Sunday, April 19, 2020

Final Fantasy VII Remake, Part 2 - Midgar Railway

 Today on FFVII Remake: Jessie's Mom...has got it goin' on.

Previously on FFVII Remake: Cloud got weird headaches and flashbacks to things that may or may not be real. This game never had a particularly coherent story. Tifa looks like she's about to murder the cameraman. GET OUTTA THERE!

DA MENU. It has a streamlined look with the character portraits ever-present, and reminds me a bit of FFXIII's menus. That's a good thing, those menus were futuristic and had some nice character portraits.

Here's a new materia/ability, and a highly-useful one. It's a sweeping AOE attack that doesn't use MP. Later you can get an HP Absorb materia that heals you for a portion of the damage done by a linked materia, and you can combine it with this for basically limitless healing (in very small increments). It's definitely worth leveling up.

Jessie tells it like it is and puts Cloud in his place after all of his aloofness.

I swear, Tifa and Aerith could both be disrobing right in front of Cloud and inviting him into a three-way and he'd just walk away moping.

"Not interested."

Jessie talks about how we're wrapping around Midgar's big, powerful main pillar.

...alright, I'll stop.

The train station definitely brings back memories. One thing I'm super not crazy about: They don't play the normal music that plays in this sector, which is a theme that I loved as a kid. It's nowhere to be found now. Similarly, the Wall Market theme is absent from Wall Market later on. Both of these things were big mistakes IMO.

Here's the theme that I'm talking about that used to play during this part. At least we can dub music over the game if we really want to. The sound levels can be individually adjusted so that the music is muted and other sounds are normal.

Barret - probably this game's best character - tells three of the game's other best characters to get some rest, we've got a lot more work to do.

I said it before: It's tremendous to be able to look up and see Midgar all around you in this game.

Sector 7 Slums, sans original music. Ah well. About 80% of this game takes place in the slums, so get used to 'em.

A wild Tifa appears!

Cloud gives her the flower that he got from Aerith, and the love triangle begins. Notice how the game changes to a first-person perspective when Cloud is talking to beautiful women.

The news is full of coverage of our vile actions at the reactor.

Barret trying to be a dad to Marlene AND a terrorist mastermind at work? This could be a brilliant TV show.

Tifa is legitimately a really good friend. She just babysat Marlene while Barret ran out on a mission, and now she's gotten Cloud an apartment in the neighborhood where he won't even have to pay rent. Obviously they go way back, and she's also the reason Barret's crew reached out to him. We've all played FFVII so we know the score with these folks. They really seized the opportunity to flesh things out that much more with voice acting and actual facial expressions in this remake, though.

Today's special at the item shop: Hi-Potion. Call me when you've got X-Potions.

Cloud railing on the media. It's true, the news in this world only gives you as much information as the powers that be want you to have.

Tifa shows Cloud around his new apartment rather flirtatiously, and they somehow don't immediately have reunion sex.

Speaking of reunion, Cloud's next-door neighbor is one of those mako-infused people that lurk around Midgar. One of the creepiest aspects of FFVII was the fact that a large portion of the homeless population were people who had been experimented on by Shinra.

Here's Marle, the landlady. I really appreciate that they dropped an overt Chrono Trigger reference right in here.

Outdoor clothes shops in the slums. Yet another cool thing about the game: You can hear conversations happening as you walk past people. No need to stop and press a button to talk to an NPC. Just walk around and listen to all of the world-building conversation.

At this point Cloud just wants to get paid for the mission, and instead gets roped into running errands with Tifa. First up: Replace air filters for people. They practically eliminate the rotten-egg smell. Wait, what? ...why do these people live here, anyway? Move to Kalm Town or something.

Cloud whines and complains. Meanwhile Tifa physically proves that leaning over things is hot. This woman, I'm telling you. In 1997 I'd be willing to bet she was a major part of a lot of boys' puberty. Like Lara Croft.

