Crisis Core is one of the most important chapters in the Final Fantasy VII storyline, but it went under the radar because it only appeared on Sony’s PSP. With development on Final Fantasy VII Rebirth in full swing, Square Enix treats to a modern remaster of that old handheld game. An excellent move.
Crisis Core is a prequel and tells the story of Zack Fair, a brawler in the Soldier Division of the Shinra Electric Power Company. The young man fights side by side with the famous Sephiroth, but during the adventure also learns the bitter secret behind the Super Strength of the Soldier units. The result is a gripping story that reinforces the motives of countless characters from the later Final Fantasy VII chapters.
Not a remake, but a remaster
Unlike Final Fantasy VII Remake, this Crisis Core Reunion is a remaster. For example, the title received an excellent graphical update, but the rest remained largely unchanged. The environments look a lot nicer, but it’s especially nice to see old characters in a new jacket.
Yet this Crisis Core does not reach the level of the Final Fantasy VII remake. For example, the animations and facial expressions are taken from the 2007 PSP game and look quite outdated. Fortunately, that is not really disturbing, because the message is still clear. But it does betray the age of this Crisis Core.
Striking: all dialogues have been completely re-recorded by the new cast of the remakes. Even scenes that were not previously voiced are now provided with voice-overs. All actors do a decent job, but the game also betrays its origins here. The concise dialogues were custom written for a handheld and are quite compact. Here and there the script adjusted slightly, but could have been a bit more nuanced.
Kudos for the CGI cutscenes. They were remastered for the current generation of consoles and, despite their age, remain strong. The epic training battle between Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth in particular still looks fantastic. The soundtrack remained largely unchanged. Not bad, because it is impressive and perfectly captures the gloomy melodrama of the title.
Crisis Core’s combat is largely unchanged, although Zack’s movements are slightly more agile and fluid in this modern version. For some visual effects (read: flying sparks), the game borrows from the Remake, but all in all, Zack can now handle the Buster Sword just as well as Cloud. Cool is the addition of the Punisher Mode from Remake, which allows Zack to unleash a devastating combo from a defensive position.
What gives Crisis Core’s battles an extra something is the Digital Mind Wave (DMW) roulette or the Limit Break system. That is a slot machine that gives you a power-up, Limit Break or Summon depending on the number or portrait combination. There are even some options added for this remaster. The Limit Breaks are now all cool finishers and thanks to the renewed CGI scenes, the summons also look badass. Sure, Zack can hold his own without all that help, but the DMW system always adds some nice surprises.
One of the coolest features in Crisis Core is undoubtedly Materia Fusion, which allows you to merge two existing Materia into one more powerful one with remarkable results. Often the way to make Zack stronger, because a thoughtful merger not only gives the warrior new skills, but also higher statistics. For example, you can combine Poison with Fire for a Dark Fire. The spell sets your enemies ablaze, but also seals their special powers.
Another cool feature of the game are the Missions, which you can start from a save point. Those are short assignments, which often give you access to all kinds of extra items and Materia. Those who want to specialize in Materia Fusion need a lot of the crystal balls. And that is where the missions often offer solace. Although the missions are also an extra source of income or even useful training if you notice that the monsters of the story missions are getting a little too strong.