At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Ross Gilder PlayStation 2 Square Enix Square Enix 1
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Memory Card: 90KB Minimum Click here to buy Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus.

Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus review

If you're going to make a game based on the Final Fantasy VII universe, there are really only two characters that they could have chosen, Cloud Strife, or Vincent Valentine. Luckily when Square Enix, made Dirge of Cerberus, they chose my favourite character, Vincent Valentine.

Dirge of Cerberus is not your traditional Square Enix game. For one thing, the game isn't an RPG in the strictest sense; it's a third/first person shooter. For another, it uses a level system. All that said, this is very much a game that follows in Square Enix's RPG ideals. Take, for example, that after every level/death you get a certain amount of experience points, which you can then use to either upgrade your characters' stats, or you can exchange your points for money that can be used to buy new items and weaponry. Both options have their advantages; it's basically a choice between being able to cause more damage, or being able to last a bit longer in battle. This means you'll probably want to mix it up a bit as you go through the game.

The missions in Dirge of Cerberus are long; there are about ten full length missions, which will take over an hour each. Then, to top it off they also have 40 extra "mini-missions", so to speak, that you can unlock once you've completed the main game. All of the missions take place somewhere in the FFVII universe, so it's nice to see all of the areas you know in glorious 3D, such as the Sector 7 slums or the mansion in which you originally met Vincent, and they are instantly recognisable from the game, or FFVII: Advent Children (the CGI movie). Locations are fairly varied, even though you're mainly moving through industrial/futuristic environments.

The in-game graphics are a bit of a downer, though. It looks like a generic FPS for most of the time, and doesn't really give you anything pretty to look at, which is a shame seeing what Square Enix managed to do with the likes of Final Fantasy XII. The game's art style also seems a bit inconsistent; on the one hand you have the traditional Final Fantasy "pastel" style art, but then it seems as if they completely forgot about using this in other areas, and then they tried to mimic the art of futuristic shooters such as Halo. One of the things that I thought that the original FFVII did really well was to perfectly balance the art of the locale to what was happening there, so why they couldn't do the same again, I don't know. For example, one of the missions has you trying to save an organisation which is under attack. You start off in a forest, the sun is setting, it's the sort of art style that you'd expect for a picturesque forest, not an organisation under attack; it just doesn't feel right.

The story in the game isn't exactly brilliant either; it's engaging for the most part, but there isn't the standard Square Enix '5 hours' worth of pre-rendered videos' we all love, and there certainly isn't a deep enough story for me to care about what actually happened. It's sort of like a sub-plot that you'd expect to find in a full Final Fantasy game that's intertwined into a much bigger story. Admittedly, they do reveal some things about Valentine himself, but it's through a collection of small cut-scenes that build to gradually tell the story as you progress through the game. And they still don't really tell you who Valentine is, just how he became what he is.

The game pits you against about 10 different enemies total (excluding bosses), so there's not really much variety in what you're doing or how you do it. That said, there are sniping and sneaking missions just to mix up the gameplay. Bosses, on the other hand, are completely different to the rest of the enemies. They aren't exactly hard to beat most of the time, so long as you know what to do. Definitely much easier than anything you'll face in any Metroid Prime game, for sure. But that said, you'll find each of the bosses has a specific way to face them, which is good as it adds some variety to the action.

There are a couple things that bugged me in the game. My big one was the control scheme, which took a while to get used to. It may just be that I still can't stand the Dual Shock controllers, or it may be something else, but the controls just didn't feel "right". As well as this, there was an issue with the environmental collision detection, which seemed to just randomly block off some alleyways, or not let you do things that you would be able to do in other games. For example, Vincent can jump about 2 metres high, but he can't use this ability to jump over a half-metre high railing! Its annoying that they have made a 3D world you can see, but then they have also made another 3D world which says "no, you can't go here"! Another thing was that you only see Cloud once, or maybe twice, but that's just me being pedantic. But, moving onto a good point, the sound and music in the game is, in fact, really well done. It's traditional Final Fantasy music, and that's probably enough said.

Ratings

Graphics Graphics are a mixed bag; not bad, but not great. There is also an inconsistent art style, leaving it falling behind visual impressive titles from Square Enix like the recent Final Fantasy XII. 6/10
Gameplay Imperfect controls and a very linear progression. Bosses help to make up for the repetition of killing pretty much the same enemy over and over. 6/10
Value There's a fair bit to do, making it quite a comprehensive package, but you probably won't care for the game past the main story, making it worth less. 6/10
Lifespan 3 difficulty settings, 10 real missions, and about 40 extra mini ones. There's also unlockable art, movies, music, etc. 8/10
Audio Excellent traditional Final Fantasy-style pieces which are better than those found in FFXII, but where is the FFVII victory theme? Voice acting is excellent too. 9/10
Overall It's hard to not recommend this game to a Final Fantasy fan, but it feels as if this game was rushed out before it was properly cooked. It appears complete on the surface, but there's a ton of areas that haven't been in the oven for long enough. 6/10

Click here to buy Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus from Amazon.co.uk.

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