would otherwise be very much like any other Japanese RPG you've ever played. You still must face countless random monster encounters while keeping a close eye on your hit points and magic points, and you will witness your characters grow stronger with every experience level they attain. Battles are fought in typical Japanese RPG fashion (albeit with fully polygonal graphics), with your team on one side and any number of opponents on the other. You exchange blows until you or the enemy is defeated. Fights are made interesting with the introduction of Limit Breaks (devastating desperation attacks) and Materia, the curious colored crystals that let your party use magic and other special abilities. Materia can be found or purchased and mixed and matched to create all sorts of interesting effects. Best of all, there are more than enough hidden Materia, weapons, and optional plot sequences in the game to merit playing it through at least twice.

Some have gone as far as to call Final Fantasy VII the hands-down best game ever made. And if you enjoy a good Japanese-style RPG, chances are you will agree. However, Final Fantasy VII, for all its astonishing features, is not a game with the sort of mass appeal that its massive marketing blitz may lead you to believe. For one thing, you can't finish it in a sitting, as Final Fantasy VII will be a solid 40 to 50-hour commitment for the average role-playing gamer. Otherwise, you might be taken aback by the extensive, text-heavy dialogue; there is no speech at all in Final Fantasy VII, in the interest of letting your imagination do a little work. Though you will make many small-scale decisions over the course of the game, on the whole, the story follows a very linear path. This linearity is a by-product of the plot's complexity, however - certainly a respectable sacrifice.

Sony's translation of the original Japanese dialogue is direct and first-rate, much to the relief of Final Fantasy purists everywhere. Nitpickers may identify a very occasional spelling or grammar error ("Off course!" agrees Cloud at the Golden Saucer battle arena), but otherwise this text-heavy game reads just right, flawlessly conveying each character's distinct personality. Even the foul-mouthed costars of the game retain their affronting attitudes, as Sony went as far as to translate certain four-letter words in the interest of staying true to the Japanese script. Final Fantasy VII boasts several features not found in the original Japanese release in February 1997. Some changes are designed to improve gameplay: For instance, now your party members can quickly and easily exchange their Materia, where swapping the invaluable crystals between characters was a real pain in the Japanese version. Also, at the touch of a button, all exit points on a particular screen become highlighted with conspicuous red arrows - these turn out to be a real boon in those areas where the exits aren't immediately obvious. Further, random monster encounters are thankfully much less frequent in many areas of the game, particularly on the overworld map. At the same time, Final Fantasy VII is considerably more challenging than its original release. You actually must plan ahead and devise some sort of strategy to beat some of the boss monsters that were likely pushovers before. Other changes include the addition of spectacular all-new cinematics and a handful of intriguing, new plot sequences at key points toward the end of the game. These moments help clarify several important issues in the story. Square Soft wasn't just resting on its laurels these past six months.

The question you must ask yourself is, are you prepared to dedicate a good portion of the next month to take part in a powerful story unlike anything you have ever witnessed before? If your answer is yes, and you can approach Final Fantasy VII content knowing that it bears its genre's inherently problematic traits, you will find it be among the most incredible games you have ever played - or ever will.

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Avatar image for consolehaven

I can understand how JRPG epics have had such difficult transition to 3d. You're supposed to traverse such huge land masses and making a faithful reproduction in 3d is no easy feat. It'll be interesting to see what the team heading up the remake will come up with...

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I traveled back in time to post this comment.

Avatar image for matastig

<< LINK REMOVED >> Just came for the same reason, man such an old review ^^

Avatar image for SoraKH2_Mau

One of the most incredible RPGs ever created, the story is interesting, the characters are so likeable (Tifa is my favorite), the soundtrack is great, a very fun battle system where the Limit gauge is the best new feature. Definitely not overrated.

Avatar image for Tripwolf

One of the greatest games ever made. Shame that the series has taken the direction it has.

Avatar image for everson_rm

This, and Chrono Trigger, are the best games tha I ever Played...

