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Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion Review (PS5) – An Incredible Remaster That Sets A New Standard To Follow

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion PS5 ReviewIt’s been fifteen years since the release of Crisis Core on the PlayStation Portable. The Final Fantasy VII prequel told the story of Zack in his quest to become a hero, much like his mentors Angeal and Sephiroth.

Crisis Core was considered a big release for Square Enix and is deemed to be a significant entry in the Final Fantasy VII saga. Still, with its limited release on a portable console and no digital version available, fans were forced to either buy a PSP and a physical copy of the game or find a way to play it illegally.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion Review (PS5) – An Incredible Remaster That Sets A New Slandered To Follow

An Emotional Story That May Have A Hard Time Finding Its Place In The New Final Fantasy VII Canon

Thankfully with the resurgence of the Final Fantasy VII saga thanks in big part to the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix has taken it upon themselves to finally release Crisis Core to a broader audience in an incredible remaster that sets a new bar for the industry of what a remaster should look and feel like.

Crisis Core is the prequel to Final Fantasy VII. At least, it was to the original PlayStation 1 release. With the many changes to its story that came in the FFVII Remake, one has to wonder where Crisis Core fits into the narrative now. It’s okay if the game remains a prequel to the original, but it may begin to confuse some players who have only started their VII journey with the remake.

Zach has become a fan favorite among franchise fans and seeing his story unfold left a big impression on me when Crisis Core releases in 07. Crisis Core isn’t just the prequel story for Zach, though. It’s the prequel story to Sephiroth, Aerith, and most importantly, Cloud, who tries to carry on the legacy of Zach in the original VII and now moving into the Remake saga.

There is a lot to say about the story of Crisis Core, but it’s one of the things that’s better experienced rather than talked about. For the most part, it carries a good pace, and players jumping into Crisis Core for the first time will quickly find out why Zach is so beloved.

Though you may know its ending, watching it transpire generates an entire range of emotions that brought me to tears the first time I played and has managed to do it again in Reunion.

The Writing Can Feel Cheesy, And Side Activities Are Repetitive

Reunion doesn’t change the game’s story and keeps every scene from the original. The changes come in the form of voice work, sees the talent from FFVII Remake reprising their roles here. Even though the voice work is generally good, the writing (which remains unchanged) is sometimes cheesy, and the delivery of lines always comes with long poses in conversations.

Crisis Core is a liner mission-based title. The game is split into chapters with optional missions that Zach can complete. Throughout the story, you can unlock up to 300 missions to complete that reward you with various materials, items, and equipment. Unfortunately, almost all of these missions require finding and defeating a specific enemy.

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There isn’t much variety in these missions, but some have brilliant rewards like new summons and items that increase how many accessories you can equip. Most of these missions are easy and take between one to five minutes to complete but grow in difficulty as you progress.

A Much Improved Combat System Feels More Updated Than FFVII Remake

Combat in the PSP version of Crisis Core was sometimes a chore due to the limited number of buttons on the handheld. Thankfully, Reunion has used this opportunity to streamline it with a better interface and easy-to-use mechanics.

Crisis Core also has an action combat system, much like FFVII Remake. Zach has the normal attack that he can chain for combos, but combining your regular attacks with Materia and special attacks is where the combat really comes into its own.

When in combat, Zach can use Materia on the fly. Simply holding the L1 button, you can select any Materia you have equipped with the four face buttons and the R1 and R2 buttons.

There isn’t a menu you must scroll through to select your following action as you did in the original. It makes things more accessible and streamlined in that you don’t have to constantly look to ensure you selected the option you were looking to execute.

Combat is also much smoother, with attacking, dodging, and blocking being easier to pull off without waiting for many animations to finish before you can execute a dodge.

The DMW System May Feel Too Random For A Lot Of Players

Returning is the unique DMW (Digital Mind Wave). A slot machine system rolls in the screen’s top right corner. This system is automated, and you don’t need to pay attention to it, but it’s an important aspect to combat.

The DMW spins with images of characters you’ve encountered throughout the story. If all three slots match a character, you get buffs and even limit breaks to pull off.

The DMW is the only way to pull off limit breaks and summons. As the story progresses, you’ll unlock more images to add to the DMW. As I’ve mentioned, if all pictures align with the same character, you’ll get the option to pull off a Limit Break attack, or a summon if the images are of a summon, such as Ifrit or Shiva.

Many people may not like this system because it’s random, and your chances of getting what you want may never come. The DMW also determines things like levelling up.

Sometimes you will play for hours without levelling up, and other times, you’ll level up four times in four battles. The good news is you won’t ever be left under-levelled for story missions, but you can quickly become over-levelled for them.

Another perk of the DMW is you get buffs that drastically give you an advantage in combat. Sometimes you’ll get perks like unlimited MP use for the entire fight or immunity to magic or physical attacks for ten seconds. These abilities give you a significant advantage, allowing you to heal yourself and dish out spells and special attacks without worrying about using up precious MP points.

A Visual And Audio Remaster That’s Stunning…Outside The Cutscenes, That Is

Visually, Reunion should be the gold standard of remasters. The upgrades provided here are substantial, and at some points, they can be on par with FFVII Remake’s visuals. Character models look great, and some environments borrow textures from Remake.

There were plenty of times when I was stunned at how good the updated visuals were.

Unfortunately, as it’s on par with other remasters, CG cutscenes don’t seem to get the same upgrades as the game. Though the CG cutscenes are still outstanding, it’s clear they are upscaled and nothing more. Just imagine playing a game in 4K, and then a cutscene begins, and it plays in 720p. It’s noticeable, but it’s not a game-killer.

Reunion’s soundtrack is wholly remastered, and I loved this remaster. The tunes here keep the spirit of the original but are remixed for a more classic feel rather than the hard rock that was first present. You may even hear songs that sound familiar to those who played FFVII: Remake, as locations you visit in both games, have the same tunes, just slightly different.

The Best Final Fantasy VII Spin-Off Just Got Better

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the gold standard of remasters. If you never had a chance to play Crisis Core on the PSP, you’ll find something special here as long as you know you’re playing a handheld game that’s now available on a console.

Reunion changes almost nothing about the original release. Instead, it focuses on making it presentable for a newer audience. The visuals make it feel like a new age release, and the quality of life updates in its combat make it feel like a game created this year. This is how you remaster a game for a newer generation.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on December 13th, 2022

Review Code kindly provided by PR

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The Final Word

A fantastic remaster of one of the best Final Fantasy spin-offs. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the definitive version of a game lost for fifteen years. With a masterful visual and audio upgrade and a combat system that, in my opinion, outshines Remakes with its fluidity and ease of use, Crisis Core shouldn't be missed; it's just a shame that the writing remained unchanged, and side content is just as repetitive as it was fifteen years ago.