Written by Jeffrey Alleman
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a full reboot of Final Fantasy VII, originally developed by Square for the PlayStation console in 1997. The remake updates the game for a new generation of gamers through modernization of controls and mechanics, as well as enhancing the game for use with modern hardware. It looks stunning, and is high on everyone’s wish list, winning numerous awards at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), including the coveted Best of Show.
One aspect of the game that had returning players concerned is the combat system. Some want to see a return to the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, while others hope to see the combat updated and adapted to include a battle system like recent entries in the franchise. What’s shocking is that Square Enix somehow has created a new combat system that caters to both parties!
In the battle system for Final Fantasy VII Remake, players control one of the characters currently active in the player’s party but can switch between them at will. For example, the player can use Cloud to strike enemies at close range, then switch to Barret to attack an enemy that is out of Cloud’s reach utilizing Barret’s gun arm. This all happens in real time with the player and the enemy adjusting based off the actions of the other. Where Square Enix has really succeeded is the implementation of the new strategic, command-based combat. In this system, the player has a battle gauge that slowly fills throughout the fight and can fill faster through use of standard attacks on enemies. Once full, the player can slow the action to a crawl and issue orders to any character whose gauge is full. Options include using items, materia, and abilities, including Limits, which make a return from the original.
After playing the demo at E3, I can say that the new strategic, command-based system is a seamless blend of the old ATB system and modern game mechanics that will satisfy both new and veteran players. Another mechanic of the new combat system worth pointing out is actions taken utilizing the battle gauge can be interrupted by strong enemy attacks, as I encountered during the final fight of the demo. This resulted in the action not taking place, as well as the battle gauge needing to be recharged to be utilized again.
Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released in episodic format, with the first episode releasing on PlayStation 4 March 3rd, 2020, and is currently not slated to be released on other platforms.
Jeffrey Alleman is an aspiring games journalist currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Video Game Studies. You can watch him stream at https://mixer.com/IRownanI