Last night I finished playing Final Fantasy VII, so I can now confirm my prejudice that FF7 is overrated. The game itself is decent, but it didn't impress me nearly as much as some other RPGs of that era. Chrono Trigger (released a couple of years prior) and Fallout (released later that year), are both better games in my opinion, and many people believe Final Fantasy VI to be superior to VII. It seems to me like FF7's success is primarily a result of the times, of being perhaps the first major RPG on the PlayStation and, for many young gamers, their first RPG.
After numerous failed attempts at playing this game, I mentioned in my first impressions article that, after finally finishing the first disc, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was enjoying FF7. Unfortunately, as the game progressed, I started to grow weary of it, and the game stopped impressing me. There was still a ton of stuff left to do in the game (defeating the various Weapons, collecting final limit breakers and ultimate weapons, etc), but I was ready to be done with it and just pressed to the end. So here are my thoughts on the second half of Final Fantasy VII.
The main complaint I had with disc one was that so much of the plot amounted to just following Sephiroth's trail to stop him from reaching the promised land and doing .... something .... for some reason. It wasn't really clear until you meet him later and he actually explains his plan, so up until that point I was just pushing forward on the presumption that Seth (as I like to call him) is the bad guy and that whatever he's planning to do with the promised land (whatever that may be) would be bad for the planet, and that it's my civic duty as the protagonist to do whatever is necessary to advance the plot so I can get to the end of the game.
Needless to say, that's not a very compelling motivation, and I found it kind of difficult to care about saving the planet from some kind of theoretical threat. Well I found it even harder to care in disc two when the party's motivations clashed with my own. So Seth has summoned Meteor and now basically everyone's gonna die, unless Meteor is stopped. Shinra's plan is to collect Huge Materia and send it up on a rocket to destroy the meteor, and for some reason the party is quick to blurt out "We can't let Shinra get their hands on the Huge Materia," and then they spend the next ten or so hours of the game rushing to beat Shinra to the Huge Materia.
But it didn't seem to me like Cloud and company had a better plan for dealing with Meteor (or any plan at all). From what I can recall, all they knew was that Aeris planned to use White Materia to counter the Black Materia, but as far as the party knew, that plan failed when she died, and they had no idea where to find the White Materia or if they could even use it in the way she was intending (her being an Ancient and what not). So it seems to me like the party is against Shinra just because they're "the bad guys," even though they share the same goal of stopping Meteor. I feel like the story would've been much more interesting if they decided to work together at that point, or at the very least if they gave the party clearer reasons for opposing Shinra.
Meanwhile, I lost interest with Sephiroth as a villain. He was kind of interesting in the first half of the game as you learned his backstory, but then in the second half (when he actually becomes the villain) he basically goes off screen and does nothing the whole time. I don't really understand why he's so popular. Killing Aeris and messing with Cloud's mind are both pretty badass, but his angst over Jenova often made him sound like a whiny bitch who otherwise exhibits generic super-strength. I get the feeling most Sephiroth fanboys just have a man crush on how he looks, coupled with the fact that he's the villain from their most nostalgic RPG. I didn't feel it, I was just kind of underwhelmed by Sephiroth towards the end.
Another reason I grew kind of bored with the game throughout the second half was the relative lack of new environments. Part of the fun in games like these is discovering new places and talking to new people, but after the Mideel sequence where Cloud and Tifa fall into the lifestream, there really aren't any new places to visit. It's nice that the game has you return to familiar environments, because that emphasizes their permanence in the world (it's not like you're just sequentially going from town to town and each town becomes obsolete afterwards), but a few more new environments would've helped spice things up a bit.
Besides that, I felt like the whole game was way too easy. Except for the very beginning, I never felt challenged, and I never went out of my way grinding to high levels or anything. It seemed that by being thorough in my exploration I naturally became over-leveled and nothing posed much of a threat. Near the end, there was still plenty of end-game content to go after, in terms of unlocking each character's final weapon and final limit breaker, but I didn't feel like any of that was necessary to beat the game. It felt like going after that stuff would've just been a waste of time, and indeed, I made it through the third disc without any problems as I was.
Advent Children kind of sucked, too.
Then you've got all the typos. My god the typos. This might be the worst translation I've ever seen in a major game before, second only to Pathologic. "Do you want to keep going? Off course!" "Beacause you are a puppet!" It seemed like every fifth line of dialogue I was spotting a spelling error or some other kind of typographical error. Then you've got the plot twists that serve no purpose besides to convolute the plot while adding nothing to it. I mean, does it really matter that Hojo is Sephiroth's father? Everyone reacts in shock and surprise, but I was like "whatever." That one in particular feels like it was forced in at the last second just for the sake of drama.
In the grand scheme of things, Final Fantasy VII is a very important game. I think it deserves the legacy it's left behind, because it was a pretty good game for its time and certainly had a major impact on the PlayStation. But compared to other RPGs of the time, I find it kind of boring and underwhelming. Final Fantasy VII is definitely overrated, but that's not inherently a bad thing. If nothing else, I now feel compelled to play FFVI to see how it compares to VII.