The arena was home to the harrowing sounds of cheers and screams of joy when the central screen filled with footage of what is now known as the first trailer for the Final Fantasy VII remake. It was the brightest highlight of everything that had happened in Los Angeles Convention Center in the month of June, and the overkill reveal by Sony to live an everlasting thirst in amongst all Final Fantasy fans.
Final Fantasy VII remake is real, it’s happening, and it’s not simply a mere ‘HD remake’ with slightly better graphics and animations, but an entirely new game on its own. It will be built from ground-up, and will certainly take on a path that makes it feel different yet eerily familiar to the 1997 game that holds the claim of being the best title in the franchise.
Although it is being dubbed a remake, this new Final Fantasy VII will follow different trends than its predecessor, as confirmed by Game Director Tetsuya Nomura. There will be story and narrative changes, and according to speculations also changes to the gameplay.
Nomura only stated that it’ll be a more ‘realistic system’ as far as the game mechanics are concerned, but the dreaded thought of altering the much-adored turn-based tactical battle system of FFVII to the modern Final Fantasy one is considered as blasphemy.
It’s not just the cult-following and urge to preserve tradition that induces cringe at the thought of Cloud running around in an environment and system inspired by Final Fantasy XII and FFXIII, but the very fact that it greatly alters one of the most important core aspects of the original title.
Contrary to popular belief among folks who have not played the original Final Fantasy VII, the game was not brilliant just because of its story, but also because of its unique game mechanics. Introducing anything other than the turn-based system will cripple the much-loved Materia mechanics, which was instrumental in giving a unique structure and meaning to game.
The ability to control and select options for all your members also gave true meaning and output to the many characters in the game. The personality brought out by the battle prowess of characters like Barret and Vincent would greatly suffer if the gameplay mechanics of post Final Fantasy XII were adopted.
Many tactical and intelligent designs that served as highlights for FFVII would falter as well. Certain enemies that required unorthodox tactics such as applying status effects on oneself would suffer vastly, and having the AI controlling the majority of the party members (whether by the classic Gambit-inspired system or something new) would greatly limit the variety of encounters one could face.
Sure, screen transitions aren’t a necessity (because in all honesty, they had the potential to turn into an absolute nuisance in every game that has incorporated them), and the enemies could be actually visible in the normal world like Final Fantasy XII or XIII, but the turn-based system needs to remain in-tact to allow the game to represent itself as a Final Fantasy VII remake or reimage, and not a terribly modernized, generalized adaptation to attract newer audiences.
The best Square Enix can do in its remake (or reimage, whichever suits you better) is to keep those who experienced the original Final Fantasy VII in mind first, and move on from there. A large part of the consumers will be those who want to experience FFVII in a fresher way, yet still have their nostalgia quenched by experiencing something familiar as well.
It seems the public is open to changes in the way the story is told and augmentations to the world, but the battle system is something that needs to be preserved, both for the fans and for the quality of the game itself.