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Final Fantasy VII Remake: What you need to know

What makes this the most highly anticipated video game remake of all time?

Square Enix

When I think of Final Fantasy VII Remake, I think of its announcement at E3 2015. I remember watching it at my desk, becoming increasingly enraptured as it became evident the trailer was for a Final Fantasy VII Remake. It was a big day.

But as you'll see in this video, it wasn't just me. Everyone at Sony's press conference lost their minds. The trailer got a freaking round of applause -- even with the weird name (yes, "Remake" is part of the game's title).

With E3 2018 around the corner, there are whispers that we'll catch an elusive glimpse of the new and improved Final Fantasy VII, but if you've never played the original or weren't around at the time of its 1997 release, you may be asking...

What's the deal with Final Fantasy VII? 

Final Fantasy is the most famous role-playing game (RPG) franchise ever, and Final Fantasy VII is the most famous Final Fantasy game ever. It's sold 11 million units, according to creator Square Enix, making it the highest-selling game in the franchise. For reference, 2016's Final Fantasy XV, which was a huge success, stands at around 7 million in sales.

The game was also a smash hit among critics, holding a 9.2 rating on Metacritic. Gamespot, our sister site, gave it a 9.5 upon release.

It may seem crazy looking at it now, but Final Fantasy VII was a technological masterclass in 1997. Cinematic cutscenes were modelled in full-motion video, and the blocky 3D models moved around in prerendered environments that blew minds at the time.

ff7-battle-3-scale-800-700

You see this? These graphics were mind blowing. 

Square Enix

Then there's the story. Final Fantasy VII follows Cloud Strife, a member of the feared SOLDIER group. He's joined by a ragtag group of memorable characters, including Tifa, Vincent and Barrett, and is eventually set on a course to meet Sephiroth, who's since become one of gaming's most iconic villains. 

Wrap both of these up in an expansive world and a deep battle system, and you've got yourself a winner.

One last story note: If you haven't played the original, do not read up on its story. You'll have one of gaming's most famous moments spoiled.

Why do people want a remake?

People have had a thirst for a Final Fantasy VII Remake thanks to the efforts of Square Enix itself. The company teamed up with Sony in 2005 to give fans a huge tease. At E3, when Sony was unveiling its PlayStation 3 for the first time, this "technical demo" was shown:

Those bastards showed us what Final Fantasy's intro would look like on the PlayStation 3. When they clearly had no intention of pulling through. Let me tell you, it was a long 10 years between this tech demo and the trailer for the real remake.

What should I play before Remake?

If you haven't played the original Final Fantasy VII yet, at this point, it's best to just wait until Remake hits. We don't know when exactly that will be, but hey, you've made it this far right?

Although there are a bunch of other Final Fantasy VII spin-offs out there. These include Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, as well as a film, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

You can skip almost all of these. Dirge of Cerberus is a game set after the original, and it follows Vincent, one of the two secret characters in Final Fantasy VII. Advent Children is cool, as far as video game movies go, but it's also set after the original game, so it won't make much sense.

That said, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a great game. It's a prequel, following Zack Fair, who was Cloud's mentor in SOLDIER. Playing it won't spoil much of Final Fantasy VII's story, so it's absolutely worth doing. The downside? It's only available on PSP, so you'll need one of those lying around.

crisis-core-902x507

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was great, but it's only playable on PSP. Other Final Fantasy VII spin-off titles aren't worth fussing over. 

Square Enix

What do we know about Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Not heaps. And what we do know just begs more questions.

First and foremost, we know the remake will be drastically different to the original. That's immediately evident in the combat: While Final Fantasy VII was completely turn based, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a real-time action game. In an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu translated by Gematsu, director Tetsuya Nomura said the game wouldn't be quite as real-time as Kingdom Hearts.

So how this real-time-but-not-completely-real-time combat system will work, we do not know. You can, however, see a snippet of it below.

At last word, the game is to be released in multiple installments, each of which will be the size of Final Fantasy XIII, according to producer Yoshinori Kitase. Kitase, in the same interview, said the game the company's creating is just too big to play in one installment.

How long a gap will be left between each installment, we do not know.

It sounds like the team is recreating the hell out of this game, as Nomura and Kitase, in the few interviews they've done, make reference to the immense scale of the game.

Another clear theme: The duo aren't interested in a straight remake. The changes they're making aren't just to the combat, or to the vastness of the world, but to the story as well.

"I don't want the remake to end as something solely nostalgic. I want to get the fans of the original version excited," Kitase said to Dengaki, again translated by Gematsu. "We'll be making adjustments to the story with this thought in mind."

Nomura added to this, enigmatically saying, "I hope that [fans of the original] can be surprised once again."

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