Chapter 6: The Sights and Sounds
This title has gotten a ton of praise in this department, and do not get me wrong, there is alot of good here.
The detail put into the main characters is absolutely insane, with no expense spared and no corner cut in the character design department. Cloud has had countless cameos and appearances across quite a few games (Fun Fact: Tetsuya Nomura has never allowed anyone besides himself to do the character design for Cloud Strife in any published game), but this is unquestionably the best that Cloud has ever looked. Barret and Aerith both have extremely detailed and elaborate designs that are observable even while just walking around.
The out of engine cutscenes are some of the best cutscenes in all of gaming, at one point causing me to examine the TV closely and try to determine if I was watching a live action scene that had been slipped into the game. The opening cutscene is especially stunning, sweeping all over the cliffs outside of the city before focusing in on Midgar itself and the beautiful colors sprawled across the sky.
The wonderful music of the original title return in this title, this time without the limitations of the PS1 and software of the 90s. Many of these songs may have been available for years through the countless orchestral concerts and CDs Square Enix has made available over the years, but they still feel fresh. The soundtrack also incorporates many remixes of the original songs, which, for the most part, sound great. There is so much good music
But, for every bit of good there is quite a bit of bad.
The sound mixing of this game is atrociously bad, coming off extremely messy and being super distracting. Scenes where a charcter (typically Barret) is giving a monologue is ruined because he is completely inaudible due to the extremely loud BGM playing overtop of him. Battles get way too loud for no apparent reason because the BGM is blasting, all of the attacks and abilities of both the characters and the enemies try to be even louder, and in some cases, dialogues is layered on top of that. Being in the city areas will subject players to decent noise levels, until you realize that the conversation you hear clear as night right now is a side conversation that two NPCs are having the entire other side of Wall Market.
Often times, the music that is playing does not fit the scene it is playing in either, becoming frustrating and distracting. When a city full of innocent people that are losing both their livelihood and loved ones due to the excessive damage done by the first bombing mission does not need to be accompanied by cheerful and energetic music. The
The cities do not have any ambient sound or background noises, which I know is such a little thing to complain about, but it would breathe life into Midgar that it desperately needs. You can be standing right next to two children having a sword battle with wooden swords and not hear a single sound from it: no clashing of wood, no talking or laughter, nothing. Occasionally you will hear some NPC say some clunky and lazily written line as you pass them, the problem is that you will hear that same line about 8 more times since every NPC can say the exact same line. At one point I walked down a passage in sector 7 once and counted how many different NPCs said this one specific line. The answer was 11, and that’s not counting every time I heard that line after I left that passage.
Visually, this game is not nearly as good as Twitter will have you believe. There are some unbelievably bad textures sprinkled throughout the game: the door to Cloud’s apartment, signpost all over sector 5, a control panel used by Rude in a cutscene (This one is the most egregious, because the camera actually zooms into what can only be described as a N64 level texture multiple times for a total of probably a whole minute). These stand out against what is otherwise a really gorgeous game.
Then there are the skyboxes and pre-rendered backgrounds, ya know, the thing that the original FF7 used for compression and storage reasons. Anytime the player looks up, they are looking at a skybox, an unmoving, unshifting drawing of the plates above that are ugly to look at and are extremely distracting. This becomes even worse in a later section of the game, when climbing some buildings, where 90% of what is on screen is a pre-rendered background, and the worst one I have ever witnessed at that. It is ugly, blurry, poorly lit, and this is where any bit of rage I had for this game began. This is bad, not only because it is ugly and should never have been allowed in a game ever, but also because there are multiple times throughout that level where that ugly mess of a background is the focus of the shot and the scene, just further highlighting how bad it looks.
You might say “maybe some corners were cut to help so the development team could focus on the character and enemy design” to which I would agree that the character design is great, but then disagree strongly with your assessment of the enemy design.
Not only is there very little variety in enemies, thus requiring less design, but many, is not most, of the enemy designs are just upscaled models from Crisis Core. Sure, they are in HD, but they are still nearly the exact same models for all of the basic enemies. Most of the mini-bosses enemies are just basic enemy, but a different color, showing an even further lack of effort by the development team. The bosses get quite a bit of love and design time, and it shows, but the movement of the combat and most successful combat style does not allow for that design to be appreciated.
Overall, this game does some terrible clashing between PS4 level graphics and PS2 level graphics, and it distracts the player nearly constantly. This game’s visuals looks like a rushed mess, and they are what started my internal questions about this game’s development and Tetsuya Nomura’s direction.