Final Fantasy VII

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Template:Infobox CVG Final Fantasy VII is a console and computer role-playing game released by Square Co., Ltd. in 1997. It was the first game of the Final Fantasy series to be produced for the Sony PlayStation video game console, and the first game in the series to be ported to Microsoft Windows-based personal computers. Additionally, it was the first Final Fantasy title to utilize 3D computer graphics, with fully rendered characters and prerendered backgrounds.

The North American, European, and Australian localizations of the PlayStation version were published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and the Windows version was published in North America by Eidos Interactive. The initial North American release for the PlayStation was criticized for its localization, which was viewed by some as awkward and contained a handful of grammatical errors. The Microsoft Windows port uses the same localization script, but several of the more egregious errors were corrected.

The game was a critical and commercial success: it received positive reviews from most video game magazines, and by 1999 the game had sold more than eight million copies worldwide, with about 3 million in the first 48 hours of its release. It was one of the first console role-playing games to achieve widespread popularity outside of Asia, and the ongoing popularity of the title led Square Enix to produce a series of sequels and prequels under the collective title Compilation of Final Fantasy VII in the mid-2000s.

The game incorporates references to a variety of religious and philosophical systems, reflected in character names like Sephiroth (drawn from the Kabbalah) and Heidegger (likely a reference to German philosopher Martin Heidegger), and place names such as Midgar and Nibelheim (both from Norse mythology). Additionally, several references are made to previous Final Fantasy titles, including several character names (such as Cid, Biggs, and Wedge), and the repetition of soundtrack motifs, such as the chocobo theme Template:Audio.

The game followed in the footsteps of Final Fantasy VI for presenting a world with considerably more advanced technology than previous installments. Considering the games appearance of early space flight, reasonably advanced robotics, automatic firearms, automobiles/trucks, and major global corporations, the level of technology in the world of Final Fantasy VII is synonomous with the late 20th or early 21st Century. Essentially, it is an epic story which could be associated with "real life" modernity.


Gameplay

File:FinalFantasyVII-Combat.jpg
A screenshot showing Cloud, Tifa and Red XIII in battle.

Final Fantasy VII is a largely menu-driven role-playing game. Initially, the player is restricted to the city of Midgar, but as the game progresses, more and more of the fantasy world becomes accessible, and the scripted adventure sequences gradually give way to greater freedom and opportunities to explore. At several points in the story, the game is interrupted by entirely scripted dramatic sequences, some of which are quite long. These sequences cannot be skipped or shortened, and require frequent player interaction for them to proceed.

During its turn-based battle sequences, the game uses the same Active Time Battle (ATB) system utilized in the three Final Fantasy games preceding it. Unlike previous games in the series, which traditionally allowed for a maximum of 4-5 friendly characters to participate in battle, Final Fantasy VII allows for only three characters to be present in the party (and therefore, to take part in battle) at any one time.

Final Fantasy VII's skill system utilizes materia, magic orbs which can be placed in special slots on weapons and armor. Materia allows characters to access magic spells, special commands, and a variety of other abilities. Materia can be combined in fixed number of ways, and strategic use of the Materia combinations can make many battles easier.

A feature introduced in Final Fantasy VI, the "desperation attack," reappears here in modified form as the limit break. Every playable character has a special "limit bar" which fills up slightly every time the character suffers damage in battle. When the limit bar is completely filled, that character has access to his or her limit break, a special attack which generally inflicts much more damage on an enemy than normal physical attacks.

Final Fantasy VII also popularized the inclusion of extremely difficult optional bosses. Late in the game, a series of enormous monsters called WEAPONS appear; the player must confront several of them through the plot, but two, Ruby WEAPON and Emerald WEAPON, can only be encountered if the player goes out of their way, and are very hard to defeat; Ruby WEAPON, for instance, can instantly and unpreventably kill any character with one of its attacks, and has over ten times as many hit points as the final boss. These WEAPONs only appeared in the American and International versions of the game, and were distinctly absent in the original Japanese version.

Story

File:Final Fantasy VII - Underneath The Rotting Pizza.jpg
A screenshot showing Wall Market, a place in the slums of Midgar
File:Final Fantasy VII Ending.jpg
A screenshot from a cutscene in Final Fantasy VII. Tifa (left), Cloud (right).

Template:Spoiler The world of Final Fantasy VII is economically, militarily, and politically dominated by a powerful conglomerate called the Shin-Ra Electric Power Company, which profits from the use of machines known as "Mako Reactors." These reactors pump a special type of energy, named "Mako," out of the planet and convert it into electricity. One of the by-products of the extraction and refinement of Mako energy is materia, a strange substance with magical properties.

In actuality, Mako energy is drawn from the Lifestream, a flow of life-force beneath the surface of the planet. All life originates from the Lifestream, and returns to it upon death. In short, the Lifestream is the sum of all the life that have ever and will ever walk upon the planet. The process of extracting Mako energy literally drains the life of the planet in order to make electricity.

Shin-Ra's management is concerned with the limited repositories of Mako energy available for harvesting, and are fascinated with the idea of a "Promised Land"—a place where the land is incredibly fertile and where Mako flows abundantly. Only a race called the Cetra, or the Ancients, are, according to legend, able to find it. However, the Cetra have been driven to extinction, save for one child, Aerith Gainsborough, whom Shin-Ra has been trying to locate for years.

The city of Midgar is a municipality created and operated by Shin-Ra. It is also the location of Shin-Ra headquarters and serves as the home to their nemesis, a rebel resistance group of eco-terrorists called AVALANCHE. The game opens as AVALANCHE hires a mercenary named Cloud Strife, a former member of Shin-Ra's elite special forces team, SOLDIER, to aid in the destruction of eight Mako reactors situated in a ring surrounding Midgar.

