The original Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII release for the PlayStation Portable back in 2007 was praised as the best spin-off in the FFVII world, and Crisis Core Reunion gives a welcome visual and mechanical facelift to the game and its cast of characters. The story of this prequel is a welcome and touching one, effectively giving even more emotional context for the story in the original game – and, presumably, the forthcoming Remake trilogy.
There are some solid original characters in this game, but seeing the classic characters certainly helped drive this story home. Zack himself is a major plus, and so is seeing the buildup to Sephiroth’s fall from grace.
Just as important as Aerith’s appearance in this prequel tale was that of Cloud Strife. The leading man from Final Fantasy VII is shrouded in mystery, even to him, with much of his origins going uncovered until venturing deep into the questline of that game. Here, Cloud appears as an entry-level SOLDIER member to meet Zack for the first time, with players able to see their growing bond in his brief time in this game.
And as far as impact goes, the crushing finale involving the two in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is the most powerful going into the mainline game. Only time and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth‘s release will tell what, if any, has changed from the original PS1 classic.
Though he had a minimal presence via flashbacks in Final Fantasy VII (and Remake), the protagonist himself is a major reason why Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion works as a concept. Zack Fair under the spotlight gives this game a wonderful new perspective on the events of the main game – including a layer of tragedy.
As opposed to Cloud’s brand of brooding charm that won over so many fans, Zack’s endearing “puppy-like” personality is a welcome change of pace and makes for a new protagonist that players can’t help but root for and feel invested in.
Even though there have been many excellent female Final Fantasy characters introduced over the decades, Aerith Gainsborough remains one of the most beloved and memorable in this 35-year-old franchise. And given her importance in the main game, Cloud, and her revealed ties to Zack, it was inevitable that she’d have a big supporting role to play in Crisis Core Reunion.
Seeing the blossoming romance between her and Zack throughout the story is a heartwarming sight that simultaneously gives more weight to the crushing moments of this game and (at least the original) Final Fantasy VII.
The Turks from Final Fantasy VII have earned some affection from the fans, and it’s good to see them make a return for this prequel story. Tseng is perhaps the best of the bunch in Crisis Core Reunion, with the composed and capable leader of the Turks assisting Zack on their missions early on.
He takes on a more refreshingly hands-on approach in this story given its tighter focus on Shinra. Overall, Tseng greatly benefits from being more fleshed out in Crisis Core Reunion‘s story.
Arguably among the highest tier of Final Fantasy villains, Sephiroth’s role in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion was undoubtedly one of the most important ones when it comes to returning characters. But where Sephiroth served as the all-imposing lead antagonist in both incarnations of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core Reunion leans harder into the character’s tragic element by showing him before his fall.
In this story, he’s quite the noble leader for the most part and getting to see the origins of his friendship with Genesis and Angeal added even more character, resonance, and context to his aforementioned fall from grace.
Tifa Lockhart served as a major supporting role and the biggest love interest to Cloud in the original game, and her younger appearance in Crisis Core Reunion is a welcome nod to her days in Nibelheim.
Fans see glimmers of this through the flashbacks that Cloud experiences, but it’s nice to see her meeting Zack in this prequel and filling in some visual blanks. Her appearance in Crisis Core also features a nice easter egg that references the heartfelt promise Cloud made to her before he went off to join SOLDIER.
Yuffie Kisaragi was featured in the original game as one of the optional party members players could recruit for Cloud and co.’s quest to stop the calamity Sephiroth attempts to reign. And in the original game and protagonist role for Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s DLC expansion, she’s always been bursting with personality.
Hailing from Wutai, Yuffie has consistently held deep devotion toward her homeland and fighting off the encroaching Shinra forces, but she doesn’t sacrifice her bubbly traits in the process. Her biggest contribution to Crisis Core Reunion‘s main story is admittedly short, but her first interaction with Zack is nonetheless endearing.
Of the Turks, Reno is certainly the one with the biggest air of cockiness around him. Delightfully so, however, as it adds to his charm and helps give each member of the group a distinct personality.
In the original game and Remake, Reno has always given off a sense of rivalry whenever Cloud would clash with him. He doesn’t feature as prominently in Crisis Core Reunion compared to Tseng, but he’s a welcome sight to give the overall world of Final Fantasy VII a satisfying and rewarding sense of continuity for longtime fans.
To round out the Turks, there’s Rude to fill in the role of the “strong and silent” type. He’s always had his own appeal with this, though, especially thanks to the sharp contract between him and his rowdy comrade-in-arms Reno.
And like with Reno, his appearance in Crisis Core Reunion is more of a cameo, but it’s still great for longtime fans to see the two together in action again. Both Rude and Reno appear on the streets of Sector 8 in Midgar to help quell the outbreak of Genesis Copies before Zack gets a chance to arrive on the scene.
Professor Hojo serves as one of the most menacing and shadowy figures of the Final Fantasy VII world. Especially so in the main game where his connection to the Nibelheim Incident and Sephiroth’s origins is revealed. That makes his appearance in Crisis Core Reunion a suitably foreboding one, and even more so for veteran fans who know what comes next.
In addition to the ominous presence he naturally provides, Hojo is also given a gameplay function in Crisis Core Reunion by giving Zack increasingly tough battles against genetically altered monsters and virtual reality simulations.