Monday, February 1, 2021

Final Fantasy VII Remake, Part 10 - Shinra Electric Power Company

#OccupyShinraTower


We last left off on the preparation for Shinra Tower, which leads to a bunch of sidequests...and more sewer dungeons, as the people were clamoring for.

The accessories in this game totally run the gamut. This one's interesting, and I'm not sure what application it has outside of possibly the world's zaniest challenge run. The belt that gives you Berserk status all the time, on the other hand, is a very OP accessory. Berserk doesn't do what it usually does in this series, and just cranks up the attack power of the person afflicted.

The new dungeon under the playground is just one of many additions to Remake. There are various other new dungeons amidst the rubble and ruins and junkyards. Said it before, but I'd have much rather gotten more Midgar Upper Plate content in the city itself rather than 95% of this game taking place in the Lower Slums. The possibilities are endless. We could have taken in a production of Loveless. Heck, THAT could have been the new Honeybee Inn scene.

Another sidequest down, as Chapter 14 grinds onward like a rusty 1980's Amtrak.

Red miniskirt is a sight for sore eyes here in the most depressing place on Earth. What is this, Yakuza: Like a Dragon? Which should have been called "Yakuza: Like a Miniskirt"

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Some tough minibosses show up in these sidequests, like the dreaded Tonberries.

Check out the Shinra propaganda ad.

Back into the depths of the game's weird underworld for another side-dungeon. This is starting to remind me a lot of Dirge of Cerberus, which had similar generic underground dungeons for a lot of its runtime. It seems like FFVIIR is at its best when it's retreading the original game, and at its dullest when it does something new. There isn't a lot of imagination going into the additions, at least in my view.

At the end of a long, ominous corridor, we find...

...Behemoth miniboss! It wouldn't be an FF game without these things showing up somewhere. I've been a Behemoth fan since the Floating Continent in FFVI.

For the next sidequest, we gather music CDs from around town to make a Small Child happy. This is by far the most worthwhile usage of time yet, and gives us the opportunity to rock out to some remixed tunes. We also get this strange bald man doing hip gyrations like he's Nikki Bella.

Man, when did miniskirts get so popular in the world of FFVII?

The victory fanfare theme from the original may not have made it into the battles in this game due to their flowy-ness with the exploration, but it doesn't stop Barret from singing it aloud sometimes.

Eventually, the Small Child finds a song she likes. OUR WORK HERE IS DONE.

Time to climb to Shinra Tower. It used to involve a long, tedious rope-climb with fan blades and batteries and whatnot while some truly outstanding and memorable music played. As terrible as the gameplay was in that section, I remember it as being a pretty damn atmospheric part of the game.

Here...it's totally different. For one, it's daylight instead of night. You're still traversing the wreckage of Midgar, and the gameplay is a lot less tedious now, but it's far more of a "normal dungeon" than a climb.

This area is also GORGEOUS. Absolutely beautiful, in a completely different way from the original. And the music is, unfortunately, also different. No longer a victorious ballad, or even a particularly memorable one. Regardless, this is still a pretty hype chapter.

The recurring boss throughout this area is the Heli-Gunner (which used to be a boss in Shinra Tower along with the Hundred Gunner). Interesting that it got moved here. This thing harasses you throughout the dungeon and you have to deal with it multiple times.

Lots of 3rd Class SOLDIER attack here.

The Shinra troops are none too pleased that the bastardly Avalanche are forcing them to put in overtime with all of their terrorism.

On the bright side, while guarding this mess, they get to witness some incredible sunsets:

Yep. I'll take it.

Tifa is somber because she misses Aerith because she misses when they all had a normal life a week ago.

That's the spirit, Barret.

A chase sequence follows as the Heli-Gunner chases you up some ramps. These set pieces are borderline Uncharted-esque.

We take down Heli-Gunner for the final time. Lightning spells are absolutely the best element in this game, and tear apart mechanical foes (which make up most of the bosses). Fire is the second-best, as most human foes are weak against it. I got comparatively little use out of Ice or the new Wind element, unfortunately.

