By Shawn Knepper
Staff reporter

“Final Fantasy VII” was released on the original Play Station in 1997 and changed the video game landscape.

The game featured a futuristic fantasy, a story of identity coming to terms with the past and saving the planet from a cold-hearted warrior with a god complex, pushing technological grounds and making the first 3-D Final Fantasy stand out. The universe of “Final Fantasy VII” alone was well received in making prequels like “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII”, a sequel CGI film “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children” and a shooter spin-off “Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII”. After 23 years, the call of a remake has been fulfilled and the reunion has finally come.

“Final Fantasy VII: Remake” is the long awaited remake of the beloved 1997 original. It is also the first part of the FF7 Remake project as the game’s director, Tetsuya Nomura, (Kingdom Hearts Series) aims to retell the journey of Ex-SOILDER, Cloud Strife and his companions on a journey to save the planet from Sephiroth, who’s on a hell-bent quest to destroy the planet and become a god.

While the story aims to faithfully retell the original story, that doesn’t mean that there will be some changes. The story of the remake, without any spoilers, aims to expand the original first half of the game, set in the city of Midgar and ending it off to the open world beyond it. All the characters from the original game, Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, Sephiroth, Red XII, and more to come in the second act soon

Gameplay is fast paced and intense. Gone are the traditional turn base that Final Fantasy has been known for and the game now incorporates real-time action combat that makes your attacks hit hard. Using material the games power-ups, has also return, allowing you to switch different material to use magic, summons, ect.

Switching between party characters during battles is very easy but your limited to three party members at a time and when you’re in a jam, you can send another party member to do devastating attacks.

There are side quest, but sometimes the side quest are there to make the game a bit longer and while it has it’s colorful moments, it’s a bit of a drag to get through. Also the camera can go out of control mostly because there’s so much happening on the screen Boss battles are the heart of every Final Fantasy game and Final Fantasy VII Remake does everything right, from the difficulty curve, learning attack patterns and their design, it truly feels you’re going against these larger than life bosses and happy to say the game runs very smoothly on PlayStation 4 Pro and the game doesn’t break when you use a summon so that’s great to know.

The visuals of the game are truly outstanding. We have come a long way from the original game’s pre-rendered backgrounds, polygon characters, but good state of the art Full Motion Animation (FMA) cutsence at the time, but here the world of Midgar is much more alive and vibrant.

Cloud, Aerith, Tifa and gang have never looked so good, and voiced perfectly, making the player empathize with their struggles, hopes and desires. And the music, my god, the music is fantastic. Just like back in 1997, when composer Nobou Ematsu, Final Fantasy series composer, were limited due to the PlayStation One’s technical limitations, they were still great tunes that changed how people view video game music.

Now with the Remake, the music is just as fantastic as the original, and some new tracks added, including a new song “Hollow” buy J-Pop artist, Survive Said the Prophet. All the great tracks are back and sound much more crisp and dynamic, tracks like “Prologue/Opening Bomb Mission, Aerith’s Theme, Those Who Fight, and One Winged Angel”.

While some fans may have their gripes on the changes the Remake has made, I can say that this is faithful, Part 1 of a Remake that will leave the player asking for more by the time the credits roll. While it does have small issues, the overall quality is what all FF VII fans have been asking for in a remake and I can safely say, this is how you do a remake of a beloved classic. With over 40 hours and two Blu-Ray disc worth of content, “Final Fantasy VII: Remake” is a love letter to all fans, new or old, and will have plenty of surprise that’ll leave you hanging. With that, I’ll give Final Fantasy VII: Remake a 9/10.

Shawn Knepper wrote this from his home in Winfield, Kansas.