After much speculation and anticipation, the PC port of Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade has finally launched exclusively -although for how long is anyone’s guess- on the Epic Store. Final Fantasy 7 Remake was originally released on the PlayStation 4 almost two years ago. The upgraded Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade was released on PlayStation 5 in June this year and is the version that the PC port is based upon. Intergrade comes with an additional scenario featuring Yuffie Kisaragi. Yuffie was originally an optional character on the original Final Fantasy 7 for the PlayStation One, something which is hard to imagine nowadays, given the huge popularity that Yuffie gained through all these years. The PC port of Intergrade also includes all the bells and whistles that a remaster of a remake -huh- deserves, such as 4K resolution support and a 120 FPS cap. Now, is the PC version a good port of a remaster of a remake? We shall see below.
The player assumes the role of ex-SOLDIER first class operative Cloud Strife, now a mercenary taking on all kinds of odd jobs to survive. Cloud’s first job is to assist the rebel group AVALANCHE in destroying a reactor in the city of Midgar. AVALANCHE believes that the Shinra company, which rules Midgar with an iron fist, is, in fact, destroying the world at an accelerated pace by using reactors to directly suck the very life essence of the planet. This life essence, called Mako, is responsible for all the progress and luxury enjoyed by the upper class people of Midgar, while the poor are left to rot in slums situated at the bottom of the city.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake takes a lot of liberty in retelling Cloud’s story by adding new characters, events and also a lot of new twists. As much as Square-Enix tried to replicate key scenes of the original Final Fantasy 7 faithfully, the new twists and events make Final Fantasy 7 Remake its own thing to a wide extent. This helps keep things fresh for fans of the original FF7. One thing that I particularly love about the remake is that characters that were kind of fillers in the original FF7 now have much more exposition. One character in particular even has their own backstory told in much more detail in new cutscenes.
Although the overall scale is obviously much bigger when compared to the old FF7, Final Fantasy 7 Remake retains the same linear, basic JRPG progression seen on the original FF7 and a lot of other titles in the same genre. The main missions mainly consist of the player going from point A to B while triggering battles, dialogues, or cutscenes. In fact, the main things that the game has going for it are its added exposition and fanservice. There’s a lot of it: Slow walking sections where the characters will comment on some aspect of the mission, casual blather in the mid of a mission or battle, and proper cutscenes -some of them completely new- where you only get to watch. That’s not to say that there aren’t other things to do and see, but unfortunately, the exploration takes a backseat when compared to all the cutscenes and walking back and forth that is mandatory.
The battle system was completely revamped to be more action-focused. There’s an option for a more traditional and slow style of gameplay similar to what the original FF7 had and also an easy mode: I think that having these options are essential for people who are not used to more action-oriented games, especially since FF7 was never an action game to begin with. Not to mention that when playing in “action mode” things can get hectic fast with the player having to keep track of a lot of things at the same time.
Despite having a full-featured combat system, with even a real-time action mode that may take a bit of time to get used to and be good at, the game doesn’t throw many battles at the player. Even in dungeons, there aren’t that many enemies to do battle with. Dungeons are one very important aspect in any RPG. Yet the dungeons consist of basically running, sometimes in a straight line, until the player seldom encounters a battle or a switch that they must activate in order to progress further. Another feature -or is it a bug?- present while navigating dungeons are tight spaces that you must crawl through very slowly. These “crawling sections” are a bit too frequent for my tastes, especially when the pacing of the game is already slow enough.
Thanks to the real-time rendered graphics and the third-person view method of exploration, there’s much to see and appreciate in the remake. The Sector 7 slums, for example, is densely populated and busy with NPCs talking all the time and going about their daily chores. There’s a lot of care put in rendering key areas and characters with a high emphasis on the main characters: Their models and animations are detailed and beautiful. Unfortunately, there are a lot of inconsistencies in the graphics department, with low-resolution textures aplenty and even the use of some ugly 2D assets: When navigating the Sector 7 slums, the plate that covers it and the main pillar that can be seen in the distance are obviously static 2D images. Something that I’ve never seen in a modern game of this scale and production value.
The quality of the PC port is barebones, to say the least: There are only a few options that can be changed such as texture resolution and shadows. They only have the option of high/low or on/off. There’s no option to choose the method and intensity of ambient occlusion or antialiasing, with the latter applying a blurry TAA solution all over the place. This wouldn’t be such a nuisance, in my opinion, if not for the stuttering and frame drops that occur especially in more crowded areas. Add to that a broken dynamic resolution “feature” that runs on the background and can’t be turned off, making the visuals even blurrier. As of the writing of this review, there’s been no patch released to correct these problems, so if you want to play this game on PC, you better get on Google or Reddit to try and find a solution to tweak the game to run and look the way it’s supposed to.
Originally composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Final Fantasy 7’s soundtrack is one of Uematsu’s most famous works if not the most famous. Back when Final Fantasy 7 was released on the PlayStation One, the music sounded very basic and simple and didn’t utilize the CD storage capacity for more high-quality and varied tunes. For the remake, Uematsu is back along with another now veteran Final Fantasy composer Masashi Hamauzu, and also a number of other less-known composers to make the definitive Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack… or at least, part of it since this game only covers a fraction of the original game. New compositions were also made exclusively for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. My favorite original track is “Hollow Skies,” but there are a number of other new tracks. In fact, the whole soundtrack feels new since it’s completely redone and heavily modified compared to the original game.
Square-Enix lost the opportunity to bring Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade for PC on a big note. They really started off on the wrong foot. Firstly, for the controversy involving Epic Store’s exclusivity, something that doesn’t sit too well with a lot of PC gamers. And finally, for the quality of the port itself. I’m personally a fan of the Final Fantasy series despite the drop in quality in the more recent titles, and also despite the decision of making the Final Fantasy 7 Remake a multi-chapter project. I really can’t shake off the feeling that I will die before this project concludes, or that it’ll be rushed to oblivion, much like this port, wasting a lot of potential in the process. Despite its faults, Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is an interesting and enjoyable game that’s only held back by its lack of creative game design, and in the case of the PC port, its performance problems. Still, I can’t help but be curious about what’s coming next.
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