Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus - Review  

The Crisis: Chapter 3
by Lucky Melchior

Less than 20 Hours
+ Stunning CGI movies.
+ Story expands Final Fantasy VII mythos.
+ A somewhat enjoyable battle system.
- A niche game.
- Unassuming soundtrack.
- Lack of inventory space.
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   In 1997 squaresoft realeased Final Fantasy VII. It was released to quite a bit of fanfare and was critically acclaimed by pundits. By all accounts it was a landmark game, not only in Final Fantasy history, but in RPG history. Years later SquareEnix, Squaresoft had since merged with Enix corporation, implemented the marketing concept of polymorphic content, which is the process of spreading well known properties over multiple platforms and genres. Thus the compilation of Final Fantasy VII was born, Final Fantasy VII being chosen due to "it's vast popularity and the fact the developers felt the ending was open-ended." Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus is one of the chapters of the compilation of Final Fantasy VII. The game is a hybrid between a First Person/Third Person Shooter and an Action RPG.

   The story takes place three years after the conclusion of Final Fantasy VII and one year after the events of Advent Children. The central protagonist is Vincent Valentine. Vincent is staying at the village of Kalm when mysterious soldiers attack and begin kidnapping the villagers. Vincent teams up with the World Regenesis Organization (WRO) which is headed by Reeve/Cait Sith. Vincent and the WRO will continue to combat this mysterious army, with a connection to ShinRa's past, throughout the game and try to reveal their motives. The story delves deep into Vincent's past; his time with ShinRa and his connection to Lucrecia and Hojo. Most of the story is parsed out through the CGI movies that play in between chapters, many of which are flashbacks. Besides Vincent, both Reeve/Cait Sith and Yuffie play somewhat vital roles and their characters get developed some. You even get to play as Cait Sith in one scene. The other characters from Final Fantasy VII all have cameo roles. Overall the story is pretty good and adds to the Final Fantasy VII mythology. Fans of the Final Fantasy VII series may appreciate the additional backstory given to the series. However, the restrictive nature of the first person shooter storytelling prevents the story from being excellent.

First Person Shooting Perspective First Person Shooting Perspective

   As mentioned earlier Dirge of Cerberus is a cross between a first person/third person shooter and an action RPG. The basic structure of the game mechanics are more like a first person shooter, combat plays out in real-time as you roam the respective area of each chapter and shoot hordes of bad guys. You can fire at enemies either in a third person or first person perspective, I prefer shooting in first person perspective as the game is more conducive to a first person shooter. Unlike standard first person shooters, you do not pick up various weapons. Instead you have three base weapons that you can customize by various parts you find. There are three base weapons you can use, handgun, rifle and machine gun. You can customize the barrel size, scope, etc. of each type. Moreover, you can purchase upgrades of each part at vending machine shops locates throughout each chapter. Besides gun parts you can also equip materia on each weapon which allows you to use magic. Magic drains your MP, which can be restored either by using an ether or stepping on mako points that are peppered throughout each area. Besides your guns and magic, you can use melee attacks. Also you can use a limit breaker item to use your limit break and transform Vincent into a beast. Both melee attacks and your limit break can only be performed in third-person perspective. The RPG elements come into play in that you gain experience when defeating opponents. However, your experience points are not totaled until after you complete the chapter, or are killed prior to finishing it. Also at the end of each chapter the game tabulates how you did on typical first person shooter stats such as accuracy and performance of chapter goals, you can gain bonus experience and gil based on how well you do on these stats. Overall Dirge of Cerberus has an enjoyable battle system, but may not be enjoyed by those who do not enjoy first person shooters and RPGs.

Third Person Shooting Perspective Third Person Shooting Perspective

   The graphics are one of the game's strongest attributes. The in game characters and environs are all reasonably detailed as you maneuver Vicent around massive 3d environments. However, the most appealing aspect of the game visually are the stunning CGI movies that play in the beginning and end of each chapter. One CGI movie in particular that plays about half-way through the game is worth the price of admission by itself and rivals any of the special effects seen in Advent Children. Overall Dirge of Cerberus' visual presentation is excellent.

   Nobou Umetsu is noticeably missing from the soundtrack of this game which makes it feel somewhat detached from the original game. While Advent Children featured many tracks from the original game as well as new tracks, Dirge of Cerberus lacks any tracks that connect it to the original Final Fantasy VII. For the most part, the tracks in Dirge of Cerberus serve as background music and ambiance that accompany the eerie settings and constant combat. While the opening theme is very good, the remainder of the tracks are average at best and, again, serve primarily as background music. Overall the soundtrack is average.

   The game's interaction and interface are a bit of a mixed bag. The actual menu system is top notch and easy to navigate. The controls are completely customizable from the options screen; while items and equipment are easy to manage. There is a serious lack of inventory space which seems pointless. Especially since it does not cap the total amount of items or equipment you can carry, but rather limits how much of each item you can carry. For example you can carry a maximum of 2 hi-potions at a time. This seems to have no purpose other than artificially inflating the difficulty. Another flaw in the interface is the actual control of your character. It can often be awkward to switch between first person and third person perspective and the camera may re-align so that the enemey you are fighting is not in view, therefore you may have to manually move the camera to bring the enemy back in view, all the while taking damage. Overall Dirge of Cerberus has middling interaction.

   Overall Dirge of Cerberus is a somewhat enjoyable game that is slightly above average. It is an interesting meld of two genres, but it is a very niche game. While some fans of Final Fantasy VII may enjoy this game, I highly recommending renting this game first unless you are an avid gamer of first person shooters and action RPGs.

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