Game Reviews

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade Review

Even better than before.

by Dean James
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

Final Fantasy VII Remake once felt like a dream at best, but that all changed when it was officially revealed at E3 2015. It went through some development troubles that led to the game being brought internally at Square Enix, leading to multiple delays. What was once thought to be just a dream became reality last April when Final Fantasy VII Remake finally released, though it was only the first part of an undetermined at this time series. While it is still likely years away from the next entry, Square Enix has delivered the much expected PS5 upgrade as Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade alongside a brand new DLC expansion starring everybody’s favorite ninja Yuffie.

The release of Final Fantasy VII Remake last year was exclusive to PlayStation 4, which still looked superb at the time. There were a few texture issues here and there, including the infamous motel door, but the overall visual design was even better than expected. The recreation of the world within Midgar only for this game was downright amazing, giving life to a part of the game that was less than 10 hours in the original Final Fantasy VII. There were also some very interesting directions taken with the story that were pretty divisive overall, but really do help setup a very intriguing future for the Remake series that make it better than just doing an exact story recreation of the original.

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Another massive and risky move was the complete revamping of the gameplay to action-based combat from the turn-based combat of the original. Considering this is just the first part of the series, there are only four playable characters with Cloud, Tifa, Barret, and Aerith, with three of them being able to be used at any one time. You can control any of the four that are currently available, as well as being able to issue commands to your party members with ease during battle. For those that really want an old school feel with the combat, the game also has a special Classic difficulty that allows you to do the equivalent of a turn-based approach with auto-attacks, though it doesn’t feel anywhere near as fun as the newly introduced combat.

Final Fantasy VII Remake already looked fantastic outside of the few texture issues before, but now Intergrade has improved upon it further. The textures that were problems in the original release have been fixed now and no longer stand out like a sore thumb when they show up in the game, along with numerous lightning and background environment enhancements like fog. In addition, the game now offers two different game modes to choose from, Graphics or Performance. Graphics Mode prioritizes displaying graphics at a 4K resolution, while Performance Mode prioritizes maintaining a 60 fps framerate. This is pretty standard across many games these days, but it’s very useful here. Being able to experience the game in full 4K is a sight to see, but having the 60 fps prioritization is a real game changer with the fluidity of the combat and game as a whole.

60 fps prioritization is a real game changer

The Intergrade release on PS5 has also introduced a popular feature in modern gaming, Photo Mode. This can be accessed easily from the pause menu at anytime during the game, with a full array of settings and filters for you to get the perfect picture. With the improved visuals of this version, Photo Mode allows you to capture the true beauty of this latest release.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade also introduces a feature native to the PS5 with Haptic Feedback on the DualSense controller. However, the implementation of this is pretty lacking overall. This was no surprise as Director Tetsuya Nomura had said previously it would only be ‘partially supported,’ but it’s still something that can definitely be built upon for the future entries.

Besides the multiple improvements and additions made to the game as part of Intergrade, there is a brand new piece of story DLC that is exclusive to the PS5 version of the game known as Intermission. This comes included in the actual PS5 version outright or can be purchased for extra for those that had the free upgrade to the PS5 version. Intermission isn’t just some small hour long story DLC either, but rather a pretty meaty four to five hour experience if you aren’t just breezing through it.

The Intermission DLC stars a new character to Final Fantasy VII Remake, but one that fans of the original Final Fantasy VII should know with Yuffie. Yuffie Kisaragi is a teenage ninja and Materia hunter from the nation of Wutai, who was an optional party member in the original game. This time though she takes front and center in a very enjoyable few hours story that starts with her arriving in Midgar in search of Avalanche.

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Yuffie has been sent by Wutai to meet up with Avalanche to then infiltrate Shinra HQ and steal their greatest Materia. The actual narrative reasoning for this is a bit basic, but it’s explained that stealing the Materia would deal a blow to Shinra and their reputation for allowing a Wutaian to sneak in and take their most precious item.

Rather than take place after the events of Final Fantasy VII Remake, which we won’t spoil since there could be some people playing Intergrade as their first way through the game, Yuffie’s adventure takes place concurrent to the base game. In fact, we see some of the core characters show up here and there, with one in particular fairly early on definitely showcasing where it is taking place time wise. Outside of these few scenes though, we mostly just see some new characters introduced in this DLC, most of which are new to the Final Fantasy VII mythos entirely.

