Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game developed bySquare (now Square Enix) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment as the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was originally released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation. It was re-released in 1998 for MicrosoftWindows-based personal computers and in 2009 on the PlayStation Network. The game is the first in the series to use 3D computer graphics, featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds, and was the first game in the series to be released in Europe.
Development of Final Fantasy VII began in 1994 and the game was originally intended for release on the SNES, but it was later moved to the Nintendo 64. However, since the Nintendo 64's cartridges lacked the required storage capacity, Square decided to release the game for the PlayStation instead. The music was scored by Final Fantasyveteran Nobuo Uematsu, while the series' long-time character designer, Yoshitaka Amano, was replaced byTetsuya Nomura.
Set in a dystopian world, Final Fantasy VII's story centers on mercenary Cloud Strife who joins with several others to stop the megacorporation Shinra, which is draining the life of the planet to use as an energy source. As the story progresses, the situation escalates and Cloud and his allies face Sephiroth, the game's main antagonist.
Helped by a large promotional campaign in the months prior to its release, Final Fantasy VII became an immediate critical and commercial success. In the years following, it has continued to sell solidly—9.8 million copies worldwide as of December 2005, making it the best-selling title in the series. Final Fantasy VII received significant praise upon its release for its graphics, gameplay, music and story as well as criticism pertaining to its Englishlocalization. It has retrospectively been acknowledged as the game that popularized the console role-playing gamegenre outside of the Japanese market, and has frequently ranked highly on numerous professional and fan-made "greatest games of all time" lists. The popularity of the title led Square Enix to produce a series of prequels and sequels for different platforms under the collective title Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. An enhanced remake for the PlayStation 3 has been rumored since 2005, though Square Enix have formally stated that no such product is in development at the time;however, in March 2010, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada told the media that the company would explore the possibility of a remake
Like previous installments of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII consists primarily of three major modes: an overworld map, field maps, and a battle screen. The overworld map is a 3D model, featuring a scaled-down version of the game's fictional world which the player navigates to travel between the game's locations.As with preceding games in the series, the world map can be traversed by foot, on chocobos, airship, or sea vessel (in this case, a submarine and a plane used as a boat), but it also includes an additional means of transportation—a buggy.On field maps, characters are directed across realistically scaled environments, consisting of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds which represent locations such as towns or forests.The battle screen is a 3D representation of an area, such as a building's interior or an open grassland, in which the player commands the characters in battles against CPU-controlled enemies.While characters are super deformed on maps, the character models are more realistic and normal-scaled in combat.Final Fantasy VII is the first game in the series to have character models with fully-rendered polygons, rather than 2D sprites.
Initially, the player is restricted to the city of Midgar, but as the game progresses the entire world becomes accessible.Progression through the game's storyline is largely developed by way of scripted sequences, although pre-rendered cinematic cut scenes are also used often.
During battle sequences, the game uses the Active Time Battle (ATB) system designed by Hiroyuki Ito, first featured inFinal Fantasy IV. Unlike previous games in the series, which allow 4-5 playable characters to participate in battle, Final Fantasy VII only allows three characters to be in the party at any time.
Final Fantasy VII's skill system is built around the use of materia (which any character can use)—magical orbs that are placed in special slots on weapons and armor, allowing players to customize their party's ability to use magic, summons, and special abilities. However, most magic-based materia also lowers an equipped character's physical attributes. In addition, certain types of materia can be combined in a fixed number of ways to enhance their effects or produce other abilities.[Summon spells feature in the game, equippable as materia, with elaborately animated attacks.
A modified form of Final Fantasy VI's "Desperation Attacks" appears in Final Fantasy VII as the "Limit Break". Every playable character has a bar that gradually fills up as they suffer damage in battle. When the bar is completely filled, the character is able to unleash his or her Limit Break, a special attack which generally inflicts significantly more damage on enemies than normal attacks, or otherwise aids the party in battle.Unlike materia, each character has their own unique set of Limit Breaks, which are divided into four levels of strength.The game's setting follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy VI by presenting a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction.The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to in the game as "The Planet", but retroactively named "Gaia", is composed of three main land masses. The eastern continent features the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the capital city of the world as it hosts headquarters of the Shinra, who operate as the de facto world government. Other locations on the continent are Junon, Shinra's major military base; Fort Condor, a fort with a huge condor covering up a Mako reactor on top of it; a chocobo ranch; and Kalm, a small town inspired by medieval Europe.
