There are a variety of minor tactical options as well—for example, you can move characters between the front and back rows of your formation. Your characters also have a "Limit" meter, which grows as they take damage and allows them to do a special attack when full. As your characters improve, you can set your "Limit Break" higher, so that the meter takes longer to fill but enables a more powerful attack.
To an experienced RPG hand, FFVII will be a little easy, but the upside to this is that there's relatively little grinding, especially if you take your time and build levels as you go. Also, you can adjust the difficulty by playing with the "Active Time Battle" system (a real-time fighting setup that traces its roots to FFIV). I usually set it to "Wait," because I find it annoying to lose ground whenever I fumble with a menu, but by using the "Active" setting and cranking up the battle speed, you can force yourself to make split-second decisions.
As you work your way through Final Fantasy VII, you change the world, meet a fascinating cast of characters, master a combat system, and take in a lengthy story. There are questions that remain unanswered, and some of the plot twists are confusing—but somehow, that only adds to the mystique. The original PlayStation may be primitive by today's standards, but this game treated it like a canvass rather than a computer, so the distance of fifteen years does not obscure the modern gamer's view.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that need to be said about the new PC port, as opposed to the underlying game. To be blunt, the port sucks. I had trouble buying it from SE's website, the game forces players to log in to play (which didn't work for me at first), sometimes you have to restart the game to get it to recognize previous saves, and I have yet to find a resolution setting that doesn't give me black bars. There are few added features aside from cloud saves and some lame achievements—you can't even use a mouse to select menu items or targets. I would recommend buying this for PS3 or waiting for the Vita release if that's an option for you.
But back to the game itself. Playing a "classic" title for the first time can be disappointing. The years are often unkind to video games, which rely so much on technology to impress us. Yet Final Fantasy VII has stood the test of time, and this new round of re-releases should do more than let longtime fans relive their glory years. It should introduce millions of young gamers to one of the best examples of this art form.
Date: August 22, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*