I love Final Fantasy. I have ever since the bygone days of Final Fantasy II, which is to say I’ve been playing the genre for the better part of my life. Naturally, I was excited when they started remaking my all-time favorite installment, Final Fantasy VII, into a movie, Advent Children, and a spin-off game for the PS2.
Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus is a continuation of the original storyline three years after Meteor fell on Midgar. Strangely enough, the only character that you get to play the entire game (with the exception of one level as Cait Sith) is Vincent Valentine. I found this odd at first, considering he was an optional character in the original game. Still, his back story was already rich enough to give his character real depth, so it wasn’t an altogether bad choice.
Besides the fact that you only get one character, this title has many other huge differences with established Final Fantasy standards. For one, combat is real time and integrated into the world environment. There are no breaks between walking around and fighting, as in most Final Fantasy titles. In fact, the game play bears very little resemblance to the turn-based, menu-driven feel of its predecessors.
Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing. While it detracts from the Final Fantasy feel that we’ve all come to know and love, the game play is still quite enjoyable. It’s more of a third-person shooter with elements of melee combat thrown in for flavor, similar in feel to Devil May Cry or Resident Evil 4. Vincent will have the opportunity to assume the forms of the Galian beast and Chaos, just like his old limit breaks, and he’ll make use of the Potions, Ethers, and Materia that every Final Fantasy VII player knows by heart. And while you might not get to play them, most of the old characters make cameos, so the game isn’t totally disconnected from it’s past.
The amount of time it will take to beat this game is another element that makes it different from the other Final Fantasies. Whereas the RPGs are usually 30- or 40-hour ordeals, Dirge of Cerberus is easily doable in less than 10. On top of that, even with the extra mission scenarios thrown in on the side, the game itself doesn’t have much replay value. As always, I say rent it for a weekend of solid game play, but don’t waste your money buying it; it’s simply not worth the value.
It’s worth noting that I read XPlay’s review of Dirge of Cerberus and found their rating (2 out of 5) to be startlingly low. I’d say that their observation that the game has too many cut scenes is fair. I certainly found myself wishing they’d lay off the plot for a few minutes so I could have fun killing things on more than one occasion. Still, to say that this ruins the game entirely is an exaggeration.
I realize I’m biased, but long-time Final Fantasy players like me actually enjoy the story. To read this review makes it sound like the plot isn’t something the reviewer even cares about. Given that the title is a spin-off of a beloved game rather than a different game entirely, I’d say it’s a safe assumption that it was made largely with the original game’s audience in mind.
The conclusion, then, is that old fans of the series will probably love this game for what it’s worth while other players might not have as much fun. I, for one, thought it was a good installment. It certainly wasn’t as good as the original, but then there aren’t many games that can match such a landmark RPG.