I remember where I was in 1997 when Final Fantasy VII came out; after spending months seeing Final Fantasy VII adverts on TV I just needed to have it. I grew up with Final Fantasy and I had a shiny new PlayStation and only a couple games for it so I was itching to get something more. Midsummer, mom and I were out shopping and as any good teenager does, dragged her through the toys section to check out any merchandise that the store might have. Behind this tiny counter was a locked glass display with some neat things like the box, a t-shirt, and the official player’s guide for Final Fantasy, along with a couple words many gamers tend to despise these days … “Preorder today.”
You bet your ass I preordered it; it was the first game I had ever pre-ordered and I felt no shame in plunking down upwards of $80 for a shirt, the game, and the guide. I then had to spend the next few months eagerly awaiting the release. That was hell, but I got through it and was there at 10 AM the day it released (I was “sick” that day), took it home and spent a long weekend exploring the world Gaia with Cloud and the crew. I was floored, funky hands, goofy translations, I absolutely loved it, even if it wasn’t the strongest title in the franchise, I was hooked.
In 2015, nearly two decades after its initial release, Square Enix released the trailer for the Remake, something they had said they weren’t going to do, and the internet went wild. Fast forward another 5 years and a scant month before release, Square releases the demo and I was unsure if I was going to play it or not and finally caved one bored day a week before release. I tossed between wanting to get in and play and not wanting to spoil anything, but alas, I caved and fired it up.
I’m not so sure I should have.
For one, it’s actually spectacular; throughout the short demo (it can be beaten in about an hour) I got some interesting vibes. For one, I kept getting the same feeling I did while playing The Witcher 3; that there is this deep, open world full of exciting yet mature overtones (and that is all from an extremely small slice of the opening act). I was pleasantly surprised that they gave Cloud an actual personality, and really, Square absolutely nailed it with Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie (she’s Best Girl; Aerith/Aeris and Tifa can go stand in a corner – fight me!). I am a bit off-put by Barrett’s voice acting, not because John Eric Bentley isn’t fantastic and fitting for the role, but because I have this mind-canon that Barrett would sound more like Beau Billingslea (who is exactly who I “heard” in later years when replaying Final Fantasy), and because I hear a different voice than what I’m expecting, it sends some weird signals. That’s more my issue than an issue with the game though, and I do have an issue, a pretty big one actually …
The camera angles. They’re horrific. In the demo you’ll fight enemies that are on different “planes” than you, often being higher because they are large or they are flying, and you can’t see the damn thing. I was immediately reminded of the extra-strength garbage called a ‘camera angle’ in Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order and that was not a good sign; while Fallen Order was mediocre at best, it’s camera was on par with Castlevania 64 and Bubsy 3D, and those are considered some of the worst camera angles in gaming, so I have some severe concerns. In replaying the demo I think a part of it is the field of view plus the fact that regardless of how close or far the camera is from Cloud, it’s field of view for your locked target never changes and it artificially increases the difficulty via bad design. Fortunately there’s time to change that element, or it’s possible that the full release’s settings allow you to chance camera behavior or fields of view.