Gameplay- The battle system in Final Fantasy 7 is part real-time, part turn-based. Each character has an Active Time Battle meter visible during combat. Once a character's ATB bar is completely filled, the player can issue commands to that character, such as attack, defend, use magic, etc.
Each FF game has a unique gameplay system , and in FF7, it uses the Materia System. Materia are these magic orbs that the player finds throughout the quest and uses or spell casting purposes. Materia gain strength and new abilities by accumulating ability points after you win a battle. It's just like the tried and true leveling up system of traditional RPGs.
Players can experience a full 3d view in the overworld map. The basic routine of the game is to travel from one location to another, gaining EXP from battles, talking to people in new areas, and purchasing new items for future combat. One aspect of the gameplay system that is disappointing is that each character has no specific skills other than limit breaks (super powerful
attacks). What happened to the black mage, blue mage, knight, and other character classes each with their own abilities?
Graphics- FF7 recieved much acclaim for it's amazing graphical wonder. The backgrounds are prerendered and look very smooth. The most beautiful piece of graphical splendor in my opinion is the Costa Del Sol area. The CG movies are utterly breathtaking. They move the story along vastly.
Sadly, there are the bad parts too. The character design SUCKS!! In battle, the characters look like real people, but they look like polygonal messes everywhere else. Square's reason to make the characters blocky, pixilated, and non-proportional is anyone's guess. There's also lots of pop up in the overworld, and it doesn't look nearly as good as the prerendered backgrounds.
The battle graphics are pixilated but showcase awesome spells and special FX to really
light up the battles.
Sound/music- The sound effects are decent but not revolutionary. You'll hear swords clashing and cool explosions.
The music is also very nice. Some of my favorite songs are the Mako Reactor theme, Aeris' theme, the Jenova battle theme, boss fight theme and One Winged Angel. Most songs could be better, but one major disappointment is lack of voice acting. DUH! It's CD-ROM medium we're using! Voices could've carried this game to new heights. Also, some of the songs sound like bland MIDI. The two songs that stay in my mind are the Mako Reactor theme and J-E-N-O-V-A.
Story- Here's another error in this game: translation quality. There are some misspelled words in the dialogue occasionally, and some Japanese-translated words weren't changed for the US version, like "last elixir", which is supposed to be megalixir.
Another problem is the game's setting. I thought I was in a dark, techno world with futuristic buildings and stuff, so what's up with using ancient weapons to fight menacing robots and high-tech weaponry for dragons and wizards?
Now the good stuff: the characters and their personalities dramatically change as the game progresses further. Cloud (main character) doesn't give a damn about the fate of the planet, and soon he's fighting for everyone.
In game progression, you can go almost anywhere you want at almost anytime, but there are always set places to go to move further. The game starts with Cloud and members of AVALANCHE (underground rebel movement) taking on the energy sucking reactors of Shinra Inc. Soon, the whole gang is fighting to save the day from the big bad Sephiroth and his planet crushing Meteo spell. There are tons of unbelievable twists and turns everywhere.
Control- Since the analog controller was made after FF7, there's no comfy pressure-sensitive movement. You have to hold a button to make your character run and the directional pad isn't always accurate, so expect some movement problems. The characters respond to everything pretty quickly, but sadly there's no force-feedback support. It would work great with the summon spells in battle, and there should be a way to easily skip those CG movies. I don't always have time to watch them.
Overall-Anyone familiar with FF games or that like long quests should get this game. Don't let the bad stuff I said about the game bother you. It's fun and mind-blowing. As long as you work hard to be at a high level, the game won't be so hard. Highly recommended.