Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier, the review of the battle royale of Square Enix



A battle royale on Final Fantasy sounds like something crazy, but the review of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier shows that there’s substance in this idea

It’s easy to immediately brand this game with the label of petty commercial operation, and to a large extent you’d be right, but let’s avoid dismissing the matter too superficially and try to see what’s good about a battle royale shooter on the famous Square Enix series in this review of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier. Because, in fact, there are several things to save: as was expected, the Japanese publisher has not simply thrown to the nets his most important brand to cash easy money on mobile platforms, but has processed the thing in a fairly reasoned and in some respects even appreciable. Mind you, the base remains just that, or a commercial operation aimed at exploiting the brand to trace a game structure well established and likely to succeed, but around this idea has been built an interesting gameplay, exploiting the rich lore of the series in an intelligent way.

The story, in fact, takes us back to Midgar, the famous setting of the first part of Final Fantasy 7 (and its Remake), exploring the background of the SOLDIER program organized by Shinra – from which emerged the same Cloud Strife – staging events dating back 30 years before those seen in the chapter of the RPG to which we refer.

Although it may seem a simple pretext just developed to stage armed battles in that of Midgar, surprisingly also represents a more than sufficient basis for a battle royale, probably much more than we have seen in many other similar games. The fact that you can count on characters and events now settled in the imagination of the players is a significant plus: the idea of going to investigate the origins of the war program of Shinra and maybe discover some secret about Jenova gives an extra gear to this game, as we said in the preview of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier.

Gameplay between battle royale and RPG

In Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier si combatte a Midgar

Beyond the setting, The First Soldier has little to do with Final Fantasy 7: the gameplay is the standard shooter battle royale in all and for all. In the role of a “candidate”, we find ourselves fighting with a third-person view in a large map that represents Midgar and its surroundings, parachuted from an aircraft with 74 other players with the intent to remain the last ones standing at the end of the match. As befits the canon, we must explore the map and collect weapons and equipment from the environment that gradually shrinks as time goes by, all without respawning and therefore trying to survive as long as possible in a highly threatening environment. All according to the chrisms of the genre, then, but Square Enix and Ateam have seen fit to insert some distinctive features in this game, so as to tie it more to the series of reference and release a little ‘slavish imitation of the many direct competitors.

These peculiar elements refer to the RPG tradition of Final Fantasy, although they are obviously immersed in a completely different context. It starts from the division of characters into five different classes, which reflect the “job” typical of the universe of reference and are defined “styles”: Warrior, Sorcerer, Ninja, Monk, Ranger, which vary significantly in the approach to battle. If on the one hand this allows you to range between characters focused on melee attack and others more inclined to magic or ranged combat, on the other hand we must note a certain confusion in the balance, which also join the objective problems of interface and control.

Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier, clash with an enemy mech

Close-up attacks are powerful but difficult to pull off due to the general inaccuracy of the touch screen controls, while ranged attacks give little feeling to the fight and can be inaccurate as well, despite a convenient targeting system and automatic fire as soon as the crosshairs align with the enemy. Everything improves a lot with the use of a compatible controller, but the general confusion remains also due to a definitely bizarre camera management, which can make the fights frustrating.

Other features derived from Final Fantasy are the Materia, the typical magical globes that can be found around the map of Midgar or conquered by knocking down enemies and allow immediate access to specific spells, beyond the standard skills of each class. The spells are the traditional ones of the series, to which are also added some powerful evocations that can give substantial boosts to the possibilities of attack, also varying a little ‘game action.

Another particular element is the presence of monsters that can appear within the map and allow you to get additional bonuses through real PvE sections during the normal battle royale action, a good idea that distinguishes a bit ‘The First Soldier from other battle royale and brings it closer to the RPG.

A somewhat dull Midgar

Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier contains material for evocations

Despite the direct reference to Final Fantasy, The First Soldier’s characterization appears rather anonymous, from character design to map construction. The Midgar represented is functional to a battle royale shooter, with many structures scattered between houses, warehouses and abandoned buildings around in order to offer shelters, areas to explore and loot to discover, but if it were not for the background with the mega-structure that allows a glimpse of the upper areas of the city could easily be mistaken for the scenario of any other similar title. However, some elements from the lore is still present and will please fans of the series: walking around the game areas you can discover references to the church of Aerith, the lair of Avalanche or other typical areas of the Slums. In addition to these, more direct references come from the chocobos used as mounts, evocations and creatures in the PvE sections, but in general the direct link with Final Fantasy is not really obvious in the screenshots of The First Soldier.

Spectacular instead the CG animated sequences and the orchestral soundtrack that takes up some historical themes of the series. It turns out to be a game that can be managed quite well by mobile hardware and is definitely an advantage given its complexity, although there is always to take into account the battery consumption and the large memory space required (over 2 GB).

Comment

Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier in the end is not as crazy an idea as it might seem on paper at its presentation, although the fusion of elements from the famous RPG Square Enix with the battle royale structure succeeds only up to a point. The gameplay in essence is the one a bit ‘trite shooter that we know well by now, with mechanics a bit’ uncertain because of the control system and the poor balance between different classes and weapons, but the elements brought by the tradition of the series are those who can lift a bit ‘situation and distinguish this game from many similar games. The matter and the flashes of RPG represented by the PvE elements are perhaps the best features of The First Soldier, which if nothing else proposes something unexpected, albeit in a rather strange mixture, compared to established standards.

PRO

  • The RPG hybrid elements are interesting
  • Vague links to Final Fantasy lore enrich the scenario
  • Micro-transactions don’t seem aggressive
  • Clash mechanics a bit uncertain, between balance and controls
  • Few new features compared to the standard and implemented in a not entirely convincing way
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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