The western continent features most of the accessible areas, which include the Gold Saucer, an amusement park with Corel Prison below; Costa Del Sol, a seaside resort; Gongaga, a small town containing the remains of a destroyed Mako reactor; Nibelheim, a town residing at the base of Mt. Nibel; Rocket Town, the location of Shinra's failed rocket launch; and a settlement called Cosmo Canyon. Wutai, a village inspired by pre-modern Japan and China, is located on a large island off the western continent. The tribe inhabiting Cosmo Canyon emphasize living in harmony with nature and dedicating causes to the planet's well-being.Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as the "Study of Planet Life", a lifestyle that encourages deference for nature and teaches that the planet has a life of its own.the northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated landmass, and its few settlements include an excavation site; a ski resort; the mythical "City of the Ancients"; and the Northern Crater, where the game's climax takes place. There are also underwater locations accessible via submarine, such as a sunken plane transporter.
The nine main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are Cloud Strife, an unsociable mercenary who claims to be a former 1st Class member of Shinra's SOLDIER unit;Barret Wallace, the leader of the anti-Shinra rebel group AVALANCHE; Tifa Lockhart, a martial artist and childhood friend of Cloud's; Aeris Gainsborough,a flower merchant who has been pursued by Shinra's special operations unit, the Turks, since childhood;Red XIII, a wise lion-like creature who was experimented on by Shinra scientists; Cait Sith, a fortune-telling robotic cat who rides an animatedmoogle doll;Cid Highwind, a pilot whose dreams of being the first man in outer space were crushed;Yuffie Kisaragi, a young thief and a skillful ninja; and Vincent Valentine, a former member of Shinra's Turks unit who was killed and brought back to life as an immortal.The game's main antagonist is Sephiroth, a former member of SOLDIER who reappears several years after disappearing in a battle in which he was concluded to have died.
The game's character designer, Tetsuya Nomura, has expressed that Final Fantasy VII was hindered by graphical limitations, and as such his designs were very plain in comparison to his real style. Cloud's original design of slicked back black hair with no spikes was intended to serve as a contrast to Sephiroth's long, flowing silver hair. Nomura feared that such masculinity could prove to be unpopular with fans, and therefore he changed Cloud's design to feature a shock of spiky, bright blond hair. Tifa's outfit with her dark miniskirt was designed to contrast Aeris's long, pink dress. Vincent's character developed from horror researcher to detective, then to chemist, and finally to the figure of a former Turk with a tragic past. Nomura has indicated that Cid Highwind's fighting style resembles that of a Dragoon Knight, a character class which was chosen because his last name is the same as that of two previous Dragoon Knights featured in theFinal Fantasy series, Ricard Highwind of Final Fantasy II and Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV.
Several characters from Final Fantasy VII have made cameo appearances in other Square Enix titles, most notably the fighting game Ehrgeiz and the popular Final Fantasy-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts. Dissidia: Final Fantasy is the newest game to include Final Fantasy VII characters such as Cloud and Sephiroth and lets players battle it out with characters from other Final Fantasy games. Aeris' death in the game has often been referred as one of the most emotional moments from any video game.Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history, unanimously voted #1 by the staff of gaming publication Electronic Gaming Monthly in their "Top 10 Video Game Bosses" list in October 2005,.and winning GameFAQs' best villain contest in spring of the same year.
Final Fantasy VII begins with Cloud joining AVALANCHE in a series of raids against the Mako reactors surrounding the city of Midgar. Although the first mission is successful, AVALANCHE is trapped at another reactor during a subsequent raid. The reactor explodes, launching Cloud from the upper levels of Midgar into the slums below. He lands on a flower bed, where he is formally introduced to Aeris.Prompted by the arrival of Shinra's Turks operatives sent to capture Aeris, Cloud agrees to be Aeris' bodyguard and defends her from the Turks.After the Shinra discover the location of AVALANCHE's hideout,they destroy it by demolishing the entirety of Sector 7, killing its population and three members of AVALANCHE. The Turks also capture Aeris, who is revealed to be the last surviving "Cetra",a race closely attuned with the planet and previously thought extinct. President Shinra believes Aeris can lead him to the "Promised Land", a mythical land of fertility, where he expects to find Mako energy
The remaining members of AVALANCHE infiltrate Shinra corporate headquarters to rescue Aeris. After freeing her and Red XIII, they escape because most of the personnel in the building, including the president, are killed by Sephiroth, a man presumed to be dead, who stated that he would never allow Shinra to claim the Promised Land.The party also learns that during Sephiroth's attack on Shinra, the headless body of a creature named "Jenova" disappeared from the building's research facility.While the president's son, Rufus Shinra, assumes control of the company, AVALANCHE pursues Sephiroth across the planet, fearing his intentions for the Promised Land may be more destructive than Shinra's. The party is joined by Cait Sith and Cid, and optionally by Vincent and Yuffie. The full scope of Sephiroth's plan is eventually revealed: if the world is significantly damaged, the Lifestream will gather in an attempt to heal the wound. Sephiroth intends to use a powerful spell called "Meteor" to cause this injury, and then merge with the planet's energy, allowing him to be reborn as a god and rule over the planet.aeris sets off to stop Sephiroth on her own. AVALANCHE follow her to the northern continent, where they enter an ancient Cetra city. After finding Aeris praying to the planet for aid, Sephiroth fatally impales Aeris with his sword.