A mere 3 chapters left, though they're incredibly long. Chapters 16-18 are damn near the second half of the game in terms of runtime. Probably around the last 40% happens in and around Shinra Tower.

The massive flood lights / sun lamps around Shinra Tower have always interested me. Their main purpose seems to be to illuminate the lower slums at night and prevent the people from getting too depressed.

Our heroes sneak into the Shinra building on top of a truck.

The lobby is full of high-tech Shinra inventions, like energy forcefields and...

...motorcycles.

"It's definitely you" says John Connor to Cloud when reached for comment.

There are a few sections of the Tower that seem designed to slow everything way down, as is FFVIIR tradition. This platforming section with Tifa is slow and plodding at best, though at least it's cool to play as her for a bit.

One part that had me stuck for a while, until I had to resort to checking a walkthrough: If you fall from the platforming section, you apparently have no way back up. The solution? Climb onto the car with its lights on. It's the only one you can climb, but it works. Note the arrow in front of it. Didn't notice this for the longest time.

Rad Ziplining Tifa zips over the energy barrier to get us our first Shinra Keycard.

And now we're faced with a conundrum: Take the stairs, or the elevator? In the original game these were two very different experiences.

Since there are no enemies to deal with on this route, I take the stairs...

...and take the stairs. It is pretty funny how Tifa outpaces everyone else by a lot (and still gets tired by the end) while Barret lags behind and complains the whole way. Cloud's speed is medium, and after a while he too is limping along.

Meanwhile, in the evil Shinra science lab...the researchers are hard at work refining Mako energy. This looks like a pre-rendered background from like the PS2 era.

Scarlett, the only member of Shinra who doesn't dress appropriately for work, has a whimpering Shinra trooper as a literal footstool.

...20% of the game's audience just got a Weird Boner. Bunch of sickos!

She may be an awful human being, but on the flipside we have Reeve. The one good guy at Shinra Corp. The game makes it unclear whether he knew about the plate collapse before it happened or not. In the original, I believe he did and objected to it. Here it seems like he didn't know at all and is trying to get to the bottom of it. So who DID know? The President, Heidegger, and the Turks. Maybe nobody else. Hard to say.

Speaking of the president, here he is in gold statue form. This is a real trip for me, as someone who had a major interest in Shinra Corp growing up.

They've got museums that talk about the founding of Shinra Corp. From humble beginnings, it became a world-dominating superpower.

I think Scarlett is basically their PR person, the Press Secretary if you will, who tells SNN what to say.

An exhibit on SOLDIER. We've still only fought 3rd-class SOLDIER in this game, aside from Roche who I believe is 1st-class. Interested to see how the sequels handle these guys. Are all of the 1st-class SOLDIER going to be nameds, or will some of them be faceless regular foes? And what about the oft-forgotten 2nd-class?

A brief look at the Neo-Midgar plans. Shinra is fine with trashing Midgar because eventually they're going to abandon it for the high-tech Neo-Midgar, which will be situated closer to the Northern Crater and draw directly off of the planet's most abundant sources of Mako. I'd love to see this actually be realized in the Remake sequels, but I don't see how that can happen without massively changing the story. So it's just an idea, here taunting us. It sorta resembles Esthar from FFVIII. Maybe they wanted Neo-Midgar to be in the original and didn't have anywhere near the time to implement it, so they moved all of those ideas over to FFVIII's development. It does get hyped a lot during the tower portion of this game, for a place that we never get to go to.

Here's a model of Proto-Midgar, before the city itself was built onto it. Question is, why would anyone travel here just to live in polluted slums underneath? The same reason anybody moves to a financial center, I'd guess. They travel here expecting to live on the upper plate and instead end up on the lower plate, wondering what happened.

We get a pretty cool VR video of The Ancients and their perfect civilization of the past.

Noted hitman Hart shows up to escort us to Mayor Domino, who has been expecting us. Wait, what?

Oh My God. It's Doctor Wily!

So it turns out that he's basically powerless and the corporation runs everything. He's gonna help us bring 'em down, though.

Two episodes left.

An encore presentation of the Boss Rush.


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