Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Play Final Fantasy VII (Part 3): Seventh Heaven

I have to apologize for the last update. It has a massive 21 images in it, and it takes forever to load. I probably should have split it up into two parts, ending the first at the explosion. If you're reading this on a mobile device, I apologize.

In my defense though, these posts encompass only a few minutes of gameplay. I get to a minor stopping point, start writing, and end up with a post that is enormous. It's honestly going to be a while before that changes, too.

The team gets off the train, and Barret gives us a little pep talk.

Yay yay, let's bomb them civillian targets!

There's a couple in the left part of this screen that are making out. It's really cute. They talk about how the only place nearby where they can be alone is the "spooky" train graveyard, which sucks for them. It's pretty clear that there's going to be some sex in their near future. The minor NPCs in this game are so much better than in previous games, and they make you feel like there's a living world out there. There's so much more detail in the little things that you miss if you're not going at a snail's pace (like this LP, lol).

We find a guy just by the save point who is looking at the support structure for the plate.

This statement is frightening. To me, this guy is telling us that if we continue our bombings, we could not only cause collateral damage up by the reactors, but we could destroy the support structures and drop the entire plate, killing everyone both on top and on bottom. Does anyone here still think these bombings are a good idea?

We also see a size comparison for the pillar. 50 meters is a lot, but it still seems a lot higher. Just based on eyeballing, it looks like more than 50 meters. Also, it really gives the feel that Midgar is small. It's nowhere near the size of real-life NYC or Los Angeles, and every perspective shot we see seems to confirm that.

As we move into Sector 7, Barret and the rest of AVALANCHE race ahead of us. Barret runs into a nearby building and then we hear gunfire. What the hell, Barret? However, it looks like he was just kicking people out. Still, he's being a little excessive, don't you think?

Some of the nearby bystanders comment on the recent explosion. A kid thinks that AVALANCHE is cool, while his mom seems to disagree. Many innocents were killed, and the bombing seems to have inflicted over a billion gil in property damage. We're also told that taking out the power would shut the city's power down, shutting down communications and electricity for the entire city. I'm so not sold on anything we've done thus far. All this reactor bombing has done is hurt a lot of people.

One thing that is really noticable about the reworked visuals is that the characters are re-rendered, but the backgrounds aren't (because they're static images). The net result is characters that look really crisp (even if they're low poly) on a grainy background.

We meet a new character. What's more, she seems to know Cloud. I can guess that she's the reason Cloud is working with AVALANCHE. They seem to be childhood friends. I'm not sure what to make of this. We get to name her. She's Tifa Lockheart.

We also get to see Barret's little daughter, Marlene. She's a bit shy and seems to not like Cloud very much. I can't really blame her. He's been sort of a jerk to everyone thus far.

Cloud gives Tifa the flower he bought from the flower girl, and she gets all girly on him. Like Cloud, she also mentions that flowers in Midgar are rare.

The other members of AVALANCHE talk about how Tifa is a good cook and is good at mixing drinks. Wedge claims that his girth is largely due to the quality of Tifa's cooking.

Barret calls AVALANCHE to a meeting, and the crew activates the secret elevator built into the pinball machine. However, Cloud stops to chat with Tifa a bit before he heads down.

She's happy he made it back, although Cloud says that it was no big deal. Being a jerk, Cloud says that he's taking off as soon as he gets paid. Honestly, I would too if I was being paid to conduct terrorist bombings, but that isn't why Cloud seems to want to leave.

Then Tifa asks him out of the blue if he's feeling OK. It's a bit of an odd question because there hasn't been any indication that he wouldn't be. Cloud responds as such, wondering why Tifa would ask. She says that he just seemed tired or something.

It's pretty obvious at this point that Tifa just wants him to stay, and probably also that she has a crush on him. Unfortunately, since Tifa is a party member (since we named her and all), I think that means Jessie's chances with Cloud are about zero. It's obvious that she's upset with him wanting to leave, but she doesn't know how to say it.

At the meeting, a news briefing informs us that Shinra is a person, since it's the name of the president. Is the government named after him? The Republic of Shinra? More likely, it seems like Shinra regime might have usurped a previous government. I'm not sure.

Either way, AVALANCHE has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Jessie is a bit upset that the explosion turned out the way it did. Perhaps the bomb was not supposed to blow out the top of the reactor? She apparently learned how to build the bomb online, which is probably a bad thing, because it means that the NSA could potentially ID her by her IP address (okay, I don't think that is very likely).

President Shinra also claims that he's going to mobilize SOLDIER to combat AVALANCHE. Uh-oh. Good thing that AVALANCHE has their own... oh, I guess he's leaving, huh.

Barret asks Cloud if anyone from SOLDIER was at the reactor bombing. Of course, Cloud is pretty nonchalant about his response.

