The prospect of buying a new psp game is always a crapshoot. How much will I have to use the shitty analog nub? How slow will the UMD load? Will the main character think she's talking to God? Now that I've gotten a chance to play with Square-Enix's latest FF7 retread, Crisis Core, I think I can address some of these concerns.
If you haven't much time to read this, consider these questions: If you like unskippable, random tech-materia summoning animations, you are going to LOVE Crisis Core. If just thinking about Sephiroth's 8-hour long planet-destroying Super Nova magic makes you wet, and if your interface experience with the psp begins, and ends, with the X button, this is the game for you.
Zack Fair continues the fine JRPG tradition of big swords
and emo hairstyles...
There are some genuinely good aspects to Crisis Core. Character art, dubbing, and music are all top notch, but presentation has never been a challenge for Square. Spend some time with the game though, and you'll be turned off by repetitive missions, textures, and an annoying spawn system. You always know when enemies are going to attack, and given the linear nature of most maps, if you beat a group of enemies, then turn around accidentally and reenter the spawn point, you have to fight them again.
Leveling up in Crisis Core doesn't make much sense. A roulette wheel (sorry, Digital Mind Wave) constantly spins as you fight, sometimes kicking out scores that give you temporary powerups, or triggering the aforementioned unskippable spells. This system also determines when you raise levels, and it is here that the randomness of the the roulette wheel is shown to be total bullshit: you only raise levels when you fight big enemies or tough groups. No amount of grinding makes a difference to your character's development.
I found myself avoiding fights as much as possible since low-level enemies never earned me anything more than a potion or some gil. Even when you do raise a level or get an attribute buff it doesn't feel like any sort of accomplishment.
Square-Enix's merger may have been good for the bottom line, but I don't see how it benefits gamers. If I wanted to watch unskippable animations I'd pre-order Metal Gear Solid 4. If I wanted to mash the X button endlessly I'd have finished Dungeon Siege. But, in the end, considering the particular standards for excellence of this blog, I'm sure I'll bring Crisis Core on my next trip to the crapper.