Back when the PSP was the console everyone wanted, hack-and-slash games were the majority of action games that became popular. One of the most popular on PSP was Crisis Core. Crisis Core was the first game that got me into the Final Fantasy VII story. I thought it would be great to play the game again and then play the remastered version, Reunion, with whatever new additions they added. Crisis Core, for those who don’t know, is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII telling the story of Zack Fair and the other SOLDIERs and “heroes” – including Cloud Strife, Sephiroth, Angeal, Genesis, Yuffie, the Turks, Tifa, and Aerith – and the events leading up to the beginning of FF7. Square Enix knows how to tell an epic story, especially a Final Fantasy story. Crisis Core has gotten many to play the original Final Fantasy VII, and even, they’re now playing Final Fantasy VII Remake, Intergrade, and waiting for the release of Rebirth in 2023.
There are two modes in Reunion: story and hard. The story mode is easy to play through, and fights are a cakewalk, so the player can experience the whole story. Hard mode is slightly difficult, but the 2008 version of Crisis Core‘s hard mode was much harder, as many players were kids and hadn’t played many difficult games. I remember people discussing game difficulty and how many tries it took them to beat Crisis Core, Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3, and Army of Two. Hard mode has increased health for enemies and more frequent and harder-hitting attacks. Reunion’s difficulty seems easier nowadays compared to what it was back in 2008. If you played any recent game with a hard mode, there are all of these features and enhanced CPU behavior. The time you’ll spend completing the story is roughly 35 hours. Still, to do all missions, New Game Plus will double your playtime, or make it last a little longer, even if you started with story mode and then switched to hard mode for New Game Plus.
Adventuring with Zack through Crisis Core is seeing a boy become a hero. This has just the same amount of emotional pull as the main story of Final Fantasy VII. Most of Zack’s dialogue is very cheesy, and you will shake your head or facepalm at his lines. The dialogue from other characters is either upbeat or grim. In the original Final Fantasy VII, Zack is barely mentioned at all, but in Remake, certain characters refer to him. Reading mail and talking to NPCs will give you the sense that the world is bigger but not infinite. After all, the Final Fantasy VII story only revolves around the main characters that everyone knows, with the addition of a few others like Angeal and Genesis. Telling the story’s main points would reveal spoilers, but Midgar and Wutai, the nations, are at war. Zack is a part of the military unit called SOLDIER. Everything starts going sideways with the top soldiers of SOLDIER, and Zack tries to make things right. For the rest of the story, you have to experience it yourself.
The sound and graphics have been “remastered.” I say it like that because a lot of the cutscenes are updated straight from the PSP files, which is a disappointment. A recreation of the cutscenes would have been better. Still, knowing how Square Enix does remasters, it’s only upgraded enough to be passable. The actual gameplay and animation graphics have been updated with Unreal Engine 4, so the game looks almost as good as the Final Fantasy VII Remake. The sound also got the remaster treatment with new voice actors and amped OST, giving the tracks that oomph. The new voice actors with the music seem way better than they were on PSP, but that’s probably because I’m playing on PS5 and a 4K TV. With the game running at 60 fps on newer-gen and PC and 30 fps on last-gen consoles, animations are smooth. The sounds of attacks and summons have a hard-hitting tone and complexity.
As this is a remaster of the 2008 PSP game, the complexity of the gameplay is at its maximum, and that extends to what items you want to use for your character. The gameplay cycle is cutscene, narrow corridor, wide area, fight enemies, heal, and repeat. To break up the continuous playing of the story, some missions have you fighting enemies to get items that make Zack more powerful. This game is a Final Fantasy hack-and-slash, just like others in its genre, such as Devil May Cry and God of War. Most enemies fall to the wayside unless you play in hard mode, and the bosses are where the real challenge is. Bosses have a special attack that you can stop them from using if you deplete the gauge to zero. Throughout Crisis Core, there are mini-games that change the pace of the game.
Crisis Core is an excellent game for the story alone. This is a must-play to get context for Final Fantasy VII‘s plot and learn how Cloud, Sephiroth, and Zack are all connected. The hack-and-slash gameplay is okay, but only so much can be done for a remastered version of a 2008 game. The music and sounds are something that will catch you off-guard, especially when you hear the orchestra play some of the most famous songs from Final Fantasy VII. The gameplay and animation graphics are upgraded, but the cutscenes are lackluster. With roughly 35 hours of playtime till the end of the story, it might be more of a challenge to play story mode first and then hard mode for the New Game Plus. I recommend Crisis Core to people who are or would be invested in the Final Fantasy VIIRemake series.
Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 Reunion Review (2022)
Gameplay - 7.8
Difficulty/Length - 6.7
Story - 8.8
Graphics - 7.2
Sound Design - 8
Crisis Core has a great story mode, upgraded graphics and sound, and offers much-needed context for Final Fantasy VII, but the gameplay and cutscenes are mediocre.