Barret gets pissed of course, before admitting that Cloud is a powerhouse. However, he tells Cloud that he's working for AVALANCHE now, and not to get any funny ideas about going back to Shinra.

Cloud gets pissed off, and an argument breaks out. He tells Barret that there's no way he would go back to working for Shinra. Guess the severance package wasn't that good, then.

Cloud doesn't explain why he's mad at Shinra, but he also explains that he doesn't care about the Planet either. He even bothers to capitalize it, meaning that "the Planet" is their proper noun for the world they live on.

Tifa shows up but it doesn't help, and Cloud says he's going upstairs and he wants to talk about his money.

Everyone seems pretty miffed about the outburst. Wedge seems to be able to get a bit of a rise out of Cloud, claiming that Cloud talked to him, so he must really have some kind of emotions. Cloud tells him to blow off, which he uses to confirm his suspicions.

Upstairs, Tifa asks Cloud to stay with AVALANCHE, but he refuses. She begins spouting her pro-environmental message, but when that doesn't work she starts guilting him for walking out on a childhood friend.

I have to hand it to Tifa. She uses her feminine wiles well. She claims that he forgot a promise that the two of them made long ago.

A flashback begins where we see Cloud and Tifa in their hometown. Flashback Cloud asked Tifa to come see him at the well in their town, and tells her of his aspirations to join SOLDIER.

He wants to become strong, like another SOLDIER member named Sephiroth. This reveals a bit about SOLDIER. In the real world, special operations guys don't generally get individual recognition, but this Sephiroth is such a big deal that Tifa even calls him "The Great Sephiroth." Perhaps SOLDIERs are less like SEALs and more like Marines? Perhaps this Sephiroth is the FFVII universe equivalent of Chesty Puller?

Flashback Tifa asks Cloud to make her a promise that if he's ever famous, he'll come and help her if she's ever in a bind.

It's clear that even in the flashback Tifa had feelings for Cloud, and he seemed to have feelings for her too.

Jessie has no chance against this tactic, I think.

Back in the present, Cloud tells her that he's not a hero and he's not famous, so he can't keep his promise. Tifa tells him that even if he's not famous, he achieved his dream of joining SOLDIER, so he has to keep his promise to her.

Before Cloud can respond, Barret rides the lift up and tells Cloud, "A promise is a promise!" before giving Cloud his pay: a hefty 1500 gil. Not bad!

He didn't overhear the conversation, so his statement of "a promise is a promise" was coincidental. However, this seems to move Cloud. He says that that isn't enough, and if Barret has the next job lined up, he'll do it for 3000.

Barret is a bit miffed by this, but Tifa whispers to him that they're hurting for help and could really use Cloud's strength. Barret says that the money is for Marlene's education, but agrees they could use the help. After all, Shinra is mobilizing SOLDIER against them, and most likely they'll need Cloud to stand a fighting chance. He counter-offers 2000 gil, and takes the lift back down to the hideout. Tifa thanks Cloud for agreeing to stay on the team.

Hey wait a minute, I didn't agree to anything! I said 3000 gil!

The next morning, Barret tells us that the mission will be at the Sector 5 Mako Reactor (although Wedge actually told us at the meeting -- how about you display some OPSEC, Wedge). Also, Tifa will be coming along, which isn't really a surprise.

The game also gives us the tutorial on how to use Materia. As it turns out, Cloud's magic spells are because he is wielding two Materia; an Ice and a Lightning Materia. The tutorial is fairly simple; we just need to equip Materia into slots on our equipment to access its powers. The Assault Gun that was dropped from the scorpion boss has two linked materia slots, and so does Cloud's Buster Sword. Tifa's Leather Glove only has a single slot.

We shuffle materia around; Cloud gets the Restore materia, since he has the most MP. I give Barret the Lightning materia, since he has the second-most, and Tifa can carry the Ice materia. She's only level 6, while Cloud and Barret are level 8, so perhaps we'll switch things around if she happens to be more of a caster type.

We head to the weapon shop first and equip our team with new Iron Bangles that each have an additional materia slot. We also grab a Fire materia from the item vendor and an All materia upstairs. There's a bunch of tutorials up there for how to play in the ATB system, how elementals work, and all that stuff. It's really not hard. When your turn comes up, hit confirm a bunch of times.

The All materia is the most tricky new part of the materia system. While other materia can just be equipped and used, support materia like All have to be linked to another materia. For example, linking All and a magic materia will let me use my spells on all of the enemies (or allies, in the case of the Restore materia) a number of times each battle.

I'll put the All materia on Barret's gun, linking it with Lightning for use on all enemies. I could use it for Restore, but battles haven't really been that hard yet so I don't really need group healing. I should be fine healing out of combat.

Either way, we're off to go bomb another power plant. I cannot contain my excitement.

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