Avatar image for mrzisawesome

Really good game... it's pretty easy too so it is great for everyone.

Avatar image for saosebastiao

Nowadays we get a lot of gamers that I like to call the "FF7 Overrated Wiseguy" gamers. Those gamers all follow a number of rules:

They never played FF7 when it came out / they played with Lego at the time it came out.

They never played a Rpg before 2000.

They don't like FF games (but like all the other JRpg's out there)

They don't "go with the Rpg flow"

This game is not overrated. If some of you can remember how it was in the olden days, you knew how good this game was. It was the cream of the crop. There were Rpg's before FF7 in America and Europe (Wild Arms, Suikoden, Vandal hearts, etc), but FF7 was the one that changed it all.

FF7 Overrated guys, if you're all playing Rpg's now it because of this game. Live with it.

Best game of the 90's IMHO

Avatar image for matastig

<< LINK REMOVED >> Hats off!!

A friend quest your way coming, add me or die! lol

Avatar image for saosebastiao

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I'll add you, but if you try anything funny bro, I'l be all like "Die monster, you don't belong in this world!" on you!!!

Avatar image for matastig


Well you better watch your back then. because i'm all about the fun.^^

Avatar image for Lynx_7

@saosebastiao Overrated or not is a matter of perspective. If you like the game and agree with all the hype surrounding it, good for you. For those of us who LIKE this game, but still think it's a far cry from "best rpg ever" or even "best FF ever" like many like to claim, then yes, it is pretty overrated.

Fact is, FF7 fanboys tend to be very annoying for the most part. Can't you guys understand that NOTHING is unanimous? I played Chrono Trigger before this game, and I think it is a much more polished and fun game. I played FF6 and 9 after this one, and I still think those two are better than 7. I enjoy the game's story and characters, but it really isn't everything people shape it out to be. A lot of the mechanics are outdated (some of those minigames are seriously bad) and there are some pacing issues. It's very good, but I simply find other rpgs to be better on almost every aspect.

Stop assuming everybody who doesn't agree with you is a hater, hipster or new to games. It just makes you look like an arrogant fanboy.

Avatar image for saosebastiao

<< LINK REMOVED >> I agree with you on the nothing is unanimous. Chrono Trigger is, for many people better than FF7 (not for me, but very close). But I really don't agree with you on FF6 and FF9. FF6 is even more outdated, people tend to say it isn't, but seriously it is a lot more than FF7; If it weren't for Kefka, people wouldn't have a lot to talk about the game. The character development is also shallow. Graphic-wise it just looks like most 16-bit rpg's. Chrono Trigger was released a year after FF6 and it's miles away from it.

FF9 is a better planned game (better 3D world, mini games and cities) , with better graphics, but the story gets dumbed-down when Garland appear, and the battles nowadays are very dated (they're slow and limited).

I didn't mean for it to sound like a fanboy argument, but many people bash FF7 because they played it after a lot of rpg's, and of course many games nowadays are more evolved.

Avatar image for parengthony

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I agree with you but for the fact that FFVII introduce the world the genre RPG is the reason why JRPG and other RPG's are now known. And if you try to ask someone who is the most popular videogame hero of all time, the only name that you will hear from them isn't Mario but Cloud Strife. And if not with FFVII, we'll never have this 3D cinematic scenes that's been copied through out the whole gaming industry and that's a fact.

Avatar image for Lynx_7

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I think FF6 has aged pretty well for the most part. I still think it has some of the most memorable setpieces and scenes from the entire series. The opera scene, the suicide scene, the destruction of the world, the phantom train, there is just too much memorable stuff there. The cast is one of the best ensemble cast of the series(a much better attempt at not having a particular main character than, say, FFXII), and the sidequests on the second half of the game develop them even further. Since most of the ruined world consists of sidequests, I would say it is the FF with the best sidequests of the series, since they tie in the story. The graphics are good for their time(not outstanding like, say, DKC 3 or SMRPG, but good), much better than FF IV and V, and a lot of other rpgs on the snes. The battle system does a good job of giving you customization (espers) but also keeping each character unique (their different abilities). The pacing of the story is also good, and the story itself is one of the most (if not the most) well done in FF for me, for its scope and emotional impact. I think it's all around one of the most well crafted FF experiences.

