Genre(s): Action, RPG
Director: Hajime Tabata
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Console(s): PSP
Rated: T for Teen

Final Fantasy VII seems to be the new hotness with the kids these days - what with all the spiky hair and serious feelings. I hear the cries for a sequel, a remake, or anything at all ring out across the internet and it reminds me of a simpler time; a time when it was a different roman numeral that held our attentions: X. We all wanted a sequel to Final Fantasy X, and we all know how that turned out – not what we expected, eh? Point being: when it comes to the next iteration of the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix is spot on, but when it comes to sequeling an existing title they’ve so far missed the mark.

In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, we’re plopped into the wide eyed and enthusiastic shoes of Zach Fair, an up-and-coming SOLIDER member with big dreams about the future (and a whole lot of honor). To say any more concerning the plot would be almost speculation on my part since nothing anyone says makes a lick of sense. I don’t know what crack-shot B-team Square Enix farmed the localization work out to, but needless to say, cringe-moments abound.

Outside of hearing people ramble on and on about poetry quotes or what honor means, you’re mostly just hacking and slashing your way through one enemy after another. Playing out in a very Kingdom Hearts fashion, the combat here is simplistic and easy to learn. You can attack, dodge, cast magic - you know the drill. Also at your disposal is the ability to switch up the move set by equipping different "materia" which will level up and get stronger as you play.

The problem here is that, while it all sounds great, after a few brief hours with this system you’re left wanting more – a desire which goes unfulfilled. Crisis Core feels as if it has somehow has gotten lost in the transition from straight RPG to action title. It thereby looses the deep, tactical aspect of the former, while not completely picking up on the complex combat of the latter. Instead, Crisis Core startles a weak middle ground whose feature set runs out of luster far too soon.

I really wanted to like this game. We all heard Jeremy Parish from 1UP talk about how he thought the game was going to be another horrible FFVII flop, and "then it got good!" The problem is, yeah it does get good - and then it just levels off. For example, besides block, dodge, and the almost useless "dash" ability, I never had anything else to do in combat besides click on which materia to use next. Then there’s the materia fusion system – wherein you refine new materia from old ones – which really felt limited in its overall selection.

Outside of the main story line you have the option of tackling some extra missions for the various parties you encounter throughout the game. However, they’re essentially all the same mission – they each just look a little different. Basically, any given mission is a collection of rooms, each with an encounter, leading up to a boss fight. All of them play out this way with one exception: some just have you fight the boss encounter. (Those were my favorites.)

If you’re really looking for some more FFVII action then go ahead and add it to your queue on GameFly, you’ll love it. Otherwise, there are a slew of other RPG or action titles for handhelds that you could check out.

Graphics/Sound: 4.0 Average:

(2.7 stars)
Gameplay: 2.5
Design/Story: 2.0
Lasting Appeal: 2.5
Overall: 2.5
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