I know I’m going to catch a lot of heat for this, but I’m going to get it out of the way up front. Final Fantasy VII is not the best game ever made. What is? I don’t know. I haven’t played them all, so I don’t feel qualified to make that declaration. What I do feel qualified to say is that this game isn’t the best Final Fantasy title, which would automatically disqualify it from being the best game ever made.
Now, I’m not trying to say that the game is bad, far from it. It’s a solid Final Fantasy experience with a few flaws that still bug me today. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The storyline of this game is ridiculously convoluted. It starts out with your character hired by some rebels to destroy a power reactor. It seems that a giant corporation is powering the technology that most civilized people use with the life force of the planet. Through a series of events we learn that the evil company has done more evil things, including weird experiments on humans with alien DNA. One of the experimentees goes a bit crazy and tries to destroy the world. Our protagonist, also an experimentee and reluctant leader, is inexorably drawn into the conflict and has to (*gasp*) save the world.
Believe me, I’ve only just barely touched the surface of this game. If you decide to play it, I’d recommend that you take notes, but without a large amount of luck (or a walkthrough) you’re going to miss out on a large chunk of the backstory. This is a pretty big flaw. For a game with a story as massively convoluted as this, a great deal of the backstory is only available in optional side quests. In fact, most of these quests are subtly hidden and if you don’t know where to look (or aren’t obsessively scouring the game) there’s a good chance you’re going to miss them. I suppose if you don’t really care about the storyline, or the huge amounts of exposition, or the hows and whys of your mission and the world at large then this won’t bother you much.
So why, then, do people adore this game as much as they do? I’m not sure. It could be that the main character is an angsty loner with an unrequited love. Or it could be that folks just like the guys with huge swords.
Or it could even be that they liked seeing the giant summonable monsters and the new-fangled cutscenes. Or, just maybe, people like confounding overblown storylines, so they can discuss the minutiae and try and unravel the mysteries.
Oh! What game in the Final Fantasy series do I think is better than this one? Final Fantasy 6. But that’s another entry for another day.