Thursday, June 18, 2015

Final Fantasy VII Remake - How much will they change?

After a very long wait, the Final Fantasy VII remake has finally been confirmed. This is something fans have been dreaming about since the tech demo for the PlayStation 3, but now it is a reality. The thing is though... Just how much will the game be changed?

The thing about Final Fantasy VII is, it's an old game, and a game that got away with a lot back in the day. If you've never played it for yourself, you might assume it's like any other Final Fantasy, but in reality it is not. The things that game did were pretty shocking to see, and one can't help but wonder if all of it will be retained in this remake. So, with that being said, let's take a look into what may or may not be different once this remake is released.

The World:

Like many of the PS1 era RPGs, Final Fantasy VII was a game that made use of 3D models and prerendered backgrounds. Just about every area in the game was an image with character models appearing larger or smaller as they ran either into the background, or towards the screen. Sometimes there were other 3D models you could interact with, or NPCs to talk to, but for the most part the game's world was simply backgrounds -- ones that gave the illusion of a 3D game. So, the question is, will this style remain?

When you think "remake," and watch the CGI trailer, you'd assume the new game would be fully 3D -- but what if it's not? Will Square-Enix really take the time to fully recreate this world in 3D? Just looking back at Crisis Core on the PSP will show how large the game really is. Crisis Core's large hub areas, for example, are 3D recreations of maps found in Final Fantasy VII, and most you will run through in a matter of a few seconds. In Crisis Core you run around and explore, but in FF7 you're in a hurry to get through them and they seem like nothing -- they are actually some of the smallest maps in the game, yet the 3D world in Crisis Core makes them seem huge. So, what if they remade the entire game in 3D? Could they do it? Or rather, would they do it? It's possible, yes, but it's also possible they will take another route.

The first fully 3D mainline Final Fantasy was X, and although it's in 3D, it still uses fixed camera angles, and some prerendered backgrounds. With this style of game, less detail goes into the world, but what is shown still looks very nice. It gives the game a 3D environment to make use of during cutscenes, but it also confines them to a smaller path and limits what they can or cannot see -- very similar to a full on prerendered game. It allows for maps to be smaller, yet still appear to be larger, and it is much easier to make. Rather than modeling a mountain side, and every single thing the eye can see as you rotate the camera, all that would be required is the mountain itself, and the path up it. This is a style many JRPGs out there use, so it wouldn't be too shocking if the FF7 remake did the same. (Although I'm sure many would agree, a fully 3D world would be amazing.)

Another question we can ask ourselves about the game world is, what will the world map be like? Will we have a world map, or will it be some sort of connected path? Either was is technically possible, but what would work better? Really, it depends on the style of the main game and what Square-Enix decides is best. Many games in the past have simply stuck full sized character models on a smaller world map to traverse it, but every once in awhile we've seen games use connected paths instead -- including remakes of games which originally used another style. Some examples of this would be games like the original Star Ocean, or Tales of Hearts. When these two games (though only one is published by Square-Enix) were remade, they went from connecting paths between towns and areas, to having full 3D world maps. Of course in FF7's case it would be the other way around, but it doesn't change the fact that it's possible for Square-Enix to do this. Rather than seeing a new version of the world map we all know and love, it may be a fully 3D world with connecting paths, and unique geogerphy to guide us on our way. It wouldn't be the first Final Fantasy to do this, as we've seen X, and even XII do this in an open styled setting.

Enemies and Battle:

Along with the possible changes to the game's world, the enemy and battle systems may be different as well. While Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, and basically every other mainline Final Fantasy used random encounters, the newer entries in the series actually have them appear in the field -- so the question is, what will the remake do?

With games like Final Fantasy XII, combat takes place on the field, and there's nothing random about them. You walk into the area, you see the enemies, you kill them, and you leave the area and come back if you want them to respawn. It's a system that works for that game, but it's not something that fits with a standard JRPG like FF7. So, what could they do? Well, random encounters of course, but the real question is if they will appear on the field or not.

In games like Final Fantasy XIII-2, enemies randomly spawn on the field in front of you, and you are given the choice to fight them or not. If you want to get into battle, you simply run into them, and if you don't, you run away. It's a system that works, and it can really help save time. Instead of constantly being pulled into a fight, you get to pick when you want to, and it also gives you a chance to see what you're getting yourself into. This is a feature Crisis Core could have really used, but instead players were pulled into fight after fight with an insanely high encounter rate -- making it a chore just to get to the end of an area. Hopefully Final Fantasy VII does go down this route, but if not, hopefully the encounter rate is kept at a tolerable level. But, putting all of that aside, what about the battles themselves?

