Final Fantasy 7 Remake for PS4 and PS5 was a game that, despite some flaws, lived up to expectations. Even before the premiere, a cautious player, seasoned by disappointment, watched subsequent trailers in which they saw their favorite characters, but also saw a dynamic combat system that wasn't turn-based. Other news were not optimistic either the story changes and the division of the FF7 story into parts, which perhaps aroused the greatest controversy.
- The same great game with INTERmission DLC;
- Cool story, engaging combat, better textures;
- The beloved Matter system;
- Contrary to opinion, this is not the worst port in history...
- ...But it's undoubtedly among the worst;
- Poor game configuration options;
- If the game stutters on your hardware, you won't do anything about it;
- No support for ultrawide monitors;
- Exorbitant price;
- Some ugly textures.
In the end, it turned out well. The changes made, though drastic in places, were warranted, and the old, pixelated 2D world from 1997, was presented to us in a beautiful and heart-touching setting. It worked, although we did not believe it could be done.
Today, at the end of 2021, Square-Enix decides to release Final Fantasy 7 Remake for PC, exclusively at least temporarily on the Epic Games Store. And although I am very happy that subsequent parts of Final Fantasy are released on PC especially since the remake of the seventh part is simply a very good game we also need to highlight a very important context here.
How not to port from consoles to PC?
It is impossible to review a port without this context when a publisher decides to enter a specific platform, the game will be defined by that platform. This is also true for FF7 on the PC, naturally. If you release the game on a specific platform, you have to remember about its particularities. In this case, Square-Enix didn't, or didn't want to keep them in mind.
It's seemingly not bad. Optimization isn't a huge issue it works well on RTX 2k or 3k series or AMD equivalents, though these aren't the cheapest cards out there. The devil is in the details. Or rather lack thereof. If the game doesn't run smoothly whether it's because of the hardware or the software you won't do much about it. You can not lower the quality of screen space reflections, reduce the model's level details, curb particle effects, nor disable and lower the ambient occlusion or anti-aliasing (sic!). Forget any of it. It's not possible to disable or lower any of these options to improve framerate. As a result, the risks of not being able to play this game comfortably are significantly increased. In the case of consoles, the game is prepared for a specific platform with a specific configuration in the case of PC, we're dealing with an open-ended platform, a myriad of possible configurations. That's why it's so important that PC games including, in particular, ports from consoles have options to adjust the displayed graphics to the capabilities of this equipment.
If there are no basic sliders for anti-aliasing, you obviously can't expect advanced features that shine in other PC games. Forget ray-tracing, forget DLSS or FidelityFX. However, whether or not this is a disadvantage is debatable the game itself looks good anyway (apart from some ugly textures, both on character models and in the world I'm just happy Tifa's door were fixed). But the lack of some really basic options, such as the ability to enable or disable V-sync, is a bit of a downer. Really!
So, what options can you adjust in Final Fantasy 7 Remake for PC? Few. You can only change the screen resolution (as long as you don't use more enthusiastic options like 3440x1440 and other 21: 9 resolutions no native ultrawide support, buddy). You can also set the framerate cap, change texture resolution (two options to choose from: low and high...), shadow resolution (low/high), the number of characters displayed on the screen, brightness and... HDR. That's it. These are all the configuration options brought by a 3D game powered by the almighty Unreal Engine 4 released in 2021.
Someone will say why do I need more? It works, doesn't it? Well, not always. I will reiterate this: configuration on the PC is necessary because of the openness of the platform. This should never be an "additional feature." It should be and it is a damn obligation.
Meanwhile, Square-Enix ignores the reality of the platform it released its game on. They ignore that, and charge you 70 bucks for this ignorance.
The nail in the coffin is the choice of the PC platform itself. I am not one of those people who would go to Epic's headquarters with a pitchfork, and who have Gabe Newel's picture in the center spot of their living room. On the contrary; I think all that Steam cares about is money, and their app looks like it was made 15 years ago. However, Epic basically messed up my first approach to FF7 Remake on PC. For some reason known only to Epic Games Store developers the game only ran in Japanese and it could not be changed. I write more about this issue elsewhere, but it's worth emphasizing that a platform addressed to a mass audience which in addition tries to compete with Steam there should be no room for this type of errors. Especially at $70 price tag.
A beautiful story in Corpo Hell
It's a pity because Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a great game. Although the port on the PC is identical to the PS5 version, the remake itself is merely an adaptation of the original not the original itself. So some threads have been changed, others more exposed, others still invented anew. Well, the creators had a right to do it whether we like it or not. While I myself have a bit of mixed feelings about some of the bigger changes, I appreciated the efforts to give more attention to Avalanche group, for example. I like that Jessie, Biggs and Wedge finally have character, opinions and their own 5 minutes. I like the fact that actions of the terrorist group get much better exposition, and the player has more time to reflect on them.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake on PC is the same great game known from consoles, reviving the spirit of the original from 1997... But which, at the same time, suffers from bad decisions of the developers who chose to ignore the specifics of the PC platform, while charging quite a prohibitive sum for it. This simply shouldn't be happening.
The altered locations that I remember from the 90s are the main driving force behind exploration of this world. It's not items, nor new weapons just locations. A run around the 7 slum sector, the famous Seventh Heaven pub, the train graveyard, Midgar reactors, Midgar trains, Don Corneo mansion, church and Aerith's house... For someone who spent a large part of their childhood in the original, myself included, it's an opportunity for truly authentic feels. I ran like a headless chicken through these halls and locations only to compare them to a very old game and I have to say Square-Enix managed to keep the spirit alive!
And with this spirit they try to explain the significantly extended stages of the game. Some of the areas, like the train graveyard, subway tunnels, or sewers now seem pointless, and I'm afraid there are times when we just feel bored. The creators had to somehow fill the game with 25+ hours of content (since they've given up on some events from the original, where we left Midgar at some point), but I'm not sure if extending the combat stages was the right solution. However, I am glad that after these long wanderings and fights, at the end, we have great bosses waiting really, fighting them is pure pleasure!
If you finish the game, the added DLC INTERmission awaits, in which we play the role of one of the favorite heroines of the fans of the seventh part Yuffie. The story of the DLC complements the story from the core game, but if you count on a full-fledged expansion, you will be disappointed. It's only about 5 hours of gameplay.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
All in all, Final Fantasy 7 Remake on PC is the same great game known from consoles, reviving the spirit of the original from 1997... But which, at the same time, suffers from bad decisions of the developers who chose to ignore the specifics of the PC platform, while charging quite a prohibitive sum for it. This simply shouldn't be happening.
Matthias Pawlikowski | Gamepressure.com