There are a number of new characters introduced that play a larger, including some additional Avalanche members like Nayo or Polk. The most important of the bunch though is a fellow Wutaian named Sonon Kusakabe, who makes his way to Midgar ahead of Yuffie to help prepare for their mission. Sonon has a tragic backstory, where his sister sacrificed herself to save him from Shinra mechs. This also ties in well with one of the main antagonists of the DLC named Scarlet, the Head of Weapons Development for Shinra that people who played the original game should recognize.  There is also one other antagonist and an ancillary character that shows up at the very end and make a big impact, which come from one of the Final Fantasy VII spin-offs. You don’t get to see too much of them here, but hopefully they will play into the future of the Remake games or perhaps other spin-offs.

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Intermission is split into two chapters, the first of which is spent around Sector 7 and the second of which is focused on Shinra HQ. After a short introductory section, Yuffie makes her way to the familiar Sector 7 Slums and you are able to explore it just like in the base game. This first chapter has a main story segment that you can pursue, but there are also a few sidequests for you to complete first. Most of these are pretty simple, such as finding all of the Happy Turtle flyers, or taking down Ramuh to earn his Summon Materia in a VR Mission, but the most involved one is known as Fort Condor.

Fort Condor was a location in the original game that you could visit that housed a strategy mini-game within it, which has been turned into simply Fort Condor this time. This mini-games takes place on a board where you face off against one opponent with your army versus theirs. These armies are made up of enemy characters cards you can collect based on Shinra forces and then placing them on the field based on the mode’s ATB setup. Each side has three bases to protect, two outer bases and the central base. The goal is to destroy as many of the opponent’s bases as you can during the time limit or simply destroy their central HQ base first as a win condition as well. This features tower defense mixed with other strategy games for a pretty fun experience, especially once you start to build up your army with improved cards.

This mini-game also serves as a neat way to talk with some returning characters, as the ones you face are found throughout the Sector 7 Slums. You start off being able to take on Rank 1 competitors like Johnny, before making it to Rank 2 by defeating all of the Rank 1 players, eventually making your way up to Rank 4 and facing off with a fellow Avalanche member you will definitely recognize. This works well as a way to allow you to do a few and then push the story forward in the first chapter and then come back to do the rest.

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Outside of the very beginning, it actually may feel like there isn’t much combat in Intermission while you are tackling these sidequests and getting some story exposition, but that really kicks into gear in the latter half of Chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2. Yuffie and Sonon are your only two party members, with only able to actually control Yuffie in battle. However, you can issues commands to Sonon just like you could with teammates in the base game, just without the ability to actually switch to him.

Yuffie’s combat is really interesting, as it focuses around her large shuriken weapons. Yuffie has the ability to do hand-to-hand combat, but she works even better when tossing the shuriken and attacking from afar from the weapon is stuck around the enemy. This gets even better when you mix in her Elemental Ninjutsu attacks that let you infuse the shuriken with Fire, Ice, Lighting, or Wind. From there, you can unleash these elements upon the enemy without even having to use any MP.

Like every party member in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Yuffie has a number of abilities and spells available to her, the latter of which will require you equipping the right Materia to her. She also has a few different shurikens that you can find and equip too, which each have their own unique ability like with all weapons. While Sonon can’t be controlled directly, he works just like Yuffie with the equipping of weapons, upgrading of weapons, and equipping of Materia. The fast moving action-based combat feels just as fluid and natural as it does in the base game, with Yuffie being a blast to play as once you get the hang of her arsenal.

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Some side story DLC in games end up pretty lackluster, but that is certainly not the case with Intermission. Introducing a fan favorite like Yuffie into this Remake series was a great choice here and really helps to expand the world just a little more ahead of the inevitable second entry. It also has some nice treats related to the main story as well near the end, which make the entire experience worth playing on top of just being a really enjoyable four to five hours with everybody’s favorite Wutaian.

Final Fantasy VII Remake was already one of the best games to release not only last year, but of this past console generation, and now the Intergrade release improves even further upon that. One of the biggest flaws of the original with the disappointing textures in areas has been fixed, along with a number of other visual upgrades. That is not even to mention the new Intermission DLC that introduces Yuffie into the mix and fleshes out the story of some other events happening at the same time as the original that hopefully will turn out to be important moving forward. Whether you are getting the PS5 upgrade for free and paying for the DLC or just buying the full new version of the game outright, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade and Intermission are a must own combo for the PlayStation 5.

The Verdict

Not only improving on the visuals and giving players a much requested Photo Mode, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade also adds the stellar Yuffie focused Intermission DLC that is an absolute must play for fans of the original and new game alike.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

"loved"
loved

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

  • Score: 5 / 5
  • Available On: PS5
  • Published By: Square Enix
  • Developed By: Square Enix
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • US Release Date: June 10, 2021
  • Reviewed On: PS5
  • Quote: "Not only improving on the visuals and giving players a much requested Photo Mode, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade also adds the stellar Yuffie focused Intermission DLC that is an absolute must play for fans of the original and new game alike."
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