It’s been a busy news week here on planet earth, but the only thing i find worth talking about is this little piece of news stating that the long awaited remake to FF VII will be episodic in nature. Nobody asked me for my opinion but i’m going to write about it anyway, and for giggles i’m going to write it in the form of a review.
As i have stated on my Advent Children: Complete review, Final Fantasy VII is a hallmark of my youth. It’s a pillar of it really, i have a lot of memories invested in it like how i was blown away by the graphics that my new Playstation was capable of, or how fucking epic the music was, or how the story built so wonderfully to a great climax and how rewarding it was to see the ending. I can go on and on about it, it’s all quite quaint to think about now a days as the game has certainly not aged well, and with that in mind i welcomed and craved the idea of a remake.
So, when Square Enix after 10 years of stalling, refusing, and if honestly feel being genuinely afraid of success announced that they were going to remake FFVII by releasing an incomprehensible and very mundane trailer at E3 2015 i was understandingly jubilant.
Seriously, that trailer is fucking lame.
But then reality stepped in with the news that it would be episodic, and well…
There is a chance that the episodic nature of the game might be for it’s benefit. The most successful franchise that i can think of is Starcraft II. SCII’s full story comprises almost 75 missions, and is almost overwhelming with its length. Blizzard was met with some heavy criticism on what was seen as a money grabbing scheme (i myself thought this), but their defense of wanting to make the game as big and rewarding as possible for our benefit has for the most part been vindicated. The same will have to be seen for the FFVII remake.
As for the changes to the battle system as seen here in the new gameplay trailer:
I honestly expected them to tinker with many things, the ATB system of the original is one of the elements that is horribly dated. The only caveat’s that i have is that they don’t change the story overtly (they can make references to Crisis Core and others) and that the Materia system remains in place (as that is one of FFVII’s core gameplay mechanics).
The bad news is unfortunately much more immediate as only future Manuel knows if the extra money was worth it in the long run. So lets start with the obvious; this is clearly a way for Square Enix to milk as much money as it can out of FFVII fans. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. This is after all the same company that declared the Tomb Raider reboot a failure even when it sold 3.4 million copies in its first week. This is the same company that pulled that infuriating DLC garbage with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Also this is a company that until recently has been losing money rapidly.
So it really isn’t all the surprising that they would chop up a property they know will sell well in attempts to live off it like vultures live off a corpse. But ultimately that means we suffer for it.
If Starcraft II is taken as an example we will have to wait a very long time to play the full experience, SCII has taken 6 years to complete its story. Another infamous example of the issues facing episodic releases is the delays in getting Half Life 2: Episode 3 out. I really don’t want to be pessimistic as the thought of waiting 6 or even 10 years to play a remake that i have already been waiting 10 years to play is a horrible thought, but that may be the reality of the situation.
Another troubling thought comes with this quote from Yoshinori Kitase:
“We’ve seen everyone’s comments and reactions to the news that Final Fantasy VII Remake will be a multi-part series and many have speculated correctly as to the reason why we have made this decision. If we were to try to fit everything from the original into one remake installment, we would have to cut various parts and create a condensed version of Final Fantasy VII. We knew none of you would have wanted that.”
So with that in mind it would be right of me to expect that each episode of FFVII will have the same amount of content as any other medium size RPG Like Dragon Age II? I highly, highly doubt that will be the case. In the best case scenario the first episode will be the entirety of the 1st disc of the original. Sadly this video sums up the possibility of Square doing that.
This is Square Enix we’re talking about here, they’re on par with EA and Ubisoft in terms of greed, and as a result it is more likely that the first episode will end when after Cloud and company leave Midgar. Which makes me wonder how many episodes do they plan? They are of course being tight lipped about this (to be fair they may not know themselves).
Also, i’m going to call it a load of garbage anyway. What Kitase is saying is that it is impossible to remake the game that they made almost 20 years ago without cutting things? No. No, that is simply not the truth. Why don’t they just come out and say the truth? I would have more respect if they were simply honest about their intentions, and from what i gather the truth is:
“Listen FFVII fans. The size of the original FFVII game would require us to invest more years developing it than we are comfortable in doing so. Hardware may change, the market may change, but the bottom line is: we need the money. We need the money now, and we know you will cough it up for us at any time and the sooner the better for us and tangentially you as well.”
Kitase’s statement honestly has the air of someone who has convinced himself of the truth, or believed the usual corporate bullshit that comes out of higher ups in any large company. As why couldn’t they just release it on multiple discs like they did with FFVII, VIII, and IX? Why could Squaresoft make the game as big as it was again almost 20 years ago with inferior technology less people (approximately 120 artists and programmers were involved in FFVII and the game took 3 years to make versus over 200 people on FF XIII and four years in development), unless the bottom line was the main factor?
Again, i would appreciate the honesty. Don’t patronise me with talk about how you’re doing it for my benefit as i (and i’m sure most people) would rather you just spend the time to release it once and if it takes five years to get the whole game in there then take the five years to make it proper.
The bottom line is that this news isn’t going to prevent me from purchasing FFVII. Square has me by the balls on this one, and they know it. But, despite it hurting me to do so i’m going to wait until all the episodes are released before i play, it’s the only way i can protest the decision and still play my game.