Let me start this review off by saying that I’m a massive Final Fantasy fanatic. The original 7 is my favourite game of all time. I play it at least once a year, along with 8, 9, and 10. I have the FF logo tattooed on my leg, and I also feel a slight sense of worry about where Square Enix is taking the VII remake.
This sense of worry left me in two minds about the Crisis Core remaster. One half of me was full of excitement for an exact copy of Crisis Core, but with an even more handsome Zack. Meanwhile, the other half was worried that Square would make some massive changes to the story, or maybe even change that incredibly impactful ending… Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you newbies.
So, does Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion impress the optimistic Ruby, or does it let her down and make her want to retreat back to the PSP version for safety? Well, spoiler alert, she’s very impressed and may think Reunion is a very impressive, true-to-original remaster. I’m going to stop talking about myself in the third person now, sorry.
For all you folks out there who are new to the world of Final Fantasy VII, let me give you a quick rundown. The original game is a turn-based RPG that follows an ex-soldier, Cloud Strife, who teams up with a ragtag group of misfits in order to save the planet from an evil corporation, Shinra, who is sucking the earth dry of an important resource called mako.
Crisis Core is a prequel that centres on a very similar Shinra soldier named Zack Fair, who hopes to become a hero. This entry into the series is an action RPG and you only ever have control over Zack as he takes on foes and travels through Gaia, though you do get to see many familiar faces, such as Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Sephiroth, and more.
I can’t say I entirely recommend playing Crisis Core before completing the OG 7, as you may miss out on some fun little connections, and the ending spoils a pretty major story point. However, as it is a prequel, I’m not entirely against the idea, so if you do choose to pick it up, go in with that knowledge.
Now, onto Reunion. This is an incredibly faithful remaster. Everything that made the original fun remains, and the quality of life improvements only make things better. A tedious element of combat from the PSP version is something called the DMW, a bizarre slot machine-esque aspect of combat that frequently pauses the flow of battle to spit out random attacks whenever it pleases. Reunion fixes this somewhat by allowing you to store the attack and press X at your convenience to unleash it. You’re also able to skip accompanying cut scenes to speed things along.
Reunion is also fully voice-acted, though, unfortunately, as a purist, I’m not the biggest fan of Zack’s new voice. I’ve gone as far as changing to the Japanese version as I find him more than a little grating. Aerith, Angeal, Genesis, and more all sound great though – I just can’t get used to Zack’s slightly nasal tone.
Outside of my voice-acting qualms, all of the other changes are very welcome. The newly arranged soundtrack is gorgeous and the visuals are lovely. However, please don’t expect a next-gen experience, especially not on the Nintendo Switch. The obvious improvements to character models are great, and Reunion is certainly the best way to enjoy this story now, but the slight blur over everything and the way the light hits certain objects leaves little to be desired.
Another thing that screams PSP in Reunion is the way Zack moves. He feels heavy. If you want to make a sharp turn towards a treasure chest or save point, you’re not going to have a good time. I find he sometimes gets stuck moving forwards regardless of the direction I press, and I have to completely remove my thumb from the Joy-Con to get him to understand my commands.
Another divisive aspect of Crisis Core is the hundreds of side missions. Personally, I love these little breaks from the story. Taking on a thousand soldiers or blasting giant robots with my thunder magic is satisfying and the rewards keep me coming back for more. However, I will admit these can become very samey as there’s only so much you can do with a small area of map and a sword. Luckily, these aren’t absolutely necessary to complete, but I recommend them if you want the best materia and items.
If you do start finding these missions repetitive, take this top tip from auntie Ruby. I was ecstatic to find that, just like in the original, if you hug the walls during missions, you won’t enter combat. This means the time you spend plodding around these areas is cut dramatically, and it may be the reason why I quite like doing them so much.
Luckily for me though, I kept my expectations to that of a remaster, and if you do the same, I’m sure you’ll be absolutely delighted with what you find. The heroes are handsome, the combat is fun, and the story is equally heart-wrenching and humorous, just as it was all those years ago when I played as a teen.
I could continue gushing over Final Fantasy for hours, but that’s not what you’re here for, so I’m going to get into something very important that you need to consider when thinking about which platform to pick Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion up on.
If you didn’t gather from the headline, I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch, so I’m going to start off with a performance comparison. Now, on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, Reunion runs at 60fps (as opposed to 30fps on Switch) with a higher display resolution than the Nintendo console, which is to be expected. So if you’re a graphics purist, unlike me, then the Switch may not be the platform for you.
I also noticed a little bit of framerate drop right at the start which had me worried, but surprisingly, it seems to get better as the game goes along… Either that, or I’m just having far too good of a time to notice it. As for load time, it’s very quick. Some RPG load screens give you enough time to get up, make a coffee, and return to your TV before the game even starts back up. Reunion falls into the ‘take a quick breath before getting back into the action’ load screen.
If that all feels a little wishy-washy, I know, but there are many different kinds of gamers out there, and I sometimes feel in the minority. If you’re an old-school nerd like I am, this will scratch every possible itch you may have. If you’re a bit more modern, the clunky controls, repetitive side missions, and polished PSP graphics may not appeal to you so much.
So, should you get Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion on Nintendo Switch? Absolutely. Treat it like the remaster it is and you’re in for some good old-fashioned fun with a story that provides equal parts heartbreak and humour all wrapped up in a nice little bow. It also features my favourite cut scene in any game, you can catch a glimpse in the image above, but I recommend playing it solely for that one aspect.
If you’re a graphics purist, definitely pick Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion up on a next-gen console. However, I believe the Switch version gives you a more authentic PSP experience, the portability allows you to complete side missions while watching something on TV, and it still looks absolutely wonderful. Oh boy, I just really love Final Fantasy VII.