Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Isn’t Perfect, But It Still Deserves This Remaster
Square Enix has achieved the impossible and is finally remastering Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core. Now equipped with the ‘Reunion’ subtitle, this upcoming revival of the PSP classic will likely act as the perfect primer for those with no idea who Zack Fair is ahead of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and where it plans to take the original narrative. It’s gonna get weird.
He’s going to be a big player, especially given he’s (spoilers) come back from the dead after Cloud, Aerith, and the gang managed to reverse fate and change their collective destinies. Rebirth’s reveal trailer features Zack a number of times, with him and Cloud returning to Midgar after their once fatal encounter against Shinra to seemingly continue their lives that in previous iterations would always end in tragedy. It’s impossible to tell if this was always the case, or Remake’s conclusion saw this altered fate jam itself into the existing timeline like Back to the Future or Terminator. Time travel is the worst, especially when it resides within a JRPG.
Crisis Core is a good game, but I’d hesitate to call it a great one. It’s certainly an excellent PSP game, and pushed the platform further in terms of graphics and mechanics than most when it came to exclusives on the portable machine. It also fell during a thirsty time for Final Fantasy 7 fans. We had just come off the back of Advent Children and a selection of now extinct mobile games, with Crisis Core building upon the aesthetic, narrative, and ideas of this new direction. It was wanky anime melodrama of the highest order, and Crisis Core would double down on these tenets whether we came to like it or not. Many had mixed feelings, and it will be fascinating to see how Crisis Core is received now we’ve all played Remake and the series’ trajectory has changed almost beyond recognition.
When it first released in 2007 it was considered a prequel to Final Fantasy 7 and Advent Children, combining elements from both pieces of media before chasing its own ambition. The end result was almost surreal, with the cast made up of familiar heroes and new characters played by famous Japanese musicians. For years, it was thought that Square Enix never bothered with a remaster because the money required to continue using Gackt’s voice and likeness was simply too much, and it was easier to let Crisis Core fade into memory than introduce it to a new generation. It seems they worked something out, and a remaster is coming to all platforms later this year with updated visuals and gameplay.
I adore how all media outside the original Final Fantasy 7 has undergone a critical examination following the remake’s success. Hardcore fans once saw Advent Children and Crisis Core as small betrayals to the established canon. Despite their merits, they sought to twist and change an existing universe that so many fell in love with while also expanding upon it. Each step needed to be taken carefully in fear of backlash, even if the end result was often more than satisfactory. Crisis Core managed to turn Zack Fair from a minimal supporting character into a protagonist who could stand alongside the series’ greats. He’s brave, charismatic, and willing to help those in need even if it means hurting himself.
Seeing that explored alongside further development for the likes of Aerith and Sephiroth was a beautiful thing, and these elements wil likely play a pivotal role in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth if Square Enix continues fucking with us. The experience will be so much richer by knowing who Zack is, what he’s been through, and what he’s fighting for – alongside an understanding of his relationship with Aerith and how exactly this will impact the events to come. Otherwise, he is just a mate of Cloud’s who suddenly came back to life.
Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshinori Kitase have said that even newcomers can enjoy this iteration of the Final Fantasy 7 universe, and I suppose they can, but you really need some prior knowledge to understand some of the plot developments and character changes. Remake and Rebirth are, in many ways, pseudo-sequels to everything that came before them. The narrative is almost aware that this story has been told before as it seeks to reinvent what Final Fantasy 7 is without ever forsaking its own lineage. Crisis Core plays a huge part in that process, and for almost 15 years has been forgotten about.
Now it’s making a comeback, with hardcore fans and curious newcomers able to dive into a remaster that likely won’t hold up to modern scrutiny, but Square Enix is willing to forgive those foibles in order to provide us with a core piece of storytelling in this new mythos. It isn’t a remake, that much is clear from the trailer, but it’s been enhanced enough to stand alongside its contemporaries and remain an important part of this JRPG universe. It’s also coming this year, so we don’t have long to wait until Zack Fair Prequel 2: Midgar Boogaloo.
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