I’ve made it no secret here or on Twitter that I am not a fan of the massively popular Final Fantasy VII. I will flatly state that I don’t like it and make jabs at the title to good naturedly (I hope) tweak other people. What I never do is explain exactly what it is about the game that turns me off.
See, I’ve given Final Fantasy VII at least a couple of chances to pull me in. I first purchased it, along with a guide, at Gamestop while I was in college. There was a deal on the guide when you bought the game, so I figured why not. Even then, I bought games before I intended to play them, so it took a back seat to some other games. Meanwhile, my brother played it up to the point where he got stuck trying to fight a serpent on the world map (he didn’t have a chocobo to avoid it), but wasn’t strong enough to beat it. Ultimately, he gave up instead of doing some level grinding.
By the time I got around to trying it myself, I had just recently finished playing Final Fantasy VI (from the PS collection, though I did play a good bit on a borrowed SNES cartridge), and moved right into VII. I never got out of Midgar. For those that don’t know, the game begins in a city called Midgar. You have to put in a few hours there before being allowed to move on to the world map. I never got to said world map.
See, first of all, I found the game to be very text heavy. Instead of doing a lot of battling, I was finding ways to dress Cloud up as a female. This didn’t appeal to me (not the cross-dressing part, the tedium of pulling these stunts off). It didn’t help that I found the world of Midgar to be quite ugly and dull.
Okay, ugly, but detailed…excepting the character designs.
That leads me into my second problem. This area of the game was just ugly to me. I’m on record as saying that games made the 3D jump a generation too soon, and that rings true here. I realize that the backgrounds were pre-rendered and I’ll admit that they looked pretty good, but when the characters and enemies were layered over those, the contrast was just staggering. Many times I’d find myself fighting an enemy that just seemed to be a pile of shapes. I hate to ever cite graphics as a negative, but in this case, they confounded me. Again, I was coming off of the sprite filled world of FFVI. The graphics may have been more simplistic, but they were detailed for what they were, and I never had to take on something that appeared to just be a pile of geometric shapes.
I still don’t know what this thing is.
I also think my first time through was tainted by RPG fatigue. FFVI is a long game, so moving straight into another RPG probably wasn’t the best idea. I almost always switch up genres when starting a new game for that very reason.
Anyway, I walked away from the game a few hours into the Midgar portion. It would be some time before I picked it up again, but I did pick it up again. This time, I finished Midgar and advanced about 15 hours into the game. I had the secret ninja lady character in my party and had managed to find out some of Sephiroth’s motivations, but neither of those things game me any real motivation to continue playing. I firmly believe that 15 hours is a good chunk of time to give a game. If it doesn’t do something for you by then, it’s probably never going to.
I think it was just after encountering a burning village or something (my memory is fuzzy) that I finally just gave up. Again, while the visuals outside of Midgar were better, I still found them to be very sloppy and lacking detail. I also didn’t like swapping characters in and out of my party at will. I was afraid that I’d wind up with a very under-powered character that would be crucial later on. Speaking of, it probably wasn’t a great idea on my part to be sure to keep Aerith in my party…
One thing I also noticed in my second attempt is that the I found the battle mechanics to be boring. Again, I still had FFVI in mind, and the sheer variety of what the characters in that game could do still impresses me today. In VII though, it seemed much more standard. The Materia element was a bit interesting, but really only served to remind me of how much I liked the Espers in VI.
Ultimately, I think part of my dislike of FFVII is the fact that my first true turn based RPG was FFVI and most people agree that it’s an amazing game. Combine that with it being my first, and it was going to be extremely tough for another game to impress me that much. VII never stood a chance in that regard. Make no mistake though, even though I poke at it to this day, I truly wanted to like VII. I forced myself to give it time in hopes that I would see what everyone else was apparently seeing, but it just never happened. Now, all that aside, there is also a part of me (a big part) that just didn’t think it was a great game, independent of what I played before or after it. Outside influences can only affect your opinion of a game so much and, after that, it really is just your raw perception. My raw perception of FFVII is that it just isn’t much fun and feels very bland.
So why do I rag on FFVII so much and avoid other games that are more universally derided? I think it’s because VII has proven to be very popular with many people. The more popular something is, the more you are forced to be aware of it, which, in my case at least, means a stronger opinion. I also believe that the more popular something is, the more divisive opinions about it become. Being someone that often reads and interacts with other fans of video games, FFVII often comes up. While I won’t be abjectly mean about the game, or make sincere insults at people that enjoy, I will express my opinion on it, just like many others. It’s just important to remember that this is all opinion based and not let yourself believe that your opinion is more or less correct than anyone else’s. No matter how wrong they may be in liking Final Fantasy VII.
Brandon Nicholson is a blogger for TMRzoo.com and the founder of Just Another Video Game Blog and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3 and PS4, Microsoft XBOX One and XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Brandon provides his readers with reviews, previews, release dates and up to date gaming industry news, trailers and rumors.