Final Fantasy VII is a video game that was Squaresoft (now Square Enix)'s first Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation. It was later released for the PC (albeit less successfully), with Eidos Interactive as the distributor.
Unlike previous games in the series, Final Fantasy VII used 3D graphics, with fully rendered characters and prerendered backgrounds. Of all the Final Fantasy games, it is the one most often held up as the best in the series by Westerners (although this claim is also commonly made for Final Fantasy IV, VI and X). Final Fantasy VII is also often claimed to be the best computer game of all time, often winning polls, notably the voting contests on the site GameFAQs, and the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1997.
Final Fantasy VII is also one of the most ambiguous (and, some say, convoluted) games in the series, leaving much of the symbolism and meaning of its complicated story open to debate. Some criticized the installment's (and Final Fantasy VIII) 'futuristic' setting compared to the more medieval/fantasy settings of other Final Fantasy games. Many fans of Nintendo were angered by Squaresoft's decision to develop the game for the PlayStation instead of the Nintendo 64 (previous games in the series appeared on Nintendo's consoles). Titles from the series continued to appear on the Sony consoles, but spin-offs and the such are beginning to appear on Nintendo consoles as well.
The game utilizes elements from such sources such as Kabbalah and Norse mythology, with town names such as Midgar and Nibelheim. Recurring themes throughout the series are the inclusion of specific names (such as Cid, Biggs and Wedge), and the repetition of a soundtrack piece from a previous title in the series.
The game involves controlling the main character (named Cloud), and taking him through a set storyline, often interspersed with FMVs (Full Motion Videos), pre-rendered short clips depicting a pivotal point in the plot, making good use of the developer's latest graphical abilities.
The world is economically, militarily, and politically dominated by a company called Shin-Ra, which profits from the use of machines known as "Mako reactors". These reactors pump "Mako energy" out of the planet and convert it into electricity. A by-product of the electrical refinement process is a substance known as Materia that has magical properties.
The powers in charge of Shin-Ra are fascinated with the idea of the Promised Land -- supposedly, a place where the land is incredibly fertile and where Mako flows abundantly -- as well as a group of people known as the Cetra, or the Ancients, who are, according to legend, able to find it. In Midgar, a city created and run entirely by Shin-Ra, a resistance faction known as AVALANCHE is attempting to destroy the Mako reactors, on the grounds that the reactors are literally sucking the life away from the planet. The story begins as AVALANCHE hires a mercenary named Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER of Shin-Ra, to help them destroy the eight Mako Reactors positioned in a ring around Midgar. Cloud is originally disinterested in AVALANCHE's cause, but he soon begins to see the danger posed by Shin-Ra, and a man he knew in the past named Sephiroth, and so he joins in the escalating conflict to protect the planet.
Like most other Final Fantasy games, FFVII features traditional RPG-style, turn based fighting. The fighting engine is heavily based on that of Final Fantasy III / VI and uses a system called "Active Time Battle" (ATB).
Using "Materia," magic orbs which fill up "Materia slots" in weapons or armour, characters gain access to magic spells, new commands, better attacks or defences and other abilities. Materia can be combined in several ways, and strategic use of Materia combinations can make many battles much easier.
A new feature introduced in Final Fantasy VI, the "Limit Break," reappeared here; "Limit Breaks" are unique attacks that each character can perform after he or she has suffered enough damage. Limit Breaks continued to appear in Final Fantasy VIII in altered form; similar systems exist in Final Fantasy IX (Trance) and Final Fantasy X (Overdrive).
of the opening movie of Final Fantasy VII
wandering through the city of Midgar
The main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are (in order of appearance) Aeris Gainsborough, Barret Wallace, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockheart, Red XIII (also called Nanaki), Cait Sith, Cid Highwind, and two optional characters: Yuffie Kisaragi and Vincent Valentine. Sephiroth joins you in a series of flashbacks, but he cannot be controlled or equipped. Important characters in Shin-Ra are Reeve (Head of Urban Development), Hojo (Head of the Science Department), Heidegger (Head of the "Peace Preservation Department"), Scarlet (Head of Weapons Research and Development), President Shin-Ra, his son Rufus, and the assassin-like Turks (Elena, Rude, Reno, and Tseng).