Influenced by Sephiroth, Cloud becomes suspicious of his memories and insists he is not a real human, but instead a specimen created from Jenova's genetic material by Professor Hojo. Jenova was an interstellar creature who crash landed on the planet roughly 2,000 years prior to the game's events. Jenova had intended to infect all living organisms on the planet with a virus inducing insanity and monstrous transformations;among its victims were most of the Cetra. Attempting to defend itself, the planet created giant monsters called "WEAPON". The majority of humans fled rather than fight Jenova; however, a small group of Cetra survivors managed to defeat and confine Jenova. Eventually, the remains of Jenova were unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for the Shinra Company. Mistaking the creature for a Cetra, Gast was given authorization to conduct an experiment to artificially produce a Cetra by combining cells from Jenova with the fetus of an unborn child.Sephiroth learned that he was the product of this experiment while on a Shinra mission in Cloud and Tifa's hometown, Nibelheim. He concluded that he was a Cetra who had been produced solely from Jenova's genetic material. He burned down Nibelheim, intending to kill all descendants of those he believed had abandoned his ancestors in the defense of the planet. Cloud confronted Sephiroth during this massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished under unknown circumstances and was presumed dead until his reappearance in the Shinra building. When AVALANCHE travels to the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth, he tells Cloud that he was not in Nibelheim, showing him images of a SOLDIER with dark hair who occupies Cloud's place in his memories.Tifa is unable to refute Sephiroth's claims, and Sephiroth casts the Meteor spell, causing the planet to awaken the WEAPONs in response. During the earthquake that follows, Cloud is separated from his companions and falls into the Lifestream.
As the meteor summoned by Sephiroth slowly approaches the planet, the Shinra Company focuses its efforts on protecting humanity from the WEAPONs, as well as defeating Sephiroth, in the hopes that this will dismiss Meteor itself. Meanwhile, the members of AVALANCHE find Cloud in a catatonic state on a tropical resort where he washed up following the casting of Meteor. The WEAPONs' destructive activity causes the island to split open, and Cloud and Tifa fall into the Lifestream, where she reconstructs Cloud's memories and learns the truth about his past. It is revealed that Cloud never succeeded in joining SOLDIER, and that the dark-haired SOLDIER from his memories was actually Aeris's first love and Cloud's best friend, Zack Fair. Zack, Tifa, and Cloud had fought Sepiroth during the burning of Nibelheim. Although Tifa and Zack were defeated, Cloud and Sephiroth severely wounded one another. After decapitating Jenova, Sephiroth was thrown into the Lifestream by Cloud, taking the creature's head with him. Rather than dying, his body and consciousness were crystallized in Mako inside Jenova's crater.
Cloud and Zack were among the wounded survivors who were apprehended by Shinra as part of a cover-up of Sephiroth's massacre. Professor Hojo subjected these survivors to an experiment, performing the same enhancements given to SOLDIER members—a procedure which included Mako showers and the injection of Jenova cells. All but Zack entered a comatose state, and nearly five years later, Zack broke free from his confinement and took Cloud with him. However, the alien Jenova cells in Cloud's body still allowed Sephiroth to modulate his behavior. Moreover, the cells' ability to duplicate information allowed Cloud's mind to construct a false persona built around Zack's behavior. This was prompted by Zack himself, who was killed outside Midgar by Shinra soldiers during the escape; he urged Cloud to live both their lives before passing on. Afterward, Tifa discovered Cloud, who was wearing a SOLDIER 1st Class uniform, and offered him a job with AVALANCHE.
After Cloud awakens, it is revealed that Aeris, in her final moments, was casting the spell "Holy" with the White Materia, the only means of opposing Meteor. Although she succeeded, Sephiroth had since prevented the spell from taking effect. Deciding to protect humanity from the WEAPONs before approaching Sephiroth, Shinra and AVALANCHE destroy the WEAPONs, although nearly all of Shinra's executives are killed in the process. Among the few survivors are Reeve Tuesti, who is revealed to be the repentant controller of Cait Sith,and Professor Hojo, who is revealed to be Sephiroth's biological father. He explains that he and his wife were assistants to Professor Gast, and offered up their unborn child as a test subject to research involving Jenova.After finding out that Hojo is trying to help Sephiroth gain mastery over the Lifestream, AVALANCHE kills him. In their final assault against Sephiroth, the group travels through the Northern Crater to the planet's core. They defeat Sephiroth and free Holy, but the spell is unable to destroy Meteor alone. Selected as Meteor's target, Midgar is almost completely destroyed. However, the Lifestream rises from the planet to aid Holy in destroying the Meteor.During the epilogue, taking place 500 years after the game's events, Red XIII runs through a canyon with two cubs at his side. He proceeds up a cliff-face, which reveals a lush land of greenery where Midgar had once been.
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