I feel the need to start these hands-on impressions with my confession. Final Fantasy VII will always have a special place in The Brah’s heart. It completely changed the way I gamed forever, introducing JRPGs to my gaming palette, opening a whole new world of possibility to me. So when they first revealed the Final Fantasy VII Remake back during E3 2015, I went crazy. Four years later, here I am writing this hands-on piece having played yet a small taste of what fans of the game have been asking for since the PS3 tech demo of the opening of FFVII. Hell, I’m pretty sure we’ve been asking for this since the PS2 tech demo of Squall and Rinoa dancing from the classic FFVIII scene.

All the pressure of the world is on the shoulders of Square Enix to deliver with this. Can they satisfy the hunger of us fans!? Find out next time on Dragon Ba–, or just read my thoughts below, Brah!

After a brief presentation from Jessie telling us our mission, we we’re escorted to the demo station area. The demo starts with Jessi giving us the bomb to destroy the Mako reactor below. If you’ve been keeping up with the barrage of trailers that Square Enix has released since the re-reveal last month, then you know they’re putting a tremendous amount of resources into making the Final Fantasy VII Remake one of the most graphically detailed games of 2020. The demo did not disappoint in this department. It seemed as if each strand of hair on Cloud’s head has been individually rendered. The details from the bends and folds in our Heroes’ clothing, along with the surroundings easily rival that of Final Fantasy XV.

Square Enix has always pushed to have some of the most graphically impressive games in the industry and that tradition continues here as the game is really quite the jaw-dropper. Much the way the original game impressed non-fans of the series on the original PlayStation it will the same all these years later on the PlayStation 4 with these juicy graphics and a much more accessible combat system.

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Many fans of the game wanted FFVII‘s turned-based combat to return, but I’m here to tell you that this mix of old school AND new is something that longtime fans plus newcomers will enjoy.  At the core, the Remake is an action-adventure RPG, reminiscent of FFXV and Kingdom Hearts games yet still throwing us back to what made FFVII so good. Battles continue seamlessly as you explore, keeping the game’s immersion as focused as possible. During battles, I used the square button to slice and dice my enemies as Cloud/autofire as Barret until one or both of my slots filled on the ATB meter. Once they filled I was able to slow down the gameplay, giving me the choice use skills, magic (thanks to materia!), or items. L2 or R2 let me switch between the two given the situation. Perhaps an enemy turret was mounted above, perfect for Barret’s gun to unleash a barrage of bullets to put an end to it. As we continued to take damage, regardless if you’re able to block or not, your limit break gauge slowly begins to fill, giving you the ability to unleash your Limit Break, a super-flashy devastating attack upon an enemy. Limit breaks especially came in handy against the Scorpion Sentinel boss battle.

After placing the bomb on the reactor, soon appeared the HUGE robo-mech scorpion from the original game, only this in stunning detail and looking much, MUCH more badass than ever before. The battle quickly escalated as we began unleashing a flurry of attacks upon the mechanical beast until we were able to stagger it into submission, providing us with an opportunity to use our best attacks to deplete its HP. Soon it ran away, attacking us from afar, returning with a shield that only Barret could penetrate with his attacks. After another round of beatings, our foe destroyed a section of the ceiling, causing it to crush around our platform. He began using his laser attack that required us to take cover behind chunks of debris, as it attempted to blast us with its menacing attack. As the battle reached another breaking point, the Scorpion Sentinel attempted to auto-repair, the battle kicked into another gear as we feverishly moved to damaged our target.

After a dramatic battle, we won. Our enemy begins to malfunction, destroying the surroundings as we escaped. The battle was fast, intense, and epic. If this was but a small taste of what combat has to offer then we are all in for one helluva’ treat. Imagine what future boss battles will bring with them in terms of fresh new scenarios that weren’t possible back on the original PlayStation due to hardware limitations. They now have the ability to make boss battles even more memorable than ever before.

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I’m excited. I am so damn excited about what Square Enix is doing with this project even if it took all these years of development to get to this point. It still surprises me that they’re somehow turning the battle for Midgar into its own story jam-packed on two Blu-ray disc of JRPG gaming. How many chapters will this new expanded story encapsulate? How long will we have to wait for each release? We will learn the answers to these questions together as we journey through this new daring world of the FFVII Remake.

Final Fantasy VII Remake launches first on the PS4 on March 3rd, 2020.

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