Playable Characters' Profiles
- Cloud Strife - A mercenary employed by AVALANCHE that the player begins the game controlling. He was a former member of Shinra. Cloud is a confused and conflicted individual with an arrogant front. He wears a purple jumpsuit, has strangely glowing blue eyes, and his blond hair is bizarrely spiked (a fact that his compatriots often tease him about). He fights with a gigantic broadsword.
- Barret Wallace - The leader of AVALANCHE, a powerfully built black man with a deep-seated hatred of everything Shin-Ra. He mistrusts Cloud at first because of the mercenary's past affiliation with Shin-Ra. Barret lost his arm in a battle years ago, and uses a prosthetic "gun-arm" to fight.
- Tifa Lockhart - A childhood acquaintance of Cloud's, she is a skilled martial artist with a cheerful nature. One of the main members of AVALANCHE, she initially convinces Cloud to take a job with AVALANCHE. She has long black hair tied back in a loose pony-tail and brown (or red, depending on the interpretation) eyes. She wears a black miniskirt and a white, bare-shouldered middrift T-shirt.
- Aeris Gainsborough - Soft spoken, fragile, and compassionate, Aeris is a poor flower-seller who is sought after by Shin-Ra. She asks Cloud to be her bodyguard after a run-in with the Turks, and subsequently joins AVALANCHE. She has long brownish-red hair she keeps in a braid with pink bows, vivid green eyes, and wears a red mini-jacket and long pink dress. She fights with a metal quarterstaff. (Note: Aeris is sometimes referred to by her Japanese name, "Aerith." The difference in names is evidently due to a conflicting Romanization of the "s" sound in Japanese. The dispute over the spelling of her name was ended when she was referred to as "Aerith" in Kingdom Hearts.)
The most infamous moment in Final Fantasy VII
; the death of Aeris
- Close to the midpoint of the game, Aeris dies. A (very) persistent rumour has it that Aeris either could be resurrected in the game, could be resurrected in the Japanese version of the game, or that she was meant to be resurrected but the feature could not be completed. However, the staff of the game have stated in interviews numerous times that this is not the case (most recently in a feature on the making of the game in Edge magazine). Aeris' death was, according to the development team, intended to be a permanent and tragic event, a response to the dramatic cliches of heroic sacrifice and resurrection.
- Red XIII - Strong, fierce, and coated with fire-red fur, Red XIII is one large and powerful beast. However, his mind and soul are a different story. With amazing intelligence and a warm heart, Red XIII joins with Cloud after being rescued from a horrible Shin-Ra experiment. Red XIII is the name given to him by Hojo, Shin-Ra's Head of the Science Department. His real name is Nanaki. He is the last surviving member of his species.
- Cait Sith - A black and white talking house-cat, friendly but untrustworthy and unreliable at times. Rides around on the back of a "Mog" that also does all his fighting for him. Has a hobby of telling fortunes. Cait Sith is eventually revealed to be a robot controlled by Reeve, the Shina Corporation's minister of housing, with the machine intended to serve as a spy for Shin-Ra. However, Reeve is somewhat more reasonable than his colleagues, and by the end of the game he is on Cloud's side, often giving insider information on Shin-Ra's current plans.
- Cid Highwind - A rather crotchety character that curses in nearly every sentence, but who remains passionate about his interests and dreams about going into space. A pilot, he wears attire befitting his occupation (gloves, goggles, jacket, scarf) and is skilled with machinery. Has greying blonde hair and blue eyes. Uses a spear in battle.
