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“Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core”…my new drug

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After many “innovative” games coming from publishers, Square Enix, another Final Fantasy spin off had me a tad on the nervous side. Don’t get me wrong, I still reserved the special edition copy from Best Buy and brought it home the day it came out but I had no idea what to expect upon popping it into my PSP and starting it up.

To my pleasant surprise, the game opens with a beautiful cinematic which is backed up by the original intro music from “Final Fantasy VII” from the PlayStation 1. For those who played the original, you are bound to get that warm nostalgic feeling as the memories of yesteryear swell in your stomach.

The story is set prior to “Final Fantasy VII” where you play as Zack. Zack is currently a member of Soldier and you are destined to defend the company that you work for, Shinra. You will encounter many familiar characters and environments from the previous “Final Fantasy VII” releases and “Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core” works surprisingly well as a prequel.

One of the features that separate “Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core” from previous games in the “Final Fantasy” series is the battle system. Rather than the common turn-based system that most Japanese RPGs tote, “Crisis Core” uses a strange combination of timed turn-based attacks with real-time battle. Though it may seem odd at first, after a bit of play it actually becomes rather fun. Random battles are not quite the chore that they used to be.

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Another feature of the game that adds to the intrigue is the DMW system. The DMW works like a slot machine that will dictate your status. For instance the result of a DMW can lead to an ability that lets you cast magic without losing MP or if you match a 3 of a kind, you will use a limit break. But the DMW doesn’t just effect your battle status. It is also how you level up. This is something I really think adds to the fun of this game. Rather than having to seek out random battles and grind to get your level up to par, your levels are based on chance. It makes it much more enjoyable for a portable game.

This game is amazing whether you are a die hard “Final Fantasy” fan or a casual gamer. The game can be completed in roughly 15 hours (depending on if you do the side missions or not) and is not too difficult for gamers of all ages. The cutscenes are beautiful and the voice acting is performed well. It’s been a while since I played my PSP and after putting so much time into this one, I ended up buying a new PSP altogether. I highly recommend this game to anyone who owns the Sony handheld and can easily say if you were to purchase one portable game this year, this is it. Now back to my PSP…I got withdrawals just from taking a break to write this.

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