Final Fantasy VII is a turn-based role-playing game. You play as Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins an environmentalist group called AVALANCHE, working to stop the Shinra Corporation from destroying the planet.
Pro Solid turn-based combat system with good character customization
The combat system is easy to get the hang of, even at higher levels of play with all the customization options. It starts off with the standard three characters who can attack, defend, and use magic or items one at a time. The game gradually introduces you to more systems, like how to get the most out of your magic and summon abilities to exploit enemy weaknesses. Every character starts off as a blank slate, so you can equip one person with a bunch of elemental magic and summons as your caster, another with special tools to learn monster abilities, and tons more. The system is simple, but intuitive enough for players of all skill levels to grasp.
Pro Memorable story that holds up well over time
Final Fantasy VII has an incredible story with a lot of thought and care put into it. Even with all the intrigue surrounding the environmentalist group named AVALANCHE fighting back against the evil Shinra Corporation who are destroying the planet, the narrative is still rooted in emotion. The characters you meet all come together for reasons that make sense, and the story affects each of them in ways that truly matter, especially the main protagonist, the mercenary Cloud Strife. The plot twists have weight in the way they challenge what's possible within the game's world, making for some truly stand-out moments. The story is one that stands the test of time and is still worth experiencing many years later.
Pro Diverse cast of characters from all walks of life
The many different characters you meet are all wonderful in their own ways. Cloud starts off aloof and uncaring, focused only on earning money from running missions with AVALANCHE, but he slowly begins to care about what the Shinra Corporation are doing to the planet. His childhood friend, Tifa, is much kinder and caring, encouraging him to change his ways and do what's right for the environment, even though she also has her own reasons for wanting him around.
Their leader is Barret, the loud-mouthed and aggressive man with a machine gun grafted on his arm, who's actually a warm-hearted father who wants to do right by his young child and protect the planet. They meet so many other personalities, like a sorrowful man who sleeps in a coffin as he mourns for his mistakes in life, and a dog-like creature from an endangered species who speaks intelligently. Everyone has such different worldviews and experiences, but they all manage to come together in ways that feel right for the story.
Pro Really great soundtrack
Final Fantasy VII has fantastic music. It's a beautiful collection of melodic sounds, from the simplicity of the opening prologue that plays when you boot up the game, to the more bombastic and orchestral themes that play during the iconic final boss. Each song fits the moments it plays in, adding even more humanity to a story about human greed and lusts for power leading to the near-destruction of the environment.
Pro Tons of challenging optional content
When you're up for a challenge, there's a lot to seek out in Final Fantasy VII. Near the end of the game, before going after the final boss, that's when you can access all of the side content, like the optional superbosses and hunting for rare summons and magic spells. There are also some non-battle-related things to do that are still somewhat difficult, like earning the best prizes in the Gold Saucer, the game's theme park, and becoming the best jockeys in one of the mini-games there. You can easily spend dozens of hours just getting through these challenges and earning the best rewards to power up your characters.
Pro Plenty of funny moments
There are some genuinely hilarious moments in the story. The game never takes itself too seriously, willing to be silly with comic mischief and ridiculousness for the sake of it. One of the best moments is a few hours into the story where Cloud goes on a rescue mission and has to go on a chain of quests to get prepared for the operation, finding himself in some seriously absurd situations that have become iconic over time. There are a lot of other funny scenes sprinkled throughout the game as well, keeping things entertaining to balance out some of the heavy themes that the story tackles.
Con Blocky character models haven't aged well
The most jarring flaw the game has is the graphics, especially the character models. Since Final Fantasy VII first came out in 1997, it's a given that the graphics are dated, but the characters just look distracting. They're shaped in weird ways, with huge, bulky forearms, tiny elbows, and giant shoulders with huge heads. It's comical enough to where it might not bother you too much.
Con It's not always clear where you're supposed to go next
While playing through the story, you may get lost from time to time. There are instances where the characters only give vague directions as to where you have to go next. Other times, the game makes you deliberately wander around looking for something without any hints on how close you are. You might want to look up a guide for these things, since it can be way too frustrating to keep running around without much guidance.
Con Battles are sometimes too easy
The downside of the accessible battle system is that it can be too simple. There are plenty of times where you only have to mash a single button to get through battles. Since the encounters are random, exploring areas can get boring when all you have to do is press one button to rush through the fights. Luckily, boss battles are more challenging and engaging, but you have to slog through the regular, repetitive fights first.