Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core was a spin-off game released in 2007 as part of a cash grab aimed at Final Fantasy 7 fans looking for something to play on the PlayStation Portable. It was a prequel-flavored slice of Midgar and the world of Final Fantasy 7, complete with real-time battles, perplexing reels, and just enough goodwill and story lore to make it all about work.
The plot revolves around Zack, a relatively minor (but popular!) character from the original game. Without spoiling the whys and whens (and 2020’s FF7R is already upsetting the Final Fantasy 7 canon), Zack has strong ties to Cloud, the big bad Sephiroth, and other characters. Unfortunately, he dies before the main game begins and is only seen in flashbacks.
As Square Enix prepares for the second installment of its big-budget Remake project, Crisis Core Reunion allows newer players to fill in the storyline gaps on Zack. He appears in post-credit scenes in Remake, implying that he will play a larger role in the future.
Square Enix has improved the character models, backgrounds, textures, and user interface to achieve some graphical parity between Crisis Core and the recently released Remake. There is also voice acting throughout the game’s storyline.
However, the character animations have not received the same level of attention – it appears to be a remaster of Final Fantasy X. That’s not bad, but it’s a little disappointing for a 2022 PS5 game.
Several character models in Crisis Core Reunion look almost good enough to appear in Remake, even if they move like characters in a PS2 game. (Sephiroth, who appears briefly in the demo, appears to be more lovingly remastered than even Zack.)
There is some good news. On a home console, you now have two analog controllers to control the camera and movement at the same time, whereas the PSP only had one analog nub. It makes it much easier to parse and focus on the battles. During my demo, the battles were still enjoyable, if a little simple.
Also, don’t expect the responsive battles and spectacle of Remake. Crisis Core’s slot-machine battle mechanism known as “Digital Mind Wave (DMW)” – no idea – remains. During battles, it will automatically cycle through numbers and images of characters from the game.
If some of the numbers match, you can gain health, ability points, increased chances of a critical hit, and other benefits. If the reel images match, you can launch a powerful Limit Break attack that deals a lot of damage, buffs your character, and does some other cool stuff. If the numbers match “777,” Zack will advance a level — which is still strange.
The battle system, like the visuals, harkens back to a simpler era. You’ll fight using a variety of sword swings, spells, and techniques, topped off with Limit Breaks. You can block and dodge, which came in handy during the two boss battles I encountered. But it all seemed a little too simple.
I keep comparing Crisis Core to Remake, with its fluid animation, slow-mo menus, and millions of dollars in development funding. That’s a little unfair, but Crisis Core Reunion is available for Final Fantasy 7 fans who want to delve deeper into the game’s lore — 2007 was a long time ago.