Initially, my plan was to avoid all remake info and bide my time patiently until the full release came out, but uhh, as you can see by this post, things didn't quite go as planned. I had the day off and I woke up to news of the demo dropping on PSN and I just talked myself into it!
So, as I’m sure you are all probably aware of by now, the Final Fantasy Remake Demo has hit the PlayStation Network stores this morning. I finished playing through it and just wanted to give some of my first impressions of it. Here we go!
First of all, the demo itself clocks in at around one hour of game time, and that was with me taking the time to admire the amazingly remastered areas and see if I could find any cool secrets. The demo covers the first chapter of the game. It begins with the iconic intro with a quick shot of Aerith passing through the alleys until the camera floats upwards and hits us with an aerial shot of Midgar and the FF& logo. Then it cuts to the train screaming into the station as the camera slowly floats down to ground level and you know it’s on!
It doesn’t take long at all to see how much effort they put into the remake, just look at the in-game screenshots down below! After the initial battle against the Shinra soldiers, I had to just stop and look around for a minute. The graphics are absolutely stunning. The effects are flashy. The set pieces are gorgeous: Midgar has never looked so good and yet so grimy at the same time. The character models really shine here. I know that over the years we got to see some updated 3D models of the characters thanks to things like Crisis Core and Advent Children, but they pale in comparison to the greatly detailed versions here in the remake demo. Cloud and Aerith look just about the same as they always do (albeit a lot nicer looking) but Barret’s appearance is leagues better than when we last saw in Advent Children. The rest of the AVALANCHE crew is looking jazzed up as well, though I still think Biggs costume is stupid haha. Cargo shorts, an off-white T-shirt, and a bright red bandana on top of big-ass metal pauldrons? Real discreet, big guy, real discreet. I loved the music, no surprises there. I’ll need to check into that later because I’m not sure who is responsible for it.
The combat. Not sure about the combat yet but I am leaning more towards enjoying it rather than hating it. I do understand why they wanted to change it. FF7 has been ported and remastered more times than I can count and I do agree that it was a nice change: a new way to enjoy something that should be all too familiar to us by now. I know a lot of people will complain about it but really, you can always go back and play the original on your PS1. Or your PS3, PS Vita, PS4, PC, Xbox One. You get my point. Anyways, you control one character at a time. When you have more than one character with you, you can either issue them commands or switch to them at will. Other than that, they just auto-attack. You can attack, dodge, and defend at will, but if you want to use a special command like items, abilities or magic you need to wait for your ATB gauge to fill up. Each character has a unique command attached to the Triangle button that I thought was pretty cool. Cloud can switch from his balanced Operator Mode to a slow-moving, heavy damage-dealing stance called Punisher Mode. Barret has Overcharge: a command that fires off a powerful barrage and fills up his ATB quickly. Overcharge has a cooldown period before you can use it again, but you can speed it up by repeatedly pressing triangle. By repeatedly attacking enemies you can fill up their pressure gauges. Once a pressure gauge is maxed, it will stagger the enemy. This allows you the opportunity to pound the hell out of them while they’re temporarily incapacitated. It’s a mechanic that should be familiar to anyone who has played Lightning Returns. Limit breaks work the same way as they always do: take a beating until your meter fills up, then you can unleash it whenever you so choose. I thought that the combat was fairly fun and easy until I got to the Mako Reactor boss. Against a much harder opponent, some issues popped up. The camera is kind of a pain. Even when locking on to your opponent, it doesn’t keep them in view very well. It also doesn’t help that he jumps around like a maniac. Even manually controlling the camera felt a bit finicky to me. It’s probably something that I’ll get used to the more I play through the full release, but for now it felt more like an unnecessary hassle. Worrying about the camera on top of the scorpion death ray, dodging missiles, everything blowing, and whatever the hell Barret was doing while I was trying to maneuver into position sure stressed me out, but I had fun doing it. I had a smile on my face the whole entire time with this demo and I know one thing for sure: I can’t wait until April!
-By Richard Jewell
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