The same goes for FF9. All of the characters are charismatic, it tells a good story with a lot of references to past FF games (it is, after all, a homage to FF's past), one of the best worlds in a FF game with some of the coolest places conceived in the franchise, and it doesn't drag too much like a lot of FF seem to at certain points. I will agree the battle system is slow as heck, but that is my only main gripe with the game.

I understand that nowadays a lot of people tend to criticize older games and call them overrated just for the heck of it and some fanbases of classic games get a bit defensive because of this, so I don't blame you for sticking out for FF7. Being also a MGS and Zelda fan, I know that feel. You just can't forget that not everyone is like that, some people do have legitimate complaints about those games.

Avatar image for TheHaughtyMoose

@saosebastiao 1995-2000 = JRPG Golden Age

Avatar image for GSJones1994

<< LINK REMOVED >> We ought to tell those haters "Welcome to the 90s" or something like that.

Avatar image for ThatOneGamerGuy

Man, I remember when I was a kid when this game came out. My older bro was like 13 playing this all the time in the 90's and both of our friends would always come hang out just to watch him play it.

Games are thousands of times more powerful and magical when you're around 6 so that helped to make this my favorite game.

Avatar image for Naedeslus

Best science fiction story in a game ever imo.

Avatar image for RndmGui

This game brings back so many memories. The story and characters make this game so good. Combat system is basic but it works so well and still has quite a bit of depth. I'm pretty sure I've beaten the game several times, each time finding something new about the game that I never knew before. If there was a remake it probably wouldn't do this game justice. I still remember the reviewer's comments on the back of the game case, "Quite possibly the best game ever made." Indeed it is.

Avatar image for morgan_gibson87

Still the greatest gaming achievement... The storyline is very complex and sophisticated, dealing with, among other things, corporate domination of society, ecological crisis and the domination of nature, not to mention themes like love, friendship, sacrifice, betrayal and fear.. The game play is fantastic and the graphics, while certainly dated, were a marvel of their time.Just a great game in every sense...

Avatar image for Starsailor_IT

I am replaying this after more than 10 years. While I play it, it just feels so great and still after all these years better than any plot or RPG game available.. like Skyrim. Skyrim is gorgeous to look at, but the plot is lame and the world is just so incredibly cold and emotionless, its impossible to feel connected to any character.

Avatar image for CLOCKWORKIAN

<< LINK REMOVED >> Couldn't agree with you more. I have played and beaten FF7 at least four times over the years and plan to play the game again in the near future. I played "Skyrim" for only three hours before selling it. Square's original masterpieces have spoiled me in many of today's RPGs. I want fantastic characters that I can relate to and stories that have mature themes and deal with difficult subject matter that, at the end of the day, might make me see the world differently or help me become a better person. "Skyrim" has none of that. And I will have none of it. Give me the Highwind any day.

Avatar image for airman20012001

I just rebought final fantasy 7 and a playstation for me and my son. Time to relive some great memories

Avatar image for airman20012001

just rebought final fantasy 7 and a playstation for my sonand i, time to relive some great memories.

Avatar image for Setzera

I was never able to finish it, for reasons I'm not entirely sure since that was a long time ago, but I did watch my best friend and his sister play through it the same way they played through Chrono Trigger. FF7 was an emotional thrill ride and amazing game even when you weren't the one playing.

Avatar image for dexter_graves

It's hard to believe that it's been almost fifteen years since Final Fantasy VII's North American launch. I first played Final Fantasy IV in 1994, and bought FFVI a few months later, after its launch.In some ways, FInal Fantasy VII was a step back for the series. Combat lost some of its depth due to the number of characters your able to use in battle was reduced from four to three. And the game was much more linear than FFVI, which had a second half that was pretty much a sandbox. Still, the game revolutionized gaming in every way the review describes.The story was groundbreaking. Forget Sephiroth, Jenova is one of the most intriguing villains in Square lore and the game's real evil.

