December 17th, 2006, 23:15 Posted By: wraggster
Article from IGN
Shocker from this year's Jump Festa. Remember the PSP entry in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series? You know, the one that's known officially as "CC," or "Crisis Core," but is often referred to as "VW," or "Vaporware"? It's very real. And it's going to make you look at Sony's portable gaming system in a whole new way!
Square Enix debuted the first playable version of Crisis Core at the Jump Festa event in Tokyo this weekend. IGN braved the hour wait to see what the two years of near silence has been about. We walked away with a limited edition Crisis Core PSP case and the conviction that Square Enix's programmers have unlocked new powers hidden deep within the system.
Crisis Core, in case you weren't paying attention the few times that Square Enix has actually talked about the game, tells the story of Zack, an elite soldier in the Shinra Corporation who appeared only momentarily in the main Final Fantasy VII game as a past friend of Cloud. Here, he gets a full game built around his adventures fighting for the Shinra in the build up to FFVII.
The playable demo had two scenarios. The first scenario started off with Zack in his home base. His commander orders him out on a mission to investigate a missing soldier. Sephiroth, the villain from FFVII, had been ordered to do this particularly important mission, but had rejected the order. Following this opening sequence, Zack and a Turk head off to a mountainside area where they begin their investigation, revealing lots of story details as they converse. The scenario came to an end with a few simple fights followed by a big boss fight versus Ifreet.
The second scenario started off in a forest, with Zack and another character already out on a mission. Following a few simple battles, Zack faces off in a stand-off with a dozen or so guards, with new ones appearing as you defeat the current set. Clear this, and you enter a castle, and face off against two giant beasts simultaneously.
Crisis Core has action and menu-based elements. You have full control over Zack when moving around, and can rotate the camera with the left and right triggers. Every now and then, you'll get into a random battle. The battle takes place on the same screen as regular movement, with no transition or loading.
But the controls do change a bit. While you're still free to move Zack around the battle field, the right and left triggers select a command from a command bar, which is then executed by pressing the X button. In the demo, Zack had a number of commands available to him. To attack enemies, you set the command bar to attack. Spells like fire, blizzard, cure and their higher level counterparts are also located on the command bar and used in the same fashion, although they deplete magic points with each use.
When the command bar is set to attack, the game has somewhat of an action feel to it, especially given that you can use square to perform a quick roll maneuver and triangle to block incoming attacks. The only thing missing is a jump.
Battles consist of multiple enemies on screen at once, sometimes totaling over 12. Some enemies can be taken out with standard blade attacks, while others are positioned on higher ground and require that they be knocked out with spells. As you might expect, some spells are more effective against certain enemies; a fire spell won't work against Ifreet, for instance.
I couldn't figure out a way to target specific enemies. It seems that the game automatically targets the closest enemy, and changes the target automatically as you move around. This wasn't a problem in the demo, and that will hopefully be the case in the final.
I also couldn't get the details on another prominent gameplay system. The top-left corner of the screen houses a roulette which, from time to time, rewards Zack with some sort of power up. One of these power ups resulted in a screen-clearing summon spell.
From a strictly gameplay standpoint, Crisis Core seems solid, with a fast pace and the potential for a good mix of action and menu-based battle systems. But my attention at Jump Festa was focused on something besides the gameplay.
Taken strictly on technical merits, Crisis Core is the most impressive PSP game I've ever played. In fact, with the PSP's small screen providing an assist, I'd go so far as to say that Crisis Core looks better than most PS2 games out there.
During cinematic scenes, the character models are detailed and fully animated. Battles contain screens with double digit enemies, and giant bosses. All that, and full voice, wihtout any pauses for loading!
The Ifreet boss was particularly impressive. In addition to showing off gorgeous fire effects, with Ifreet himself engulfed in flames as he fights, at one point during the demo, Ifreet cast a full-motion-video based summon spell of his own. The game managed to switch into and out of the full motion video sequence without turning to a blank screen.
Crisis Core seems almost too technically sound to be a PSP game. It also appears to have some of the highest production values yet seen in a portable game. A trailer for the game shown in the Square Enix closed theater space had real time cinematic sequences featuring the likes of Cloud and Aerith, along with quality CG sequences.
Personally, I think all the "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" products released so far have been second rate. But Crisis Core looks so good that it could turn things around on its own. It all depends, of course, on how compelling a game Square Enix manages to put together in the end. They've waited this long, so let's hope they don't rush things and end up giving us a game worthy of the FFVII name.
For more information and downloads, click here!
There are 29 comments - Join In and Discuss Here