Gun Sage: Okay…*cracks knuckles, neck, and various limbs that shouldn’t bend that way*…here goes. This was my #1 pick, and yes, it pleases me to see it so high on the list. But why was it my #1? Well, I don’t want this to turn into a 5 page essay, so I’ll try to keep this brief. FF7 was not the first RPG I ever played, but it was the most significant. I’ve already mentioned it had a shit-ton of firsts, but I’ll mention some of them again.
First console RPG (let alone FF title) to have a black main character, first FF to (officially) incorporate limit breaks, first truly cinematic FF, first FF to go 3D, first FF to go futuristic (and the only one to do it well), first FF to appeal to a wider fanbase than just D&D nerds, first FF to make gamers cry, first FF to be in disc format (significant because of movies and movie quality as well as audio quality), first FF game to curse like a sailor, first FF game to be given a teen rating…I mean, it goes on and on.
But as far as what I think? Look, there are some games out there that all you have to do is mention something specific about the game and instantly everyone around you who’s a gamer too gets a giant boner. So for example…opening bombing mission, Shinra bike scene, Aeris death scene, Midgar, The Turks…I’d go on, but there’s a chance you’re experiencing such a wide range of emotions you had to leave the page.
FF7 is just…like that. It’s not just a game; it’s an experience. When you really get lost in a game and everything about it, it’s a great game. When people you never thought would talk about RPGs suddenly start mentioning the same scenes, it’s a legend. And as far as all the fanboy/anti-fanboy hate that’s come up over the years, well, I look at that as a testament to the game as well.
You don’t see people getting uppity about Mystic Quest, Fable 2, Final Fantasy 12, or Paper Mario. Why? Because these were good games, but not nearly good enough to warrant opposing sides.
Nintendo Legend: And then along comes Final Fantasy VII, developed by the mad minds of Square Enix, fresh from severing ties with Nintendo and out to prove that cartridges suck and disks were the future. The only way to prove this beyond a shadow of doubt was to produce a game so eye-popping, so gut-wrenching, so jaw-dropping, so utterly beautiful that the debate is not whether it is any good, but whether it is the greatest game of all time. Debating whether Final Fantasy VII is overrated is like debating as to whether Michael Jordan is overrated: All parties understand the inherent greatness, and only seek to discover the exact extent, despite its nature likely never being fully understood; or, perhaps, merely experienced differently against the backdrop of the context of the collective life had before by any gamer embarking on FF7.
From its life-or-death struggle of a tale, to its tip-top-tightly honed RPG elements, and throughout its revolutionary strokes in in-game storyline twists and turns, Final Fantasy VII represents a bygone era. Future gamers may simply lack the intellectual capacity, attention span, or simple humanity to ever appreciate a game like FF7 ever again. Damn all the modern-day-based wartime “gritty realism” first-person shooters. Some of us want escapism into a fiction that is bigger than our real world, not to glorify violence against some pathetic excuse of garnering sympathy for true soldiers. In a sick twist of something near irony, the Final Fantasy may actually, indeed, represent our Final Fantasy, with the seventh chapter being the one we adhere too most fondly.
SRD: There are two different types of Final Fantasy games, and this defines one of them. No turned based RPG has been able to achieve what FF7 did back in 1997, and that’s bring gameplay and storytelling into the 3D world and essentially knock Nintendo of its perch as King of the Hardware Hill for Sony. It IS Final Fantasy in the third dimension.