|Zack, at the beginning of the game.|
My second PSP was bought solely for the purpose of trying out Final Fantasy: Crisis Core. I am so glad that I put my faith on the line one more time for this franchise, because I enjoyed playing this game more than any I have in years. After an hour of play I was hooked; glued to the screen with that nostalgia and addiction state that only Final Fantasy and Pokemon can put out. In my most certainly biased opinion, Crisis Core is the greatest game made for the Playstation Portable.
For those of you that aren't aware, this title is a prequel to Final Fantasy 7 (FF7). Everyone who has already played the seventh game will learn a lot of behind the scenes knowledge by playing Crisis Core, and will thoroughly enjoy the ties to the sequel. Despite this, if you're never touched the Final Fantasy series don't be worried, it doesn't make much of a difference except you will probably earn some strong incentive to play FF7 afterwards.
|Sephiroth, Angeal and Genesis.|
The story begins with Zack Mayfair, a 2nd class SOLDIER working for the power company Shinra Inc. Shinra supplies Mako energy to the world, and is so profitable it branches out into many other questionable operations. Zack aspires to rise to SOLDIER 1st class, and be among warriors as powerful as the intimidating Sephiroth and encouraging Angeal. The game follows his journey working for the mighty Shinra, fighting to resolve conflict and learning about the company and their inner dealings.
On Zack's journey he comes across many memorable characters, Cloud and Arieth; and many others you may already know. Everyone has their own motive, which you will discover along the way. Although the end of Zack's story is known by everyone who played Final Fantasy 7, his legacy will never be forgotten and the impact of his actions change the world.
|Battles are medium-paced, with plenty of strategy.|
For a handheld game, the artwork in Crisis Core is nothing but spectacular. Although such inspiring visual cutscenes are expected by Square-Enix, they still present a wonderful addition to an already brilliant experience. Even the ingame graphics are commendable. In fact, the only thing you could possibly complain about is the slight screen tear, which is essentially present in every PSP game presenting such pretty pictures.
Accompanying the beautiful graphics is a stellar soundtrack. This means something from me, because I've always been akin to Nobuo Uematsu, the music artist who has directed the sounds for the majoritiy of Final Fantasy games. Crisis Core is not composed by Nobuo. A lot of the songs are simply FF7 revamped, but there is some nice original content within the game.
|Very pretty, and look! Buster sword.|
Gameplay is polished. Instead of turn based battles, you will find a system that can only be compared to Kingdom Hearts. Combat requires you to move and dodge around enemies, attacking with your sword when you can and selecting abilities when you require them. I prefer this more interactive approach as opposed to sitting and waiting for your turn. It also adds that skill element, which provides a degree of satisfaction to succeeding.
Materia is in place as the magic system, it can be equipped and fused, levelled up and abused. Fusing new Materia usually creates something more powerful, and much of the best magic in the game need fusion.
|Roaming isn't very complex.|
A unique addition to battle is the DMV- Digital Mind Wave. This slot machine rolls as you fight, containing numbers and characters within the game. Even summons are accomodated into the DMV. Eventually you will land on a winning set, for example three Ifrit images. Once obtained, you can gain special properties such as gaining a level, or dishing out obscene amounts of damage. This feature is quite original, and whilst a little difficult to grasp in the beginning; very rewarding once you get used to it.
Areas in the game are instance based, and are mostly small and linear. Coming into contact with an opponent in the field begins the battle mode, it is possible to avoid some if you're quick. Patrolling the map is very basic. Chests can be found, and there isn't much interaction with the environment in most cases. In other words, it's the same as most JRPG games.
|You can see the DMV in the top left.|
I played the game from start to finish, sleep my only barrier between play. There is more than enough content. Aside from the main storyline, there are plenty of challenging side missions to level up and farm items and Materia. In total, there is around 40-60 hours of play to be completed if you want to do everything. In reality, you will probably be finished after 30 hours.
If you own a PSP, I implore you; buy Crisis Core. Buy it now, and punch anyone in the mouth if they try to stop you. This is a wonderful game, I even bought the handheld to play it. If you liked Final Fantasy 7, then you'd genuinely be a fool to pass this gem by.
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