- Yuffie Kisaragi - A proclaimed "Materia Hunter," she is essentially out to steal the party's materia. She's the youngest, fastest, and least serious member of the group; but eventually even she realizes the gravity of the situation she gets caught up in. Has dark hair, dark eyes, short beige pants, a green sleeve-less turtleneck, and a green headband to match. Uses a shuriken (an oversized ninja star) to throw and slash with. She is the daughter of the leader of Wutai; "Godo". She is an optional playable character in the game.
- Vincent Valentine - A dark, brooding character, often gloomy. Has a dark past involving Sephiroth and Shin-Ra, and feels compelled to help Cloud and the others in their quest. Wears all black, except for a deep red cape, matching headband, and gold claw-arm. Has long, messy black hair and red eyes. His special attacks, or Limit Breaks involve monstrous transformations. His mannerisms and appearance have given rise to rumours among the fanbase that he may be a vampire of some kind. He is an optional playable character in the game.
- Sephiroth - Said to be the greatest member of SOLDIER there ever was. Sephiroth rose to a prominent rank in SOLDIER at an early age. Mysterious and dangerous, with an agenda all his own. Has long, naturally silver-white hair, turquoise eyes, and wears a black leather trenchcoat with silver shoulder plates over it; underneath the trenchcoat he goes bare-chested. A master swordsman, he uses the Masamune, a deadly blade over six feet long which only he can wield.
- Biggs: Member of AVALANCHE. Killed by Shin-Ra.
- Wedge:Member of AVALANCHE. Killed by Shin-Ra.
- Jessie:Member of AVALANCHE. Faked IDs for herself and fellow members so they could pass through Shin-Ra's security checkpoints without being detected. She also gives Cloud a lesson on the Midgar rail system and the structure of the city itself. Killed by Shin-Ra.
- Marlene: The young daughter of Barret's friend, Dyne. Adopted by Barret after Dyne's death. She is left with Elmyra during the game.
- President Shin-Ra: Head of Shin-Ra Corporation. Sends "Airbuster" to kill Cloud, Tifa, and Barret. Cloud's group is taken before him after the Turks foil their plan to escape from Shin-Ra Laboratories with Aeris. He tells them that Aeris is an Ancient and that they plan to use her to find the Promised Land, where they can build a new Midgar in a Mako-rich environment. He then sends them to be locked up. He is found dead with Sephiroth's sword stuck through him.
- Rufus Shin-Ra: Son of President Shin-Ra & Vice president of Shin-Ra. He became the president of Shin-Ra after his father's death. When the group hears that he isn't controlling Shin-Ra for the money, like his father, they are relieved, only to be shocked when he reveals he controls it for the power and fear it gives him over the people. Ruthless entrepreneur who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Eventually, he and Cloud's group put their differences aside to fight their common foes, Meteor and Sephiroth. Rufus' determination finally comes in handy to the good guys when he uses Shin-Ra's resources to defeat two Weapons and break the barrier surrounding Sephiroth's crater. Unfortunately, he is killed by one final blast from Diamond Weapon. But the cast of characters in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children shows that he may not be dead after all.
- Heidegger: Shin-Ra employee. Head of Public Safety Maintainence, which is just a euphemism for the Shin-Ra military, the elite SOLDIER unit, and the Turks. Death unconfirmed but probable.
- Scarlet: Shin-Ra employee. Head of Shin-Ra Weapon Development. Wants to make the perfect weapon, but doesn't trust Heidigger to use it properly. Helps in creating a large mako cannon, Sister Ray, used to fight Weapon. About the most competent and ruthless Shin-Ra employee next to Rufus. Death unconfirmed but probable.
- Reeve: Member of Shin-Ra who disagrees with Heidigger about the plan to destroy Sector 7. Head of the Urban Development Department. The man who controls Cait Sith. Discovers that Hojo is sending power to the Sister Ray that will destroy Midgar.
- Tseng: Leader of the Turks. Revealed to Aeris that she was an Ancient. Killed by Sephiroth. Before he dies, he hands the Keystone to Cloud and says that the Promised Land is not what Rufus and the others think it will be.
