Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Won’t Feature New Story Elements, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s a Basic Remaster

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Ever since Final Fantasy 7 Remake concluded with its shocking reveal, fans have been speculating on the possibility of a Crisis Core remaster. The moment was certainly ripe for an updated release of the prequel starring Zack Fair, the warrior with a suspicious resemblance to Cloud Strife. Aside from its connections to Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s story, Crisis Core has been difficult to find in recent years, forcing fans to resort to emulators and other measures.

That made Square Enix’s announcement of a Crisis Core remaster, which coincided with last month’s reveal of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, all the more welcome. It’s not any mere port, either. Square Enix is overhauling the graphics, the interface, and somewhat controversially, the voice cast.

“Various improvements have been made to nearly all other scenes and battles, to a point where it could be said that the work we are doing is akin to creating a ‘remake,’” producer Mariko Sato says. “However, as the core elements such as the story are grounded in the original work, we call it a ‘remaster.’”

A Faithful Retelling

Speaking with IGN in a brand-new interview, Sato discussed Square Enix’s intentions for the remaster, outlining the differences between the various platforms and whether or not it will ultimately connect with Rebirth. Veteran producer Yoshinori Kitase was also on hand to shed some light on how the project managed to be greenlit in the first place.

According to Kitase, Crisis Core was not conceived in response to Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s infamous reveal. Rather, Kitase says Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s successful development led Square Enix to realize that other stories from the universe could be updated as well.

“[T]here isn’t really an exact date that I can point to at the moment, but I do recall that it was towards the end of the Final Fantasy VII Remake development that we realized that with the quality we were able to bring to Final Fantasy VII Remake, we might be able to create something for the stories that are actually surrounding Final Fantasy VII. And it is an actual possibility that we can develop Crisis Core. So that’s the timing at which we decided that yes, this remake can actually happen,” Kitase says.

Crisis Core’s history stretches back to the days of the PSP, when fans were pining for a Final Fantasy 7 remake on PS3. Sony’s humble handheld couldn’t come close to matching its HD sibling, but Crisis Core still felt like a technical achievement at the time, reimagining the original game’s locations in far greater detail than the original PlayStation could imagine.

“Issues aside, Crisis Core is a great PSP game — no question. It honors Final Fantasy VII’s legacy,” our review said at the time.

It has remained popular with fans in the years since, who laud its excellent finale as being among the best moments in the series. Crisis Core also made Zack, who mainly existed on the periphery of the original game, one of the most popular characters in the series. Until now, though, Crisis Core has been largely locked to the PSP.

As the core elements such as the story are grounded in the original work, we call it a ‘remaster.’

When Reunion was finally announced last month, fan reaction was largely positive, with plenty noting what seemed like significantly enhanced visuals. But there were also questions. Just how deep would this remaster (or remake) go? And what about the voice cast led by Rick Gomez, who did so much to bring Zack to life in the first place?

On the first point, it’s apparent that Crisis Core will be a substantial update indeed. In addition to overhauled graphics, Crisis Core will be fully voiced while also featuring a newly-arranged soundtrack. The gameplay is also getting an update, with Zack’s attack combos now being linkable and Limit Breaks being accessible at any time, not just when they pop up in the in-game slot machine, known as the Digital Mind Wave system or DMW. The DMW for its part will remain largely the same, meaning that elements such as leveling will remain random as ever.

In the meantime, all of the original’s assets are being replaced, with the updated versions utilizing Unreal Engine 4, the intention being to be “visually aligned and up to the standards of Final Fantasy 7 Remake,” according to Sato. To that end, the PC version will target an impressive 120fps while the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions will be 60fps (Sato didn’t elaborate on the Switch version but did say that there would be “differences” in the resolution and FPS).

“Our main purpose with this title is that we wanted a really wide range of players to be able to play on whatever platform that they desired,” Kitase says. “So we’re looking forward to seeing which platform that players go for because the gaming experience will be solid and the same great experience on all platforms.”

Square Enix’s attempt to align with Final Fantasy 7 Remake is impacting not just the visual but the voice acting as well, to the consternation of some of the more dedicated fans of the series. In the wake of the announcement, many of the most upvoted comments lamented the loss of Gomez and other members of the original team.

Kitase describes the decision in terms of renewal.

“[S]ince Final Fantasy VII was a title that have been beloved for 20 years, we wanted to ensure that with this renewed project, the Final Fantasy VII Remake project, that it would be loved for another 20 years to come. And so that’s when we invited a whole new cast of voice actors into the title,” Kitase explains.

Gomez was replaced by Caleb Pierce back in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, so the change is expected. Nevertheless, at least some fans miss Gomez, with one going so far as to edit the original voice actor into Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Take heart though: Crisis Core Reunion will also feature the return of Briana White, who so wonderfully brought Aerith to life in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

In other areas, meanwhile, Crisis Core Reunion will remain faithful to the original game. According to Sato and Kitase, fans shouldn’t expect new story content in the update, which explains why Square Enix is referring to it as a remaster despite the substantial improvements being made across the board

“With the FF VII Remake, it was a new starting point for a Final Fantasy VII, and so we decided to expand the story. But with the Crisis Core Reunion, it is a remaster and it’s still positioned as a story that expands on the original Final Fantasy VII story. And so we didn’t want to stray too far from that,” Kitase says.

Sato adds that there are “no plans” to include any new elements in the story, meaning new side quests and other storylines are most likely out the window. But that doesn’t necessarily preclude, say, a post-credits teaser that sets the stage for Rebirth.

The Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 Reborn

When Crisis Core Reunion is released later this year, it will in some ways be the culmination of the Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 project that began way back in the early 2000s. Like the PSP game before it, it will be intimately connected to the main game, providing crucial context while telling an entertaining story of its own.

Square Enix’s recent history with remakes and remasters has been checkered, to put it kindly, with classics like Secret of Mana marred by poor graphics and strange design choices. Kitase and Sato don’t acknowledge any particular lessons learned from earlier projects, but do say that Square Enix has been “listening to feedback” from fans. That much is evident in the work being put into Crisis Core Reunion, which is shaping up to be a major improvement on the slapdash ports of the past.

More importantly, it reflects a degree of faith in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake project. Whatever happens, it seems as if Square Enix wants to make sure this is done right.

“I’ve been watching a lot of reaction videos of people just reacting to the announcements and it really gives me the sense that a lot of people are out there waiting for these games and seeing their reaction is in a sense, very satisfying,” Kitase says. “Yes, we are able to provide these things to the fans, so it’s been great.”

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion does not yet have a release date, but Square Enix is aiming for Winter 2022.

Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.

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Author: Kat Bailey

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