It is a very linear game but if anything, compared to Oblivion, this linearity seems like FFVII’s core strength. Going back to Oblivion now, the open-endedness of the game seems curiously limiting. Yes, you can design your own character, customise his look – but the game is still based on a main, traditional, heroic quest of saving the universe, so even if you design a cold-blooded, death-dealing assassin or charming, talkative minstrel – that is what you must do.
Sure, you can wander around and do the quests you like, but when I played Oblivion first time round, I took the time to design a character, think of a bit of backstory and reasoning as to why she was what she was. And then I did a bunch of missions and realised that I’d be a lot better off with a character who was just really, really good at mashing people, wolves, orcs and demons. Basically, I designed a character (a meta character, almost) who was good at the Oblivion game. My character wasn’t a hero or anti-hero; instead, I was a roving stat-monster who was good at missions.
Not that I didn’t have fun, but strangely, FFVII’s linearity means it coheres brilliantly. It all adds up. All the freedom technology affords a game like Oblivion makes it difficult – perhaps impossible – for the game to hang together. I liked Oblivion, I really did – but I liked it in moments; a cool fight here, a journey across a gorgeous mountain pass there – but the open-ended design means it just doesn’t gel.
Go forth and game
I really enjoyed playing FFVII – I still need to complete it, which I am eagerly waiting to get back from Computex to do. Classic games do still stand up today, so next time someone mentions a great title, if you’ve not played it, go and find it. I’d love to see the gaming industry do better at presenting its Classics though; too many games just aren’t easy to find or play. Xbox 360’s Live Arcade is a good start, and both Sony and Nintendo are promising good things in terms of preserving gaming’s heritage.
I’d like to see them go further than just providing the old titles for download though: DVDs with commentaries, documentaries, interviews for classic movies are a great way to get to grips with a classic film – for instance, I’d much rather have a version of Doom (1) with all this extra stuff than Doom 3. Ultimately, it’s the game that matters, and I’m not asking for a load of crap cash-ins, but I believe in yesterday: there’s a lot to be learned from it, and it’s just as good as today.
Alex Watson is Reviews Editor for CustomPC magazine.
Thanks to mobygames.com, bishounen.info and mundopsp.com for the screens.