- Reno: Member of the Turks. Sets the bombs to blow up Sector 7. Later, he tells Cloud that he sees no point in fighting any more and calls a truce.
- Rude: Member of the Turks.
- Elena: Newest member of the Turks. Has a crush on Tseng. Stupidly reveals that the Turks are chasing Sephiroth and that they are headed for Junon Harbor. Blames Cloud for killing Tseng.
- Don Corneo: Runs a brothel. Connected to Shin-Ra in some way. Mostly around for sexual comedy relief.
- Elmyra Gainsborough: Aeris' adoptive mother. Received Aeris from Ifalna, who had just escaped Shin-Ra Headquarters and was dying. Became aware of Aeris' powers when the young girl sensed something was wrong when they first met. Soon after, Elmyra learned that her husband had been killed.
- Palmer: Incompetent head of Shin-Ra's Space Program. Reveals that Sephiroth is trying to take the Promised Land from Shin-Ra. Arrives with Rufus to Rocket Town to steal Cid's plane, the "Tiny Bronco." Hit by a truck as he tries to escape Cloud and company.
- Dyne: Barret's best friend and father of Marlene. Believed to be dead after Shin-Ra attacked their hometown of Corel. Actually survived and remained in Corel. Barret meets up with him when Cloud's group is arrested by Dio for murdering the Gold Saucer's employees. Reports claimed that a man with a machine gun for an arm was responsible. Turns out it was Dyne, not Barret. Dyne tells Barret that he cannot go on living as a twisted, angry man. He entrusts Marlene to Barret forever, and kills himself by jumping off a cliff.
- Hojo: The scientist sent by Shin-Ra to assist Professor Gast with the Jenova Project. Impregnated Lucrecia, a young scientist who was the object of Vincent Valentine's affection. Hojo, having no luck using full-grown humans and creatures in his Jenova experiments, decides to use his unborn child instead. He injects Lucrecia and the baby with Jenova cells. Lucrecia becomes very sick and upon delivering the baby becomes altered beyond recovery. Vincent then confronts Hojo, but he is incapacitated and subject to more Jenova treatments. Hojo then stores Jenova in the Mako Plant and takes his perfect newborn baby son away to Midgar, where he can be observed by Shin-Ra as he grows. The boy is named Sephiroth and is never told who his parents are. Hojo tracks down Gast, who has since left Shin-Ra, and kills him. He captures his wife, Ifalna, who is one of the last living Ancients on the planet, and his daughter, Aeris, for research purposes. Performs Jenova- and Mako-related experiments on Cloud and Zack after they are found at the Nibelheim reactor, 5 years ago. Killed by Cloud and company after he injects his own body with Jenova cells, causing him to mutate uncontrollably.
- Zack: A SOLDIER from Gongaga. While stationed in Midgar, he met and dated Aeris. Sent, along with Cloud and Sephiroth, to investigate reports of monsters disrupting life for the workers at Mt. Nibel Mako Reactor. When Sephiroth goes insane, Cloud and Zack are taken prisoner in the Shin-Ra Mansion. They later escape, but Zack is shot dead once Shin-Ra finds them. Cloud takes his outfit and Buster sword afterwards.
- Zangan: The martial arts master under whom Tifa trained.
- Bugenhagen: Nanaki's grandfather. Has an observatory at the top of Cosmo Canyon. Explains the Lifestream to Cloud's group. Tells Nanaki the truth about his father. He's the one that figures out that the power needed to defeat Sephiroth and Meteor is "Holy."
- Ifalna: Aeris' birth mother. One of the last Ancients alive on the planet. Found by Dr. Gast in Icicle Inn, where he records a series of interviews with her. The two fall in love, and after Gast leaves Shin-Ra, have a daughter named Aeris. Hojo tracks them down a few years later and kills Gast. Ifalna escapes with Aeris as far as the Sector 7 station in Midgar. Here, exhausted and wounded, she hands Aeris over to Elmyra Gainsborough and dies.