Meanwhile, Marle isn't too fond of Cloud after their first meeting. Why would she be? He's completely aloof and unfriendly. She's absolutely telling it like it is when she says he has no charm. Why do all of these women like him so much? It's like the attraction version of plot armor.

Also, hyuck at him having a big sword and no skills.

Here in the slums, everyone's packing heat. Don't worry though, in FFVII gunfire is about as ineffective as it is in the Star Wars universe. It can be blocked, dodged, or shrugged off. A sword is where the real damage is.

A lot of people swear in this game, which I've seen some complaints about, but it's accurate to the original.

New to the remake: Weapons now have their own sub-system for character growth. You can choose abilities to spend points on as you progress, and they enhance that particular weapon. The Buster Sword has a ton of things to get, so it can actually re-become your best weapon as the game goes on even after you replace it with other things. Weapon points aren't shared between weapons, and all weapons will have your earned points available to them individually, so there's nothing stopping you from spending away on a weapon that you're gonna be replacing soon.

This was a great addition and gives the game another major component of character advancement besides the normal equipment and materia systems.

Tifa officially joins the party so that she can show Cloud around the mean streets.

Oh my GOOOOOD. This game is really real.

I like how all of the NPCs around here are super-nice to Tifa and kind of rude to Cloud at the same time. It's realistic, since he's formerly Shinra and has done very little to make a good impression.

Biggs (who really looks like Charlie Sheen from Hot Shots, and given the bandana I'm sure it's on purpose) is a cool guy in this version. Barret's squad is the heart and soul of this remake in some ways.

Another new materia. This one can be very useful in that it'll automatically heal a character who gets into critical state, often before you have a chance to do it yourself. After so many uses per battle, it'll stop working.

Tifa Explains Sidequests. A lot of folks were unhappy to learn that the game had MMO-like busywork involved. Well, the good news is that the sidequests are quick, to the point, and actually add something to the world-building side of the game.

Cloud stops to say hi to a local mamacita. Meanwhile her friend is sitting there like "I got my eye on you pal" and Tifa is quietly accepting her permanent residence in the friendzone.

Moving on, we find a Cat House. Just...cats everywhere.

Just realized this whole place is getting obliterated in a little while. This game is depressing.

This one cat puts 'em up like a pugilist. He's like "Why I oughtta". Even small varmints want Cloud to sod off.

Moving on, we find Katie, another babe who is like totes interested in Cloud. She keeps track of all of the monsters that have been defeated in the slums...and the number is like entirely Cloud's work. What are all those people with guns doing?

I make a few rounds to battle enemies in the surrounding area. Here we see Tifa doing a spinning uppercut, and it's a sight to behold.

This game is filled with sparks and light effects that make it really appealing to look at. Sometimes there can be too much going on at once onscreen, but it's rare.

Katie (and her abs) is getting more and more impressed by Cloud. He doesn't want to let her down, so he goes back out and vigorously plows more foes.

Benches are where you rest to recover HP/MP in this game. It's kind of fitting for the world they're building that you'd have to sleep on benches. They're usually accompanied by vending machines where you can buy items. Usually it isn't necessary to buy anything because you find a ton of items in the field. However there are almost always a set of limited-quantity "sale price" items that are good to pick up at any given vending machine. It's often more expensive goods like Mega Potions that get the sale price, and if you can nab 3 of those at a particular machine for cheap it's wise to do it.

Sort of a miniboss here as we battle the Cerulean Drake. This game gets extra use of some regular FFVII enemies by making them into minibosses (or occasionally, full-on bosses).

Uh oh, we're going back to the apartment. Combine this with how Tifa keeps saying she needs a shower every other time we win a fight, and it's safe to say that steamy things await our star-crossed lovers.

...or would, if this were a Persona game, or at least if Cloud weren't a jerk.

Cloud visits Tifa's room. You can tell a lot about her by how organized the room is and how well-lit it is. Her boots from Nibelheim are in the corner there.

Cloud turns around and runs right into...

AH! JESUS! ...sorry, just got spooked by the first-person outta nowhere.

