Expectations must be properly set before diving into this beautiful first entry in Square Enix's long-awaited retelling of the story of Ex-SOLDIER Cloud Strife. Covering only the first handful of hours of the original game, Final Fantasy VII: Remake takes it slow, providing a much deeper look at the politics and population of Midgar as well as the stories and backgrounds of several important characters. Players accustomed to geographically epic Final Fantasy stories in which they explore an entire planet won't get that here. This is a small but visually sumptuous and emotionally resonant experience that brings to life familiar characters in new ways, but players should go in knowing that not all of their favorite personalities, summoned entities, quests, music, and moments are present. Many of these things are bound to come in later installments, but, for now, players are meant to be satisfied with an expanded Midgar that provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the city's people, more clearly explains the potential evils of oversized corporations, and shows the lasting impact and consequences of an eco-terrorist organization that has noble ambitions but suffers tragically from a lack of foresight.
Scope and story aside, Final Fantasy VII: Remake provides players with combat, quest, and growth systems that draw from the original but are ultimately new and unique. For example, combat's designed to be action oriented with players tapping buttons to attack in real time, choosing commands for special attacks, magical spells, and items as appropriate -- a major departure from the source game's traditional turn-based fighting. A "Classic" mode automates attacks and allows players to pause the action at will in order to command characters, though it should be noted this makes the game much, much easier and won't be to all tastes. And while iconic summoned entities -- a key part of the original experience -- such as the goddess Shiva and the demon Ifrit, may still be acquired and used in battle, they appear far less often. The bottom line is that what's present in Final Fantasy VII: Remake is very good and makes for a great start to Square Enix's ambitious recreation of one of the world's most beloved games, but some players are bound to come away wishing there was just a little more meat on this bone.