The second round of Final Fantasy VII landed on Saturday night under the worst possible circumstances. I was half-way between fine to drive and blackout drunk (it’s a broad range) with my girlfriend and her older brother at this apartment. They are both very familiar with the game and had me airplay my experience from the iPad onto his TV for their amusement. I was at the special place where I want to rant about comics, and gave them a lecture on the merits of the final fight scene in Cosmic Odyssey #4 first, showing off panels in beautiful 60 inch glory. Normally this would be a lot of fun, but not when you’re fighting laser shooting scorpions, fleeing exploding power plants, and learning everything important about this world at once.
Did I mention there was a laser shooting scorpion? That shit is the fucking worst.
I resume play in the power plant and keep trucking. Up until this point, I have only fought guards, cats with funky tails, and evil butterflies or maybe flying jellyfish. So when I run forward to the reactor and find a robotic scorpion bigger than every Pokemon I’ve ever caught. I am understandably horrified.
And these two fuckers are squealing with delight.
Throughout this fight, I learn a few important things that I’ll just list out.
- Cloud can use magic. I use the D-Pad again after my previous attempt resulted in Barrett shooting Cloud in his Akria Toriyama haircut, and select “Bolt”. Lightning is super effective. It’s doing loads more damage than the sword, and I can use it really fast. Maybe there’s a longer wait? I don’t really know or care. Lightning fucks shit up.
- Point break is not just a Keanu Reeves movie. Barrett and Cloud both reach their breaking point and unload on Scorponok during this fight. Barrett shoots a sun at it. His gatling gun generates a sun and shoots it at people when he gets angry enough. This is cooler than lightning.
- Potions are helpful. Scorponok has a special move he unloads when you attack while his tail is up. That shit hurts and leaves me with two guys who are in really bad shape. But drinking makes it all better.
- Strategy is important. The game told me to not attack when the tail was up, but I was jamming on A like it’s a game of Street Fighter (another thing I am very bad at). I start to pay attention after getting my shit rocked the first time, but a lot is happening so of course I attack again when the tail is up. But then it goes back down. My girlfriend says this is because I got lucky. I say it’s because Barrett can shoot you in the face with a sun. It’s best not to piss him off.
- Having two drunk friends shouting at you throughout a boss fight is not fun. It’s kind of the worst when you already feel hopelessly confused.
- That victory whistle is so very sweet when everyone is low on hit points and you’ve been fighting for five minutes.
So Scorponok goes down, we set the bomb, and a timer starts. What? Why would we only set it for ten minutes? Don’t we remember how long it took to get down here? (Hint: Way longer than it should have)
I now understand why randomly generated fights are annoying, because it was raining guards the whole way out. Even when I went to save, that stupid timer was still ticking down. About halfway through, I realize that all I want is a drink, but I am too nervous to set down the controls for a minute. I managed to not have my own characters shoot one another in spite of my nervousness though, so I’ll call it a win.
And let me tell you, I lit that power plant up. That fireball should have blackened Cloud’s finely groomed blonde locks.
This is also the point where I realize we just 9/11’d Shinra. Running away, guards keep appearing and I keep knocking them down. I get surrounded after having killed close to a dozen of these guys before Cloud finally jumps off of the bridge and rejoins the crew on board of a train. This is the first moment I’ve really liked Cloud, train antics are forever cool to me and seeing him flip through the door into a moving car is bad ass.
The action is not my favorite part of this session though. That goes to everything that comes next. Interacting with the team, overhearing conversations, and learning more about why we just 9/11’d a power plant is fascinating. It’s through all of this that I realize Final Fantasy VII is really focused on conservationism and class warfare. The metaphors are so big and operatic; I love them.
There is literally a city covering up the sun by flying above another city, and there’s no clear path between the two. A corporation is literally sucking the planet dry in order to turn a profit. This is all amazing. The politics of Final Fantasy VII are fascinating and I want to learn as much as possible about them, but that’s not my favorite part of this session. That comes when we get back to the secret hideout (which is hidden beneath a pinball machine elevator (which is stupidly cool (this game totally has my number at this moment))).
Meeting Tiffa is the best part of the night. She is thoughtful, empathetic, and patient. Way more patient than Cloud deserves. Her memories of their childhood are my favorite cut scene in the game so far. And yes, I’ve only been playing for about an hour, but I like it a lot. She reminds me of Sue Storm, actually. She’s at the heart of this band of rebels, keeping tempers calm and reminding people why they’re all there. Being around makes everyone a little bit more likable and defuses all this macho tension between Cloud and Barrett.
This also makes me like Cloud for the first time. He’s oblivious to Tiffa’s feelings for him, but is at least kind to her and makes some self-deprecating comments I really appreciate. All of the tough guy bluster starts to drop around her revealing that maybe this kid is okay. Also, my immediate love for Tiffa makes me like Cloud in turn. If he makes her happy, then I’m pro-Cloud. But I swear to god, if he hurts her… I know how to make Barrett shoot Cloud.
There’s other stuff happening here. I can sleep to recover, argue with children, and buy stuff. So I get everyone in my party new bracelets and give Barrett a bigger gun. It seems like the right thing to do.
So I killed Scorponok, blew up a power plant, learned what the core themes of the game are, found a reason to care about Cloud, discovered my home base, and really been introduced to the cast. That’s way too much stuff. I’m out.
Oh… and something about Materia. My girlfriend told me to pay attention to that, but I was drinking.