Tifa hasn't seen him in a while, and wants to know more about his time with Shinra. The big enigma of his past.

Suffice to say, working for Shinra turned out to not be what it was cracked up to be. Turns out they're an evil corporation. There's also the small detail of how Cloud failed in his endeavor to become a renowned super-soldier and ended up not advancing past the rank of guard duty, but we don't talk about that part.

At this point we have a very important choice, as Tifa asks what she should wear later to go out (presumably with Cloud, though it doesn't end up happening that way). This simple dialogue option determines what kind of dress Tifa wears during the Don Corneo section of the game later. There's a lot more that goes into what Cloud and Aerith wear. I went with sporty. We'll see what the results are soon enough.

The next day, AVALANCHE has a secret club meeting, and Cloud isn't invited. Matter of fact, they don't need him going forward. Barret just really doesn't like the guy after their first mission together. It's a little rough seeing them at odds like this. Cloud may not care, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn't want Barret to resent me.

Meanwhile, not at odds at all, with anybody, is Tifa. Not only did she get Cloud an apartment, now she's mixing him drinks. They kept the "give me something hard" from the original game, one of the many bits of "mature dialogue" that set it apart from previous RPGs of the era.

Cloud isn't most people, he's a plank of wood.

She fixes a red drink and Cloud holds it up, calling it "beautiful" while looking at her. She gets all blushy and says "I have to GO" and it's this really cute moment between them. It's nice to have a little humanity here and there in this "romance".

Tifa leaves for the secret club meeting, and Jessie shows up to talk smack about her competition. Turns out Tifa isn't totally down with the cause, as she doesn't believe in destroying reactors and causing large amounts of collateral damage.

Since Cloud isn't invited to the meeting, I don't have much to do except obliterate the leaderboard at darts. Wedge's record of 8 turns isn't easy to top.

This is a pretty fun minigame once you figure out the deal with it. It's best to go for the two rings, and the targeting reticule usually starts you hovering right over one of them.

First try doesn't go too well, as my aim was way off. It took an entire 13 turns to score the required points, plus I accidentally stabbed a nearby bar patron in the buttocks.

Going a bit better this time to say the least. Yeah, I'm giving FULL COVERAGE to a dart minigame.

Look at that, Wedge's score of 8 is so last week now.

It might be possible to get it down to 6, not sure. Don't think so though. 6 bullseyes would be 300 points and you need more than that.

Tifa gets back from the meeting and goes straight to the bar. She isn't happy. Looks like AVALANCHE is going ahead with their plans to wreak more havoc.

Barret sends Cloud on his way. He'd probably flip him the bird while he's at it, except...ya know, gun arm.

Jessie tried to stand up for Cloud, to no avail.

Even though Cloud's been effectively canned from their organization, that isn't going to stop Jessie from making the moves.

Outside, this temporarily turns into a Yakuza game as I can't walk five feet without getting harassed by a gang.

This leads to a big brawl after Cloud follows them down an alleyway. After he wins and gets severely beaten in the process, he limps home to find...

…Jessie waiting at his place. She's SUCH A FLIRT.

While Tifa fixes a mean Cosmo Canyon, Jessie is still Top Bae. If this game had legitimate romance options I'd be going for S-Link rank 10 with Jessie, no doubt. 

Regardless, this isn't a date. She wants Cloud's help with a mission of her own. This is entirely new to the remake, and it's pretty rad.

Time to talk about summons. You can use a summon once per battle and it usually only becomes accessible when the battle has gone on for a bit already. A summon will roam the battlefield launching attacks for a bit, then culminate with a super-attack before disappearing (much like World of Final Fantasy). The game starts you out with Ifrit, the fire elemental. He's an effective damage dealer against humanoid foes and enemies weak to fire. If you get various pre-order bonuses, you can also end up with other summons at the beginning.