While it's safe to assume that the main battle system and game mechanics will be the same, the battlefield itself may be different. Like in many early Final Fantasy games, FF7 was a turn based game where enemies and your party stood on opposite sides of the battlefield, and during their turn they would step forward and do an attack. It looked nice for it's time, but overall it was pretty static and had limiting animations -- that's something that could be fixed in this HD remake.

In Final Fantasy X-2, and XIII, characters would move around the battlefield, they would physically dodge attacks, they would send enemies flying, they would jump into the air to attack, and pull off other crazy feats. Some of the things seen looked like attacks right out of Final Fantasy VII's movie, so it isn't out of the question that we'd see something similar in the remake. Maybe nothing quite as crazy, but it'd be nice if there was more animation and movement in general.

"Mature" Content:

As mentioned before, Final Fantasy VII is a game that really pushed it. Although it was given a T rating, some of the things it did just wouldn't fly in a T rated game today. So, it begs the question, will they censor it? Or will we be getting an M rated Final Fantasy VII?

For anyone who hasn't played FF7, one of the first things which may shock you is the language. The game wasn't scared of saying what it wanted, and because of that nearly every major curse word is used. Sure many of them are perfectly fine for a T rated game (and even E10 in some cases), but for others they used a "trick" to get around getting an M rating -- one such word being the F bomb.

While you may not realize it at first, the F bomb is a common word in FF7, and many characters use it. Sure, they replaced it with symbols, but when you see a character yell something along the lines of "WHAT THE @#$%!?" You know what is being said. It's very common with one character actually, and it adds to his personality/who he is. Sure, he's still himself without using such language, but it's something long time fans have come to expect, and removing it would just feel... Strange. Of course he'll use every other curse out there as well, but it's the F bomb that has to be censored -- which means the remake will either have to cut out such language completely, or up the rating.

Putting cussing aside, the game is also filled with sexual content, and violence. Early on in the game Cloud cross dresses to break into the Don's place (which has been confirmed for the remake), and a series of messed up things proceed to happen. For one, Cloud is thrown into a room with a bunch of men who try to do "something" to him, another girl is chased around the basement, and the third is saved just before the Don does what he wants to her. The scene is followed up with the characters saying they'll do things to the Don's manhood (including crushing, and ripping it off), and it ends with the characters escaping. Overall the scene is one of the funnier moments of the game, but it really does push it. While other T rated games use sexual themes, FF7 features quite a few funny scenes, as well as a few "almost" rape scenes -- which is a very sensitive topic, and not a joking matter in real life. The Don's house is just one of these moments, and some may find it offensive -- even though nothing does happen (spoilers), and it ends in a joke. On top of that there's also implied sex scenes, and even a love hotel close by that may offend some.

As for the violence in FF7, there's a lot of it. Since the game uses small cartoony character models, it wasn't too bad, but with the remake that may change. Crisis Core had some pretty violent (and bloody) scenes, but FF7 has even more -- if they would show them that is. For example, one early scene has the characters finding a key character who had their head cut off (which one reacts to by yelling "WHERE'S IT'S @#$%ING HEAD!?"). There's also the "famous scene" which most JRPG fans know about by now, and the flash back scenes which show the moment Cloud's life changed. Another character's back story shows how they lost their hand, and there's some pretty violent moments throughout other parts of the story as well. So, again, the question is... Will all of this stay in? Will they keep the sexual content for the comedy? Or will they remove it due to the fact it's an attempt at rape. Will they show the violent scenes, or use camera angles to censor what doesn't need to be shown? Again, Crisis Core did show quite a bit, but just how much more can they get away with before going too far? Final Fantasy Type-0 did, and because of it's violence, it became the first M rated Final Fantasy.

The Party:

The final change is something that is most likely to happen for sure -- the inclusion of two party members into the game's story. Originally the characters of Yuffie and Vincent were extra party members that could be unlocked by doing specific things. Yuffie could be unlocked shortly after beating the game's "intro," and Vincent could be found if you opened a specific door in the mansion. Although both of these characters are important to the series (and fan favorites), in reality they aren't as important to this specific game in the series. Both of them could actually be missed, and even if you did get them, they hardly do a thing. Yes, you unlock some extra side stories for them, but throughout the game's main plot they are simply there. They weren't actually meant to be included in the game, and because of that they fully take on the role of being extra characters. Characters that don't exist in cutscenes, and ones that wouldn't impact the story in any way if they were missed. This is something that is sure to change with the remake. Since the original release, both characters have been given a lot more time in the spotlight (Vincent was the main character of his own game, with Yuffie as the side character for example), and both really do play a large role in the overall story. Not including them as a part of the main cast in the remake would be a big mistake on Square's part, and is something that no one would expect Square to do.

Of course, all of this is just speculation. What will really happen with the game is only known to Square, but at least it gives us something to think about... But what about you? How do you feel about this game? Would you like to see it stay as close as possible to the original, or would you like to see more changes? As always, feel free to leave a comment below.