Final Fantasy VII is one of the most defining entries in the series. It became one of the quintessential PlayStation JRPGs and well-known games. This means its also gotten plenty of spin-offs, like the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie and Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. But, there is one complementary game that stands out. That’s Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. This is the game that sets up all of the actions of Final Fantasy VII, introducing who Zack is, explaining why Sephiroth went bonkers, and giving a fantastic Japanese rock star even more of a presence in the series after a brief glimpse in Vincent’s game.
Embrace Your Dreams and Protect Your Honor
Zack Fair is a member of SOLDIER who is starting to find his footing and essentially become a hero. Initially, we see him working alongside Angeal, a 1st Class SOLDIER like Sephiroth and Genesis, his longtime friend and also actually Gackt. While he initially starts out in what is an ideal job for someone who wants to be a hero, getting to meet Aerith and befriend the Turks, things go wrong after Zack and Angeal are assigned to help Shinra fight the war with Wutai. Angeal and Genesis disappear and lead a rebellion against Shinra.
Now a 1st Class SOLDIER, Zack works alongside Sephiroth and Tseng to defend Shinra (and innocent people) against Genesis and Angeal’s efforts and clones. The more they dig into the incident that has prompted their behavior, the more of Shinra’s shady doings are revealed. Which, well, leads into the events of Final Fantasy VII.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a game about realizations. Some of these have to do with Zack himself. We know that Aerith and him were incredibly close to one another, but we never get an idea of how and why their relationship worked. This offers that insight. Once we start getting to know Cloud and understand his imposter syndrome, we might wonder how such a thing could have happened and he could be different from the person Tifa knew. This shows the effect Zack and the experimentation had on him. We also only had experience with Sephiroth as a villain, which might have made it difficult to understand how someone like him could have been revered and in such a lofty position at Shinra. All of this is explained, helping the original game make a little more sense.
Also, now that Final Fantasy VII Remake is on the way, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII might provide a little look into how a turn-based RPG could become more active. After all, it has a completely different battle system where players control only Zack for the entire game. It’s an active system where you can move him around the field, then use buttons to cycle through actions to determine if he attacks with his sword, taps into Materia, or uses items. Going back to this might not only put you in a better place lore-wise ahead of its release, but perhaps prepare you a bit for the battle system shift.
The Pitfalls of Physical-only Releases
The downside is, there’s only way to get this PlayStation Classic. Square Enix never released a digital copy of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. You can only get this PSP game if you find a physical copy somewhere. So, you better take care of that handheld! (Especially since even Japan won’t be repairing them anymore soon!)