The series of games tied to the Final Fantasy 7 title have been some of the most popular and beloved games not only in the Final Fantasy franchise but of all games released in the last 20 years. Originally released in 1997, Final Fantasy 7 had such an engaging and interesting story that two games and movies were made to build on it and expand the world.
Setting the precedent with the Final Fantasy 7 remake a few years back, Square Enix has made it their goal to retell FF7’s beloved story nearly 20 years later. To do this, they’ve split the original game’s story into three parts, with FF7’s remake serving as the beginning. Before we receive the end of the story with FF7 part two, we get a prequel with the remaster of Crisis Core (which was also the original prequel to FF7.)
Unlike the FF7 remake, Crisis Core has not been rebuilt from the ground up. It is important to understand that before going into the game, or this review; Crisis Core is a remaster of the original PSP game, not a brand new game like INTERGRADE. It features the same original gameplay and cutscenes as it did when it was released in 2008, with graphical updates thanks to Unreal Engine 4.
On the gameplay, I mean. The cutscenes look just like they did in 2008. Thankfully, they’re passable, but it might be a bit jarring in comparison to the new gameplay visuals.
This may have been announced before, but I as well as many others were surprised to learn this on the day of the game’s release. That being said, it was probably a lot to expect another brand new game from Square Enix so soon after FF7 Intergrade, but who knows; Whether or not Square Enix could have remade Crisis Core in the two years since INTERGRADE, they didn’t, and that might be enough to put some fans off from this purchase.
While nothing has changed, the “core” Crisis Core experience remains unchallenged. It was at the time of its release a beloved and very popular Final Fantasy game, that made brave and interesting changes to Final Fantasy’s combat system. For those who haven’t played it or are feeling really nostalgic, the remaster will definitely hold up to the original with some greatly improved graphics.
For those that aren’t, though, I say skip this title. While I say any Final Fantasy 7 fan should experience Crisis Core once, those who already have don’t need to drop the steep $50 price of entry for this PSP glow-up, even if it is an astonishingly well-done one.
One thing I certainly can’t abide by is Crisis Core’s price tag. I don’t know how much work went into remastering the game, but somehow I doubt it justifies paying fifty bucks for a game that was released over 10 years ago with a graphical update. This is a problem I had with Rockstar’s GTA remasters as well, but comparing the two doesn’t do Square Enix any justice — Crisis Core is a far better remaster than the GTA Remaster could ever hope to be.
Crisis Core still does the job it intended to do back in 2008, bridging the gaps between several characters seen in Final Fantasy 7. In Crisis Core you play as Zack Fair, a SOLDIER-3rd Class who wants to prove himself and join the ranks of his heroes, Sephiroth, Angeal, and Genesis in SOLDIER-1st Class. The story delves into the origins of the SOLDIERS as well as FF7’s protagonist Cloud, and answers many questions left by FF7’s original story.
While INTERGRADE makes some changes from FF7’s original story and the second part of the remake will surely do so as well, Crisis Core still works as a prequel, but you won’t see any of the seeds of INTERGRADE’s big story changes planted here. Crisis Core can be skipped without losing much from the FF7 remake story.
If you haven’t played Crisis Core’s original PSP release, I can sum up the gameplay fairly simply. Its an action beat-em-up with a roulette wheel that constantly spins in the top corner, giving you different buffs based on the results. That adds an inherent RNG to the game that I understand many may feel put off by immediately, but it doesn’t hinder the game in my opinion.
As far as gameplay goes, they could have picked a worse title to remaster. Crisis Core was one of the first of its kind to step away from the turn-based combat of classic Final Fantasy and fits close enough to INTERGRADE’s combat that new fans will understand it. However, my disappointment in the lack of a full remake definitely comes from the room the game has to improve.
Despite releasing on next-gen consoles with a fifty-dollar price tag, you are still playing a PSP game. Many of the side missions feel like they were made to be played on the go, with incredibly short lengths and simple requirements to finish. The whole game itself feels pretty short, especially compared to a modern Square Enix release that can run you 200 hours just with the main story content.
I can’t exactly call Crisis Core’s remaster a soulless cash grab, but it is adjacent to one. On the one hand, I love Crisis Core, and I have a great appreciation for how well this remaster is made. The polish is undeniable, but it is still just a polished version of a game that’s been out for 15 years already.
The Final Word
I have mixed feelings about Crisis Core Reunion. To the die-hard Final Fantasy fan who has yet to experience it or someone whose favorite game of all time was the original Crisis Core, I recommend it. But if you’re just looking to learn the story that came before FF7, you might want to look to Youtube instead.
Our Crisis Core Reunion review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!