Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - Reunion | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, January 5, 2023

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - Reunion | Review | Switch

Seeing the Nintendo Switch not get left out in the cold with the remaster of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a pleasant surprise. Of course, this remake takes everything from the PSP original and brings it up to date with a number of modern additions and a new coat of paint. But is the Switch version worth taking a look at? In short, yes, and we’re here to tell you why in our in depth, spoiler free review.

Given the serious tone of Final Fantasy VII, the story of Crisis Core does seem to start out on a somewhat lighter tone than its predecessor. In case you were unaware, Crisis Core puts players into the role of Zack Fair as he works his way up the ranks of SOLDIER and deals with a myriad of complicated problems along the way. I’m not going to spoil the story, but I liked what was being told here. It was interesting to see Zack change and mature over the course of the story. Not only that, but you’ll encounter a lot of familiar faces. While some of the dialogue might not be to everyone’s liking (it could be a bit stiff sometimes, in my opinion), the story here is something that fans of Final Fantasy VII should play through.
Crisis Core features 300 Missions that can be tackled throughout the experience. While going through all of these isn’t necessary to complete the game, there are a number of items, equipment, materia and summons that can help through the journey. Given the portable heritage of Crisis Core, these are typically pretty short and can be completed in five minutes or less (for the most part). Each of these have some kind of story element tied to them, but by and large are pretty similar when it boils down to it. Zack is placed on a map and tasked with optionally collecting treasure and then taking out an enemy. You’ll need to go through these if you want to level up Zack and your materia. Overall, I found the missions to be a lot of fun and a perfect fit to jump in and play for both short or long sessions. 

Gameplay in Reunion appears to be a pretty straightforward action RPG affair, but there are some additional wrinkles thrown in. Y is assigned as your attack, B as dodge and R as guard. Holding the L button allows for the use of materia that you can assign to the face buttons and R and ZR. Of course, you’ll have to keep an eye on your HP, MP and AP - spells will use MP while attack oriented materia (i.e. yellow) will make use of AP. Stringing AP attacks together with physical attacks will also grant extra damage to enemies if done efficiently. This aspect can be challenging at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be dealing out extra damage to enemies in no time.
One nice touch to the combat are “tells” from enemies. Right before they wind up for an attack, a red bar will appear over the enemy. This is your sign to dodge or block. I found this to be a great addition that makes combat a bit easier. Overall, things are a bit complicated with combat, however battles feel fluid, fair and most importantly, fun.

Relatively early on the in the game (in Chapter 3), players are given Result Bonuses. These essentially reward you for doing well in battle. For example, not taking any damage or ending an encounter with a magic attack or ability will grant these. Bonuses will refill HP, MP and/or AP meters after the battle and can even exceed your current meters. I’ve had nearly all of these doubled at some point, resulting in tons of HP, MP and AP to have for some of the more difficult fights, for example. Simply put, if you’re good at combat, you will be rewarded for it, which I found quite satisfying. 
The Digital Mind Wave (or DMW) is something that you can’t miss - it’s the slot machine-like element that is constantly turning during battles. This can provide a number of different enhancements or abilities. If the numbers line up in specific ways, they can grant Zack immunity to physical or magical attacks, invincibility, no cost for MP or AP and more. Special attacks featuring characters you meet or summons also appear. While the stat buffs don’t require you to do anything, the special attacks and summons require the push of X or click in both sticks (for summons) to carry these out. This system is almost entirely random, but it’s a cool addition that differentiates it from other RPGs. 

Of course, being an RPG (albeit a very action oriented one), a leveling system is also here, however, it’s not quite as straightforward as what you will find in other RPGs. Experience points are hidden from the player, making it a bit difficult to gauge when Zack will level up next. This might seem like a big deal, but concentrating material and just overall load-outs are more important in giving you the edge on the battlefield. 
Speaking of equipment, there is quite a bit of depth thanks to the variety of things available. Tinkering with the Materia Fusion in the game is also a great way to reward players with boosted stats. For players that enjoy customization or min/maxing your characters, there really is a lot to go through to find that perfect setup. 

Visuals, Audio & Performance
While it pales in comparison to versions on more powerful hardware, Square Enix has done a commendable job at bringing this game to Nintendo’s hardware. Character models are very detailed, enemies look great, environments are believable and the lighting effects are sharp. Even with that said, you will notice some visual downgrades in this version. Hair, in particular, tends to be a bit stiff (Sephiroth is a great example here) and can sometimes appear pixelated when looked at from a distance. While environments look pretty nice overall, background textures can sometimes take a second or so to load. The levels themselves are usually quite small and are often broken up into vary linear paths - a leftover from the original PSP game. 
It should be noted that the Switch version of the game is locked to 720p 30 frames per second in both docked and handheld mode. Despite this, the game still looks and plays smoothly and very rarely did I encounter any issues with frame rate dips. This can be said for both playing in handheld and docked. In my time with the game, I had around a 50/50 split when it comes to playing the game. Of course, visual issues are more noticeable on the big screen, but things still look pretty good regardless of your preferred method of play. 

Final Fantasy titles really bring it when it comes to audio, and things are no different in Crisis Core Reunion. The music is fantastic and the voice acting is more or less fine. There can be some instances of flat delivery here and there, but the overall quality is great.
Crisis Core Reunion is a fun game that is a perfect addition to the Switch RPG library. Missions and story Chapters are compact and the save points are plentiful, making this perfect to play on the go or on the big screen.. Gameplay may seem shallow from the outside, however, I feel it offers quite a bit of depth. Whether you are looking to blast through this Final Fantasy VII side-story or go hard spending a few dozen hours trying to experience everything the game has to offer, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - Reunion is a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a downgrade compared to versions on more powerful hardware visually, however the game performs admirably on the Switch.

Originally posted on January 5, 2022, 11:25 p.m.

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