Activating Disappointment Mode (first impressions of Crisis Core)

8 Jun

I’m the guy that defends Final Fantasy VII. It’s one of my favorites. Yes, it was my first FF, but that’s really nothing to hold against me. Others (that typically assure you VI is the best) claim that people like me are unable to realize how much better the earlier games in the FF series are because we were tainted by the hyped up revolution that was VII. I honestly don’t believe that since I’m of the belief that good games transcend. My love of FFVII finally brought me to borrow my brother’s PSP so I could check out VII‘s prequel, Crisis Core. That love aside, my first impressions aren’t very positive at all.

So far, Crisis Core is a pretty bad game with some serious design flaws. Where to begin?

The first impression that you get while playing Crisis Core is that the game is an interactive movie. That is not a compliment.

Yes, the cinemas are beautiful, and its nice to have a good bit of voice-acting on a hand held (though the acting is quite bad), but when Zack starts taking out baddies on top of a train, you start to wonder when it’ll be your turn. When that turn finally comes, you’re treated to a screen explaining the controls that makes the game feel like a cheap demo. You mash the button a bit, and then the movie continues. You have no control except for the battles which consist mostly of button mashing.

Then the game shifts gears. You’re treated to basic cutscenes that begin and end with voice-acting, but are silent (like traditional games) in between. You get to move around and are given a few tutorials that are handled quite poorly.

Zack is a SOLDIER 2nd Class, but he’s been guided around and taught the basics by what looks like a minor grunt. Yes, the player needs to learn these things, but there’s no immersion whatsoever. Why they couldn’t have turned it around and had Zack walk a new recruit through the basics (but still for the player’s sake), I don’t know.

Also, I found it strange that the game has yet to offer any back story. Terms like “materia”, “Shinra,” “mako,” and “SOLDIER” are thrown at the player assuming they’ve played FFVII. While that’s a safe bet, the game still should have eased into these subjects with basic story-telling methods. Instead, we’re left with this bland, soulless introduction (aside from the main theme that plays before Zack is revealed) that is lacking grace.

I went on to the first mission which lacked any transition whatsoever. I button mashed through a bunch of battles, suffered through a lame, Resident Evil 4-style hole in the scenario, and came across the first of what I’m assuming will be many cameos of FFVII characters that should either have been handled better or not included at all. This brings me to a major concern of mine.

A game like this needs to be handled carefully. Otherwise, it should never have been made. Square-Enix insists on whoring out the Final Fantasy series, even after the abomination they created called Dirge of Cerberus. If these spin-offs were handled well, I really wouldn’t mind. As they are, however, they’re really depleting Square’s integrity in the eyes of their public.

When you extend a storyline in a way that wasn’t originally planned, you must work within the boundaries that the original storyline has set. In this case, Crisis Core must operate only within the world that Final Fantasy VII has created. Adding new characters is a necessary but difficult move to pull off correctly. You have to take into consideration the effects a new character’s introduction will have on the original storyline. Sometimes, you can add depth in this way. Most of the time, however, you’ll get the negative effect commonly associated with fanfiction: ridiculous leaps of faith and bland explanations for loose ends that were better off being unknown.

I’ll end this here before I ramble on any further. Obviously, I’m upset with how Crisis Core has begun, and I haven’t even touched on the random slot machine mechanic that constantly does whatever it does in the mindless battles. I’ll force myself to keep playing, but I honestly don’t see myself getting very far. 😦

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