The Realities of a Final Fantasy VII Remake

Realistically speaking, if Final Fantasy VII actually were to be re-released in a high definition format, what do you think the game would look like? What would it play like? Those are the questions that keep dogging my mind whenever I hear fans ask for the project.

It’s one of the most requested things in console gaming right now, and I’ll admit that it definitely has potential to move sales and make money for Square Enix, but it’s an issue of actually making it. I just don’t see how Square Enix would do it.

The overriding problem here is SE’s track record when it comes to actually producing and developing current generation console games. Throughout this entire generation Square Enix has internally developed a total of two PS3 games and one Xbox 360 game (and one PC game). Final Fantasy XIII took more than five years to make – to much criticism of its scale, they had to have Tri-Ace help out with XIII-2, and we still don’t know where the hell Versus XIII is. I honestly don’t think they could bring out an FFVIII with the same production values in any reasonable amount of time.

Now let’s just say that they could do it or that they did the unthinkable – contracted the project out to another developer like Kojima did with Metal Gear Solid: it’s not even very clear what kind of project it would be.

I think that a simple HD port in the fashion of many PS2 games this generation is out of the question, as it is for almost any PS1 game. The main reason is because FFVII’s environments, like those of so many games of that era, are two-dimensional background images that can’t simply be upscaled. It’s not just a simple resolution bump like most PS2 games – they’d have to re-do all the game’s environments from scratch. By that point it’s such a massive undertaking that SE might as well re-do everything. That’s not even including FFVII’s liberal use of CG cut scenes – which would also need to be re-done, and its woefully outdated character models.

Every game of that era that has been remade has been done in the form of a complete graphical overhaul on the PS2, Gamecube, or Wii. Examples include the original Resident Evil, the first Silent Hill game, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Tomb Raider Anniversary, and the N64 games that Nintendo overhauled on the 3DS. You also have a handful of games from the late days of that era and the Dreamcast years that ended up on Xbox Live Arcade with slight visual upgrades. I personally see two good options for a “new” FFVII.

The first would be something similar to what Capcom did with the original Resident Evil on the Gamecube. Theoretically one could redesign the same game in SE’s upcoming Luminous engine: re-do the characters in FFXIII-quality, re-do all environments in real time but with the same camera angles, re-do all cut scenes – most of them in real time, and add voice acting. Aside from who would actually be able to make it in any reasonable amount of time, the other issue is whether or not FFVII’s gameplay mechanics would hold up on consoles today for anyone other than diehard fans.

The other option in my mind is to basically create an entirely new game with FFVII’s art, characters, and story. On one end you could re-introduce the game in a more modern format, but on the other hand it would probably displease purist fans. Plus, the issue of SE even being able to get the game out in a reasonable amount of time only grows.

I think these same problems stand before remakes of other PS1 classics like Resident Evil 2 and the other PS1 Final Fantasy games. Because of the way so many games were made back then, virtually none of their assets are re-usable today which mandates complete remakes which are paramount to entirely new projects. I’m not really sure how possible or likely endeavors like this are, I’m just trying to envision some plausible outcomes because I’m tired of people requesting remakes of PS1 games without actually thinking about what that means.

BULLETS:

  • Five hours into Xenoblade and I’m still messing around with quests in the first town. It’s massive.
  • Finally upgraded my copy of The Witcher 2 to the enhanced edition and it’s threatening to pull me back in even though I kinda need to get to some other games.
  • A new adventure game made in the style of the old ones called Gemini Rue is currently on sale on Steam.
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