- Professor Gast: Aeris' birth father. Found Jenova while excavating in the Northern crater. Takes Jenova to Nibelheim, where he begins to research her origins and powers. At this point he believes her to be an Ancient. Shin-Ra becomes very interested in his work and offers him money and assistance to carry on with the Jenova Project. Later, Gast left the project, most likely after Hojo began his warped experiments on live people. Realizing that he had no way of stopping the Shin-Ra scientist, Gast decided to get away before Shin-Ra found that he had outlived his usefulness. He decides to travel the planet, possibly looking for more information on the Ancients. On his journey, he meets Ifalna, one of the last Ancients on the planet. They fall in love and retire to Icicle Inn on the Northern Continent. Gast does not officially leave Shin-Ra, but he does not tell them of his whereabouts. Soon after Aeris' birth, Hojo finally tracks Gast down. He tries to take Aeris and Ifalna away for his experiments. Gast and Ifalna refuse. Gast is killed and Aeris and Ifalna are captured.
- Lucrecia: Young female scientist who assisted Hojo and Gast in the Jenova Project conducted in the basement laboratory of Nibelheim Mansion. Object of Vincent Valentine's affection, but declines his proposal of marriage because she has fallen in love with Hojo. Becomes pregnant by Hojo, who injects her and her unborn child with Jenova cells. Disgusted with what she has done and afraid of the effects Jenova cells could have on her body, she isolates herself in a waterfall cave, where she is confident she will never be able to harm anyone again. However, Jenova gives her unnaturally long life and toughness, and she is discovered by her true love, Vincent, roughly 30 years later.
- Shera: Cid's assistant. Tells Cloud's group that Rufus is on his way to discuss reopening the space program. Blamed by Cid for messing up the launch of No.26.
- Priscilla: The little girl that Cloud's group rescues from a monster called Bottomswell. Tells them about how beautiful Junon used to be until Shin-Ra built the city above it. Hates Shin-Ra for that reason. Also tells them about the high-voltage current running underneath the tower.
- Dio: Manager of the Gold Saucer Entertainment Complex. When he hears reports of a man with a gun for an arm has murdered his employees, he arrests Barret's group and places them in Corel Prison. Later lends the Keystone to them that will open the Temple of the Ancients.
- Mr. Coates: Runs the Chocobo Race in the Gold Saucer.
- Ester: Offers to be Cloud's manager in the Chocobo Race. Teaches Cloud how to ride a chocobo.
- Joe: One of the top Chocobo Race jockeys.
- Seto: Nanaki's father. Fought off the Gi, a vicious tribe that attacked Cosmo Canyon. Turned to stone in the process. Nanaki is never told the truth as to where his father went and grows up believing that Seto abandoned the Canyon to the Gi like a coward.
- Chekhov: One of the guys Yuffie fights on her sidequest.
- Staniv: One of the guys Yuffie fights on her sidequest.
- Shake: One of the guys Yuffie fights on her sidequest.
- Gorky: The first guy Yuffie fights on her sidequest.
- Godo Kisaragi: Yuffie's father, and the leader of Wutai. Wutai was the enemy Shin-Ra fought in a war that occured around the time of Sephiroth's birth; in fact, Sephiroth was part of Hojo, Lucrecia, and Dr. Gast's work in a super-weapon project to defeat Wutai. As a condition of its surrender, Wutai was not allowed to possess any materia and was reduced to a tourist town. Meant to mirror the situation of Japan post-WWII.
- Myrna Wallace: Barret's wife. Killed by Shin-Ra when they destroyed Corel.
- Eleanor: Dyne's wife. Killed by Shin-Ra when they destroyed Corel.
- Holzoff: A man that lives in a small house at the bottom of Glacial Cliff. He tells Cloud's group that many hundred years, ago something fell from the sky in the nearby area.
- Midgar- The city where Shin-Ra and AVALANCHE are based. Starting place of the game.
- Sector 7 Slums- Home to Tifa's 7th Heaven, AVALANCHE's base of operations.
