Samuel Brace wonders if there is any point in getting excited about Final Fantasy VII…
E3 exploded with euphoria and excitement a few weeks ago when Square announced the long speculated upon and long wished for remake of the classic seventh entry in the Final Fantasy franchise. Everyone who grew up anywhere near that time or that game knows the regard for which fans hold it and how much it means to so many people. So I was initially as excited as any when the announcement came but the release of news in the days and weeks since and really just remembering and acknowledging the studio we are dealing with here, lends me to believe that we should all maybe, possibly, just cool our jets a little. You know, rein it back a bit. Just a smidge.
Square has become notorious for jumping the shark. From a Kingdom Hearts game that at this point may never come out, to Final Fantasy XV, a title that has been in development since 2006, a game that was once titled Versus XIII and whose developers are now patching the demo for that game. Yes, you heard that right. Instead of taking the feedback they received (there was a lot) and implementing it in the actual game, they are patching the god damn demo. So now, with the previous Final Fantasy game mentioned still not released and not looking to be coming to consoles any time soon, they have gone and announced another title, the remake of VII. Forgive me for not being overly positive about seeing this game any time soon or really just at all.
We all want to be excited for this game, of course we do, but Square has the habit of dampening such enthusiasms. Like just recently when news became known that the man in charge of recreating/remaking/rebooting (whatever) Final Fantasy VII didn’t even know he was directing the game. Apparently the poor man only discovered his integral role after seeing his name pop up in a presentation. That alone should tell you all you need to know about this game, and really Square in general.
The fact that the announcement came at E3, one could imagine that this game might be a few steps along the production line. Well no, sorry, apparently things are only just getting started. So who knows when we will see it. 2018? 2019? Hell, 2020 might even be a better guess at this point. Referring back to the closest and most relevant title for comparison — Final Fantasy XV — well that game was announced nearly 10 years ago. It’s still not out.
All of this malarkey comes before we even discuss the game itself. Never mind if it comes out or not, will it actually be a game of worth? There is something systemic about remakes that lean the answer to that particular question into the ‘not very likely’ column. VII is — it’s fair to say — most Final Fantasy fans favourite game of the series, what many would call the best game of the bunch (VI would give it a run for its money) and while more of VII is what fans have been calling for, there is really very few scenarios where this endeavour turns out to be a worthwhile one. Will they change the game that fans love so much? If so, what will they change? The characters? The combat? The story? Ask any ardent fan of the original and they will shake their head furiously in response to all three of those questions. So what to do? Just enhance the graphics; basically give it the HD, current gen treatment, remade shot for shot? I can hardly see a situation where Square decides that is worth their time — and gods know how much ‘time’ they will end up dedicating to it.
You can start to see why it’s so hard to jump on the bandwagon and join the FF VII remake hype train, if for no other reason maintaining such a monstrously high level of excitement will be awfully tiring for so many years. How many E3’s are we going to have to watch go by with only the meekest of footage to get us by, footage that in all likelihood will bear little to no resemblance to the finish product.
So why — if the game is only just starting production and if the director only found out his responsibilities by happenstance — did Square decide that E3 2015 was the moment to unveil the remake of Final Fantasy VII? Simple, because it was the biggest announcement they could possibly make, stock prices would shoot skyward and well… because they’re Square Enix and they do this type of thing. There’s a demonstrable truth in the fact that they announce games before finishing projects that are still in production, games that even belong to the same series as one another. This is what Square does. So, should we be excited? Is there any virtue to being so? Yes, probably, maybe, but not now, not in 2015. Maybe in four years. But for now, Square, please, finish a game before starting a new one and maybe make your staff aware of their jobs. That kind of thing seems like it might be important.