In the PlayStation 2 game Final Fantasy VII – Dirge of Cerberus, Square Enix still makes the story of Vincent Valentine intriguing three years after Final Fantasy VII and one year after the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Producers should be commended for risking a new style full of action-filled game play, guided by heroic morales and high quality cinematic cutscenes that helped raise the bar for the entire RPG genre while definitely adding shooter gameplay elements.
The pacing, targeting functionality and loading time (constantly improving with technology) deflate this high-profile title considerably. Developers simply use too many cutscenes.
In this installment, a mysterious group raids the city of Midgar and Vincent reluctantly leaps into action as the game’s graphics features average environments, a largely linear level progression and visuals amid a shooter format with a choice of normal or hard difficulty. Players can switch from first-person or third-person views and also customize weapons. Camera options are not very good, especially in close scenarios.
Yuffie, Cait and Reeve also appear in the plot. Vincent could use less weapon options and more health strength because he dies too quickly. Be sure to take advantage of the “tempsave” option, because you can lose your progress (points will still be assessed and added before you’re brought back to the main menu). Enemies often follow similar patterns without much variance in their movements, so it’s easy to strategize tactics for their predictable movements.
There’s plenty of help for anyone who needs it. Use the tutorial menu’s tutorials to help with the challenging and occasionally annoying levels. Players also have the option of using a USB mouse or keyboard for navigation. The circle button gets players out of any menu while pressing the start button, then X allows skips of sequences or pauses.
High replay value increases only if players want to conquer additional areas and advance their level status, but most players could conquer the main campaign in a five to seven hour time frame (also depending on how many cut scenes are skipped). The extra features — missions, character viewer, event viewer, sound gallery and art gallery – appear as players advance and there are extra missions after conquering the game.
Overall, most of the familiar elements seem more ordinary than fantastical, with the obvious exception of the decent plot. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII: Lost Episode is also available on mobile phones. Recommended with several reservations (** out of four stars).
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler