Import review:Crisis Core is a game associated with the most highly regarded PlayStation RPG of all time. No pressure, mind, because FFVII fans were probably already expecting nothing but mediocrity after the PS2's middling Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. Well, here's the good news: Crisis Core is not an average game. It's an exceptional one.
For a start, it pushes the PSP hardware like never before. From the quality of its FMV cutscenes to the finely detailed and richly textured in-game environments and character animations, Crisis Core is technically flawless. And for players who are hoping for a nostalgia trip, Crisis Core delivers by revisiting many of FFVII's locations, in glorious PSP-vision. It's like seeing FFVII 's world with new eyes.
It's not all show, either. There's an inventive and engaging game at Crisis Core's gooey warm centre, pushed on by a battle system that wouldn't be out of place in a chip shop: line up three identical icons on a rolling fruit machine display at the top of the battle screen, and you'll trigger an attack linked to whichever icon you land. This setup means that every battle you enter develops in a slightly random way.
Crisis Core focuses on the adventures of Zack, Cloud Strife's old army buddy, and you have real-time control over Zack in all situations - both when exploring Gaia and when engaging in battle. Zack's movements are smooth and he's easy to control (but we'd recommend D-pad control over the PSP's analogue stick, because the stick feels a bit ambiguous).
Although it's not on the same scale as Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core is no lightweight. The main track of Zack's quest can be seen in about 12 hours, but there are hundreds of peripheral missions to extend playtime significantly. Crucially, there's no downtime - no dawdling - and the battle system never becomes tiresome. The result is all the quality and depth of FFVII coupled with PSP's unique accessibility and immediacy.
Crisis Core is a fine PSP adaptation of FFVII's key qualities, taking inspiration from its dramatic cutscenes and magic (Materia still has a big role), but cutting away the fat (lengthy wandering, and an overlong centre) to present the critical core of FFVII's enduring spirit.
Crisis Core is more than a nostalgia trip for FFVII fans - it's a fresh and exciting game in its own right, and arguably the single most impressive application of the PSP's power.