02 September 2012

Finally! The Seventh Fantasy (V)

You may have noticed that the four previous installments of Finally! The Seventh Fantasy have dealt with specifics. I haven't made any broad statements about Final Fantasy VII's story, structure, or mechanics, and that's intentional. Reviews and criticism tend to recap the big picture upfront, but that's difficult to while writing about a game as you play it. Now that I've finally played enough to get a sense of what's happening, I can make some effort to break it down for you, dear readers. Today, we'll talk story.

Our adventure begins with AVALANCHE, a radical eco-terrorism group, attacking a few machine gun-toting guards with swords and automatic weapons of their own. To be fair, the dystopian city of Midgar is awfully bleak, but it's a troubling way to be introduced to our supposed heroes. AVALANCHE is a ragtag bunch of infighting guerrillas with their own motivations for fighting. Barret believes the Shinra company is sucking the life out the Planet, which I guess is a thing in this universe, maybe? Cloud is a bad boy who plays by his own rules, as bad boys are wont to do. Biggs and Wedge...want to remind you that Star Wars exists? That's enough reason to risk your life blowing up power plants, right?

Okay, so it's not so difficult to accept that Shinra, a gigantic energy company, could be a little corrupt, or that their plants could cause environmental harm. Let's just go with that, because your first objective as a player is to sneak into a Shinra facility and bomb a generator. It's more comforting to think that you're delivering comeuppance to an Enron or a BP than it is to imagine the lights shutting off at Midgar Medical Hospital because some guy with a gun in place of an arm told you that Mother Earth is crying, man.

After successfully pulling off the mission, the members of AVALANCHE hop aboard a train back to their hideout, and I have to say that I appreciate AVALANCHE's efforts to stay green by riding public transportation. The base is hidden in the basement of dive bar lit by a neon sign that says "Texas," which is a baffling sight in a fantasy world. Is Texas actually a place here? Is Texas a fictional brand of beer, maybe? I can only hope these questions will be answered by the game's end. For now, I am helplessly nonplussed.

The next day, our plucky crew sets out to bomb another generator, and that's exactly where we'll pick up tomorrow, children. 

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