Cloud shows little interest in AVALANCHE's cause at first. By his own admission, he is interested only in the money. And after that stays only as a favour to his childhood friend, Tifa. Eventually, however, Cloud discovers the connection between Shin-Ra's ecologically destructive actions and a shadowy figure from his own past, a man named Sephiroth, a legendary SOLDIER, whom Cloud had long believed dead. As Cloud is drawn deeper and deeper into the three-way conflict between Shin-Ra, AVALANCHE, and Sephiroth, Cloud's identity and his past come into question.

At the end of the first disc of the game occurs a famous scene where Aerith( called 'Aeris' in the American version due to a mistranslation) is killed by Sephiroth. The scene shocked many fans, and has frequently been called one of the most memorable scenes in all videogames. (See also Aerith fandom.)

Sequels

The ending of Final Fantasy VII was somewhat controversial and open-ended. Many assumed the ending depicted the destruction of civilization (and thus the death of all the characters)- a rather dark ending, but one consistant with the game's overall tone. Others maintained the ending was too vague to draw such conclusions, and many fans assumed the game's present status quo simply continued after the ending. Such debates were ultimately ended when several sequels were released, on various media.

The sequels were:

  • On The Way To A Smile — Novelization of the events that happened directly after Final Fantasy VII. Told in retrospective fashion 4 years after the end of that game.

Characters

File:FFVII cutscene aeris.jpg
Screenshot of the opening movie of Final Fantasy VII with Aerith wandering through the city of Midgar.
Main article: List of Final Fantasy VII characters

The main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, Barret Wallace, Tifa Lockheart, Aerith Gainsborough, Red XIII (actually named Nanaki), Cait Sith, Cid Highwind, and two secret characters: Vincent Valentine and Yuffie Kisaragi. Sephiroth joins the party in a series of flashbacks, but he cannot be controlled or equipped. However, his status, inventory and equipment, can be checked during Cloud's flashback.

Important characters in Shin-Ra are Reeve (Head of Urban Development), Hojo (Head of the Science Department), Heidegger (Head of the Peace Preservation Department), Scarlet (Head of Weapons Research and Development), President Shinra, his son Rufus, and members of a secret police organization called the Turks (Elena, Rude, Reno, and Tseng).

It should be noted that Aerith's name in the original English language release of Final Fantasy VII was incorrectly transliterated as Aeris. See Aerith Gainsborough for more information. Later games that included Aerith as a character, such as Kingdom Hearts, included the correct transliteration.

Subsequent appearances

Final Fantasy VII proved to be so popular that several characters from the game have appeared in other Square (later Square Enix) games. Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, Vincent, Yuffie and Zack are playable characters in the fighting game Ehrgeiz. Tifa appears on a poster in Solaris in the role-playing game Xenogears. Cloud appears as a secret character (in a scene with Aerith) in Final Fantasy Tactics. Cloud, Aerith, Yuffie, Cid, and Sephiroth appear in Kingdom Hearts and with the duplication of Sephiroth, in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Sephiroth appear in the game Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. Cloud also appears in Chocobo Racing as a secret character. All playable characters reappear in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and some appear in other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles.

Locations

File:Final Fantasy VII Map.gif
Map of Final Fantasy VII
Main article: List of Final Fantasy VII locations

The world of Final Fantasy VII is divided into three unnamed continents. The largest of these three land masses, the eastern continent, is the heart of Shin-Ra's power, and is dominated by Midgar, the headquarters of the corporation, and Junon, a major Shin-Ra military base.

The western continent, meanwhile, is notable for its two major vacation resorts, the beach town of Costa del Sol and the Gold Saucer theme park. Several main characters of the game were raised on the western continent, as well. Cloud and Tifa lived in Nibelheim, a ghost town previously razed to the ground by Sephiroth and rebuilt by Shin-Ra to cover up the incident. Barret, meanwhile, lived in the town of Corel until it was destroyed by Shin-Ra in retaliation against a terrorist attack on a nearby Mako reactor. Red XIII hailed from Cosmo Canyon. Finally, Cid lived in Rocket Town, and Yuffie lived in Wutai, the ancient village of the Wutai clan of ninjas.

Finally, the northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated wasteland, and most of the settlements on the land mass are largely concerned with research of the Cetra, whose long abandoned city is situated on the continent. There are, however, a handful of other settlements, notably Icicle Inn, the site of Aerith's birth, and Mideel, a hot springs town. Additionally, in the far north lies the Northern Crater, where the energies of the Lifestream can be seen from the surface, and the site of the Sephiroth's "reunion."

There are also three Materia caves on the planet, and the secret "Round Island", which is hidden on the World Map. It is located to the far North-east of the world map. It can be located by airship, but can only actually be reached by a golden chocobo.

Musical score

Main article: Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack

The soundtrack for the game was Nobuo Uematsu's 22nd work for Square. Music from the game has been commercially released on an original four-disc soundtrack, a single disc album of selected arranged tracks titled Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, and piano-only arrangement of selected tracks. Popular pieces from the production include Aerith's Theme Template:Audio, a subdued and melodic character anthem, and One Winged Angel Template:Audio, the first composition for the series to utilize recorded voices. The game's main theme, heard on the world map in Disc 1, is over 6 minutes long. Several tracks from the game have resurfaced in subsequent Square (and Square Enix) productions, including Kingdom Hearts Template:Audio and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Packaging artwork

References and external links

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