Paige FTW: A Bombing Mission

Square-Enix dropped the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo earlier this week, so naturally I dropped everything to give it a whirl. It is, of course, a recreation of the iconic beginning of the original title: Bombing Mission.

My first thought, of course: My god, how beautiful it all is. The characters, the scenery, everything is rendered in the most loving of high definitions, with the lights in Cloud’s eyes as vivid as the delicate, insidious sparkles of mako energy that leak into the streets.

For the most part, anyone familiar with the original will recognize the dialogue, layout and goals of this particular quest, but everything has been enhanced. Jessie, Biggs and Wedge gossip with one another about Cloud, their characters considerably deepened and given more life. Cloud is as appropriately stoic and sassy as one would expect at this point in time.

Barrett, though, is a bit … off. He comes across as an aggressively typical stereotype with the over-the-top voice acting to match, and it is rather off-putting — especially in light of Squeenix’s success with minority characters like Sazh from Final Fantasy XIII. I almost want them to replace his voice actor.

On the other hand, at one point Barrett sings the victory fanfare in the most hilariously obnoxious way possible, so …

The turn-based battle system remains — to a degree. Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts players will recognize some of director Tetsuya Nomura’s signature touches in the half-action, half-turn system, which requires you keep track of numerous gauges as you also react in real time. There’s even a system of staggering and vulnerability that harkens back to Final Fantasy XIII.

It was … not as easy as it appears to be. The Scorpion Sentinel fight was a breeze in the original; in this version, I burned through Potions as I tried to juggle the chaos of the fight. (And here I was, wondering why there were so many items lying around.)

Still, it was a heartening glimpse at what could be a very successful, modern-yet-nostalgic project. We’ll find out in a few months…