Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Final Fantasy 7 Remake: The Hard Challenges Ahead

Most of us were astounded when the very much acclaimed remake was finally announced at the Sony E3 conference, but after all the celebration I know many of us started thinking about it and began asking ourselves "How are they specifically going to do this?". The question comes from the fact that all of the Final Fantasy games in the 90's were more about design and style than graphics, so if this is to be a remake... What hurdles will they have to go over in order for this remake to be as good as we expect it to be? That question sets a chain reaction of doubts like the ones you will see below.

Final Fantasy 7 Turn based battle

To be turn based or not to be?

The first thing that most likely passed through the mind of many fans is the fighting system. Back in the day Final Fantasy 7 was all about classic turned based combat, but in today's day and age Square Enix isn't so comfortable with it anymore. Ever since Final Fantasy XI Online, they have been transitioning from turn based to a more action oriented approach, only giving Final Fantasy XIII and XIII 2 a shot at the old school style just to turn it back into action based again with Lighting Returns. What Square Enix will do with a game as big as Final Fantasy 7 is anybody's guess, but if I had to give a definitive answer I would say that they will stick to turn based, but try to mix it up somehow or at least make it look fresh. They can't just go full action rpg on the game because then they would have to sacrifice a lot of depth that the game needs to be as epic as the original one, but hey that's just my humble opinion.

Final Fantasy 7 world map

Scaled world map or something more realistic?

The world in Final Fantasy 7 is really big for a linear game, but the way it is connected has a lot to do with how fun it is to explore. Back in the day, the scaled world map not only served for grinding purposes, but also for finding hidden events and secrets that ranged from simple stuff like finding a hidden item to whole scenarios like Fort Condor. Now the people at Square Enix have to be thinking on how to do this without it looking dated. They know that they need a way for players to go from place to place, but they can't really go fully realistic (or with a boring menu based system) here because that will basically slash away 30% of the game. I know that this is a remake and it does not have to be a carbon copy of the original one, but in this aspect they will need to be really smart or else they will break the whole thing.

Final Fantasy 7 Materia System

Materia system...Simplified?

The materia system is one of the most fun skill systems in any JRPG. It is kind of complex when you try it for the first time, but as you get good at it you will find all sorts of crazy materia combinations while you look for one that gives you an edge in battle. Now in the world we live in today, a system as complex as this can be a turn down for many players that could lack the time or patience to efficiently work with it, so it is quite possible that the developers of this remake are already thinking of ways to re-engineer the materia system in order to cater to both the fans and curious new players. There is also a chance that the system will be split in two, with the original version for fans of the game and a simpler version for anybody that feels like the materia system is too complex for them. A third and very distinct possibility is to re-make the whole system, but I personally see that as very unlikely.

Final Fantasy 7 Junk Heap Dungeon

Is dungeon complexity at risk?

One of the best things in Final Fantasy 7 was how good the dungeon and explorations parts where. From climbing through a mountain of junk and storming into a giant government building, to a Japanese styled tower and even a running train in a collision path, the way in which we experienced all of these places was very dynamic and had a lot of essence to it because they all were unique. Now the problem begins when translating all of those places from pre-rendered environments to full 3D ones. Will we be able to explore Don Corneo's mansion at will, peeping into every room? (Don't look at me like that, I know everybody will do that). Will we be able to invade the Shinra building in the same way we did in the original game with all the different paths and details to find? Will exploration in dungeons and places be as good as the original or will we find ourselves running through generic versions of these places? Square Enix has to give a lot of attention to this issue because it is not only about looking pretty, but also feeling like we are playing through a broader and enhanced version of the memorable places we used to know.

Final Fantasy 7 Golden Saucer

Are mini games and micro events at risk?

Final Fantasy games in the 90's were linear yes, but they had such a great variety of micro events and small stuff to do that they almost felt like they weren't. So how can Square Enix bring this to the remake? I know we are all hoping that they do so just like they did back then in the Square Soft days, but there's a possibility that they could take the lazy path and just throw a bunch of QTE events which is scary for any Final Fantasy fan out there and even more so when such a big game like this has a 2017 release date. Will they be hard pressed to sacrifice some of the awesome stuff that mini games and micro events added to the game or will they grind up, rise to the challenge and give us all the neat stuff? That my friends, is just a matter how much they want this game to succeed.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake E3 2015

Wrapping it up

Will these challenges be conquered? Nobody knows...

The Final Fantasy 7 remake shows a lot of promise and has put all of our imaginations to work, but we also have to be aware that this is a big time production and a very long game. Let's just hope that they have been working on this for a long while now, or at least enough for it to be as loyal to the original as possible while giving us that little extra that the original couldn't on the technology we had back then. For now let's just hope and see because if the house of Final Fantasy does well in all of the previously mentioned challenges, we will be well on our way to one of the most epic games ever.

Bonus Stage!

Here I share you people, a video made by a friend of mine with his impressions of the FF7 remake reveal. It's really simple, but straight to the point.

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