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Ah, the memories of throwing my controller at a wall each time I was defeated by emerald weapon...

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best game i ever played. ever.

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I'll never forget the true fear I felt when I saw Sephiroth's full transformation! What an Epic and LONG battle!

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I totally cried when Sephiroth skewered Aires.

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i agree with you man, it was so sad, to the point i wanted revenge on him so bad, i trained so hard just so i could kick his ass

Avatar image for ChiefFreeman

This review made Greg a legend.

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I wish I was old enough to hold a controller when this came out.

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Still a legend.

Avatar image for lorddaggeroff

Very easy understand why ff7 was best. back then nintendo had licenses to ff series but when people ravaged about limits at time, they were bound to 2d world, and people seem fine with that until square-soft embarked on journey to cd based platform moving away from nintendo, more data on disk. see you would instantly question space on disk now but back then nothing was comparable on jrpg game or game based in that category, square-soft would’ve easily been downgraded in 2012 if they concocted that now then back then. While i recall many pc games that rocked but didn’t have that investment since mostly independent developers were mostly on pc back in mid 90‘s trying to break in to industry Ff7 was first true game on console to really break territory’s and first to take risks that’s unseen in today’s world. while game may have been linear on 3 disks it was one journey you cannot forget. if your quoting now why you cannot understand games reason for being good then that’s fine but if you bought the game in 90‘s you also would understand why game had it’s focal point. Just when first person who played crysis 1 or first person who played elder scrolls or grand theft auto. now they are either easier to judge and applaud but no matter what!, games have their merit for being something more.

Avatar image for Spike1988

Just got a PS1 emulator for my PC and found my old FF VII, FF VIII, and FFIX discs. I've almost finished disc 1 of VII and am loving it so much. The fact that it holds up so well today is an absolute testament to how amazing it is. I remember the first time I played it was in 1999 and it was hands down the best game I'd ever played. And you know what? It still is!

Avatar image for Reno_501


where do u find a good working copy of the emulator and those 3 games????? ive been looking for so long :( also would u happen to know where to find a legend of lugia to go with those???

Avatar image for blee575

<< LINK REMOVED >> I have downloaded all 3 from PSN for ps3, and just yesterday i begun playing 8 for the 5th time (after that I'll go through 7 for the 6th time and then 9 for the 2nd). Oh, the awesomness...

Avatar image for BryanParksSuper

I'm still playin FF VII 15 yrs later. Im 30 yrs old now.

Avatar image for nate1222

The year that Final Fantasy VII debuted was a breath taking year in gaming as we know it. And FF7 made it all the more amazing. I will dearly miss that bygone era of inovation, experimentation and creative freedom.

Avatar image for SkamArtist

I was in high school and a friend of mine got the game and said that it sucked. He let me have it and I couldn't believe that he didn't like this game. I still play it now. I have beaten it numerous times, but my shining moment was when I beat it in less than a week!

Avatar image for Justoomuch

I will never forget the first time I saw the commercial to this game. I was 10 years old, but was completely captivated by the cut-scenes of the game. I received it as an xmas gift December 25th 1997. I didn't beat the game until April 1999. I had no idea how to play RPGs back then. With help from friends at school, I was able to progress and finish it. I had to have completed that game 4-5 times lol. Loved the story, Loved the gameplay. Best RPG ever made in my book.

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I just modded my pc version today.Looks awesome.

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Still a great game today : )

Final Fantasy VII More Info

  • First Released Sep 7, 1997
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 5 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Never before have technology, playability, and narrative combined as well as in Final Fantasy VII.
    Average Rating30744 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Final Fantasy VII
    Developed by:
    Square Enix, SquareSoft
    Published by:
    Square Enix, Electronic Arts, Eidos Interactive, SquareSoft, SCEE, SCEA
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes