A remake of Final Fantasy VII is something fans have been talking about for so long now. My first reaction, upon hearing the news, was to assume that Square-Enix was trolling us because they’ve done it before, when they recreated the opening sequence of the game as a tech demo for the PlayStation 3. But it’s really real and most likely will be released in 2017, the twentieth anniversary of the game.
How you even begin to go about remaking a game like this is tricky and it’s important to understand what Square-Enix mean by the word ‘remake’. Presumably if this was just a graphical upgrade they would call it a ‘remaster’. Instead, the word ‘remake’ implying that while the story, characters and overall events of the game will be the same, how the gamer experiences them will be very different because of changes in technology. I think if I was to choose the word I wanted to define this game, it would be ‘expansion’, because whenever I think about what I would like to see in this game, the answer is always: more.
- More of Midgar. The scale of that city was incredible and the power of its reveal the first time I watched the opening sequence has never left me. But really, we explore very little of it beyond a few small sections of sector five and seven. Getting to see more of the city and then seeing the detestation caused to it over the course of the game could be done more effectively now.
- More towns. In terms of late Nineties standards, there was a lot of places to visit, but a lot has changed in games since then. There are more cities, towns, encampments and other gatherings of people in one corner of Skyrim than there is in the whole of Final Fantasy VII’s world. I would like to see more towns, as well as an expansion of the towns we already know, and meet more people, both those who have been affected by Shinra and those who have not.
- More side quests. The fight against Shinra doesn’t have to always be a direct one. It could also take the form of side quests in which our group take back towns from the Shinra or work to repair some of the damage done environmentally as well as to the people. We saw Shinra destroying towns and ruining people’s lives, but we never saw much of an effort to help them, beyond the main story line.
- More exploration. Final Fantasy VII was the first game I played where it felt like there was a real reward to exploring the world. You got to find each characters final Limit Breaks and powerful Summons. Chocobo breeding would be fun, but perhaps introduced earlier to allow for faster travel than on foot.
- More of Yuffie and Vincent. Square gave Vincent a history that directly tied into Sephiroths history then made him an optional character – hardly their brightest idea. And Yuffie had the potential to grow from reckless and immature to someone you could count on to have your back when shit went down, but was forgotten about once her side quest was completed. I’d like to see these characters get the attention they deserve.
- More for the secondary characters. There’s no reason why each member of the team cannot be given more to do, be that main story elements, major side quests or just smaller things that flesh them out or let the gamer spend some more time with a character they like. Getting to know Cid, as well as developing his relationship with Shera, would be nice. A deeper look at Barret’s realisation that not all of his early actions were the right way to go about solving the problem of Shinra would be interesting. And while we’re on the subject of secondary characters…
- More of Reeve. Less of Cait Sith. I despise the latter, but Reeve could have been an interesting character, someone who starts of as a spy and over time becomes an ally. Once it was found out that Cait Sith was a spy, then Reeve should have become the focus, not a puppet cat riding a stuffed Moogle.
I would also like to see an expansion of the Materia system beyond what we got in the original game. Simply finding some Materia and equipping it to gain XP feels a bit hollow now. Perhaps incorporating elements of Crisis Core: FInal Fantasy VII’s Materia system, in which Materia could be fused together in order to create new kinds could be considered.
The combat system also needs an overhaul. I really don’t want them to move away from the turn-based style of Final Fantasy games of this time as I really hate the MMO style which is still very popular. Characters being in a specific spots meant that some subtle but effective camera work made the battles exciting and visually entertaining. Turn based combat doesn’t get much love these days, from what I can see, so it would be nice to have a big game like this remind people of how good it can be. I would also like to see each characters bring more unique abilities to combat. Outside of Limit Breaks, all the characters can do much of the same thing if you have enough Materia. Final Fantasy X was diabolical, but the combat was good and each character brought something different to the fight. It would be great if the developers could be mindful of this.
Lastly, they will probably end up rewriting huge chunks of the script, if not all of it. Hopefully they will employ some script supervisors to look out for continuity issues this time so that Vincent is not surprised to learn things he has already told the rest of the characters. Having English speakers proof read it would also be much appreciated. Final Fantasy VII has some infamous grammatical errors, be them just incorrect tenses, such as ‘This guy are sick’ to bigger stuff that potentially messes with the decisions you make in battle.