As for the ones I got: Cactuar doesn't do much damage, but it's very good for staggering enemies. Its final attack 10,000 Needles (which only does about 400 damage) usually staggers everything in the area. Meanwhile, Chocobo Chick is a decent damage-dealer and lobs attack spells at anything that moves. Final attack is Chocoflare which does surprisingly beefy non-elemental damage against one target. I found myself using both of these summons a lot more than I expected.

The loading screens have pictures and lore that explain what exactly the deal is with this world, for the uninitiated.

Time to head up to the plate and help Jessie out. Biggs and Wedge show up too, and it's time for a motorcycle minigame. Pretty cool that they dropped one of these so early in the game.

Jessie of course rides with Cloud, and we get some important info pertaining to the new story of the game: Jessie blames herself for the massive explosion at the Shinra reactor, because none of these guys know what really happened there. So she's going to use a weaker bomb for the next one, and we need to break into a warehouse to get what she needs.

But first! Motorcycle minigame! Jessie seizes the opportunity to make this...sexual.

This plays exactly like the motorcycle minigame in the original game, for better or worse. It feels dated and even a bit tedious at times, while also being nostalgic.

This is new, though: It's Roche, a member of SOLDIER and master of bike-fighting. It's about time we got more members of SOLDIER showing up in the FFVII universe.

This highly-flamboyant and a little bit irritating. Come to think of it, these traits are common in SOLDIER, as Genesis kinda acted the same way in Crisis Core.

The battle is joined! This turns into a full-on boss fight, and it's pretty cool that they implemented a boss into the bike minigame.

Here's the fight, because I'm all about boss videos. Wonder if they're going to do the same thing with Motor Ball later.

The fight culminates with Cloud leaping through the air to slay Roche's bike and end their battle...for now. After a sweet move like that, Jessie has got to be impressed.

"I could also be your front-warmer! Okay, I'll stop."

Welp, we did it, we reached the upper plate of Midgar.

Shinra Tower looms over the upper plate, and the sky is readily visible here. This is a part of the game that got very little use in the original FFVII. It's the actual "city" part of Midgar, while the lower level is mostly slums and shantytowns. This part looks advanced and quite interesting. Too bad it doesn't get more use. Was hoping it'd figure into the remake, but it doesn't really. You see it in Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 (this one).

The music here is super-chill.

Shinra recruitment/propaganda posters are often seen. They've even got a cartoon dog telling you to support the troops.

Jessie's house is part of a fairly normal-looking neighborhood, with roads and everything. This is the middle-class portion of Midgar, where a lot of Shinra's workers live. They still aren't important enough to Shinra to escape being dropped onto the people below if needed.

While Jessie brings Biggs and Wedge to have dinner with her mom, Cloud waits outside. That's right, he isn't invited for dinner, because his job is to steal her dad's Shinra Corp ID.

Turns out her dad is in a coma. You get the chance to snoop around the room, and...

...find out a lot more about Jessie, like how she gave up her dreams of being a famous actress. This part is actually kinda touching, and I wish this remake added more chapters like this. All of these people are having a rough time in one way or another, and it's probably what drove them all together to begin with.

Meanwhile, at the dinner... Jessie's Mom still thinks Jessie is trying to make it as an actress, and has no idea about the terrorism stuff. She doesn't ask any questions about why they're all wearing plate armor, probably because it's normal in Midgar.

Wedge is all about the food. Also, Jessie's Mom...has got it going on.

From there, Cloud joins up with Biggs and Wedge to use the stolen ID to get into a nearby Shinra facility. After seeing more of what Jessie's deal is, he has a new interest in what Biggs and Wedge have to say. Almost like he's coming around on caring about their cause and who they are. This chapter is Grade-A.

More later.


  1. Midgar refugees in Kalm? Not in my backyard!

    Yeah, if any game is going to have random profanity, it's FF7.

    Auto-Cure masters really quickly too.

    The sale items are a good mechanic.

    Jessie heart heart

  2. It is possible to get down to 6 throws on the darts minigame - the inner ring is triple points, so the highest value spot on the board is a triple-20, rather than the bullseye, which as you say is only 50 points.