- Wall Market- Don Corneo's Mansion and the Honey Bee Inn; the only way to get to Shin-Ra's HQ.
- Shin-Ra Headquarters- A 70 story building that houses the different divisions of Shin-Ra.
- Fort Condor- A large fort for some people where there is a large Condor that sits on the top. Shin-ra has been invading there many times to get to the broken reactor at the top. The Condor sits on an egg and guards a very useful materia.
- Junon- Built overhead a small fishing town of the same name, Junon is a military base. Attacked by WEAPON in Disc 2.
- Costa del Sol- A port town on the western continent, where your ship docks. If you have 300,000 gil, you can buy President Shin-Ra's summer cottage. Also has a beach where there are many surfers and swimmers and you find Hojo there.
- North Corel- The remains of Barret's hometown.
- Gold Saucer- Built near Corel's ruins, the Gold Saucer is an amusement park operated by Shin-Ra.
- Gongaga- The remains of a town destroyed by a reactor explosion. Zack lived here.
- Cosmo Canyon- Red XIII's hometown, also called the Valley of the Fallen Star.
- Nibelheim- Cloud and Tifa's hometown; burnt down by Sephiroth and rebuilt by Shin-Ra.
- Rocket Town- Cid's hometown, site of the rocket that is flown into Meteor.
- Wutai- Yuffi's hometown, where Don Corneo reappears.
- Temple of the Ancients- Where the promised land was believed to be. This is where Black Materia is found. The site of Aeris' death in Disc 1.
- Icicle Inn- Aeris' hometown, site of her old house.
- Mideel- Hot springs town destroyed by WEAPON and unstable mako flow, Cloud appears here after falling into the lifestream.
- Northern Crater- Where Sephiroth's real body was hidden. Site of the Reunion; the final dungeon.
- Materia Caves- Caves scattered around where you can find valuable materia; must have a special chocobo to reach.
Nobuo Uematsu's twenty-second work for Squaresoft. There is an original 4-disc version containing music directly from the game, as well as a single-disc album, titled "Final Fantasy VII: Reunion", which is a collection of the most popular tracks, some of which have been orchestrated. On the original game discs, the music was packaged in MIDI files; many fans have released different versions of this music featuring different soundfonts, creating different styles and qualities. Uematsu's band The Black Mages made a new version of the Boss Fight theme 'Those Who Fight Further' in 2003. Popular pieces from the production include Aeris' Theme, a subdued and melodic character description, and One-Winged Angel, the first composition with recorded voices that was created for the series; a fierce and powerful orchestral piece, which is also used in trailers for the game's sequel, Advent Children.
Reappearances of FFVII Characters
Final Fantasy VII proved to be so popular that several characters from the game have appeared in other Square games. Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, Vincent, Yuffie and Zack are playable characters in the fighting game Ehrgeiz. Cloud appears as a secret character (in a scene with Aeris) in Final Fantasy Tactics. Cloud, Aeris (as Aerith), Yuffie, Cid, and Sephiroth appear in Kingdom Hearts. Cloud also appears in Chocobo Racing as a secret character, totalling five games he has appeared in. Most of the characters from Final Fantasy VII reappeared in the four-part spinoff series Compilation of Final Fantasy VII released between 2004 and 2006 and consisting of Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus and Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.
The characters of Final Fantasy VII are incredibly popular among the RPG fanbase. Cloud won the 2003 GameFAQs character battle, suggesting that he is one of, if not the most, popular character of all time. Interestingly enough, Sephiroth, a villain, came in second. Though there are who those who feel that the character battle was a haven for Square & Nintendo fanboys.
- Square-Enix official Final Fantasy VII website (http://www.square-enix.com/games/ff7/)
- Official Final Fantasy VII Advent children website (http://www.square-enix.co.jp/dvd/ff7ac/)
- Final Fantasy VII Shrine (http://www.ffshrine.org/ff7/ff7.php)
- Final Fantasy VII Citadel (http://www.ff7citadel.com/)