I adore Final Fantasy VII, and I was similarly enamored with Remake. Given the latter game’s events and the tantalizing trailer for its second part, Rebirth, it had me thinking that it may be a good time to dust off my copy of 2008’s Crisis Core. Square Enix read my mind by announcing a remaster of Zack Fair’s PSP adventure, christening it with the subtitle “Reunion,” giving newcomers the answer to the question of “who the heck was that black-haired fella in Remake?” As for me, I thought I had a good reason to return to the game. After playing a decent chunk of Reunion at Tokyo Game Show, I’m all good.
My expectations were always reasonable. Reunion is a remaster, not a remake the scale of, well, Remake. That means that feature-wise, the best way to sum it up is “That PSP game? You can play it on consoles now, and it looks nicer.” Square Enix has made this clear from the beginning, so it’s on you if you expect Reunion to be anything more than that.
However, I think a part of me still wanted to find some excuse or new hook to replay the adventure. That’s odd in itself. I enjoyed Crisis Core, but most of that affection stemmed from its narrative. And that’s an element I can relieve through the magic of YouTube. The gameplay? I found it serviceable at best in 2008. It felt repetitive and kind of weird, thanks to the slot machine-style limit breaks. The basic hack n slash combat can be fun in a mindless sense, but it was mostly a tolerable exercise of mashing the square button until the next cool plot point. That hasn’t changed here.
As I cut down Wutai soldiers, those big twin ogre things, and eventually Ifrit, I already felt my old fatigue with the gameplay return. The novelty of witnessing Crisis Core’s glow-up faded, and I was hit with the overwhelming feeling of “Oh right. It really is just this game again”. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to play a version of Crisis Core with traditional camera controls while using a regular controller. It also looks better. Not stunning, but better. By the time I wrapped up the demo, though, I could only see Reunion appealing to FFVII Remake fans itching to absorb more of this universe or Zack’s most rabid followers. If you’re like me and you only “like” Crisis Core, but you don’t “like like” it, Reunion likely won’t raise your opinion of the experience, especially if you were already lukewarm on the action.
I’m not at all disappointed by this revelation, if you can even call it that. And I don’t think Reunion needs to be anything more than what it’s always been marketed as. Rather, I’m relieved to have exorcised any sense of obligation to revisit this beloved prequel because I’m really not missing anything. The good stuff i.e. the story is (probably) still good, and the less great stuff is…you get the idea. I’m interested in hearing what first-timers think of Zack come December 13, but there’s not much to see for the rest of us.