Why then, do I like it so much? Well, partly it comes down to presentation. Crisis Core gives you a pretty good impression of what FFVII might have looked like had it arrived on PS2. The character models and the environments are some of the strongest on Sony’s handheld and no expense has been spared when it comes to lavish CGI cut scenes. Fans of the PSX original will be delighted enough just by the sight of the Ifrit or Bahophomet summons recreated in glorious CGI form. The music, much of it quoted direct from FFVII, is superb and while the voice work has its irritations – Zack is nicknamed ‘The Puppy’ for a reason, reminding you of a certain Dogtanian at times – the overall quality is very good. While most PSP games feel like second-raters, Crisis Core is A-List all the way.
Above that, however, this is one of the few PSP games of the year that has involved me and kept me engaged for hour after hour after hour. The nostalgia factor plays a major part in this, but that’s not discounting Square-Enix’s ability to tell an interesting story, create new and intriguing characters and deliver basic but still addictive action. And though the adventure isn’t comparable to a proper FF in terms of length, it’s beefed up by a huge selection of optional side-missions, and rounded out by little touches such as a personal and company email system, some cool cameos from other FFVII characters, and a solid amount of background detail. Even if Crisis Core feels a bit like an interactive FFVII nostalgia fest at times – and it does – it’s always an entertaining one. Finally, it’s not too difficult, either. In fact, seasoned FF stalwarts will probably find the default setting a little too easy and want to switch to the Hard mode from the off.
Would I be so kind if it wasn’t FFVII and it wasn’t on the PSP? Probably not, but I’d still only dock it by a point at most. For me, if you loved FFVII and you have a PSP it’s a no-brainer: buy Crisis Core. If one or both conditions do not apply, then there’s probably little reason to bother, but does that make the game any the worse? Not one bit. While I’d like to say that Crisis Core was a strong enough title to stand up on its own, it isn’t, but – all the same – it’s a game that does no disrespect to its illustrious inspiration, and the first FFVII spin off that really feels like a reward for the classic game’s fans.
The simplistic gameplay is mildly disappointing, but as a chance to get back to Midgar and meet up with old favourites, Crisis Core is unmissable for FFVII fans.