230: Get the Hell Out Of Dodge

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT
 

Get the Hell Out Of Dodge

Final Fantasy VII is a game that people keep playing years after its release. But while it's earned a place among the most beloved games of all time, its starting area is a bit of a slog. Brendan Main explains why, even while he looks forward to replaying FFVII, he dreads going back to Midgar.

Read Full Article

Wow. I never really thought of the whole Midgar portion of that game to be that depressing. Then again, it is but a shade of the past to me, as the last time I played the game was (wow) nearly a decade ago. I think I was far too young to start thinking like that.

*sigh* I so want to get a PSP for this, or at least some access to PSN.

If you wrote the entire game with this kind of language you could sell it, i know i would buy it.

I like the midgar bit (especially Wall Mart onwards). Nowhere near as bad as Baldurs gate II's first dungeon, which is dire.

I've had this game for a few years, I got a little bit past the Golden Saucer but stopped playing for a bit, and eventually I forgot what was even going on as far as the plot was concerned. I started again during the summer and got out of Midgar, but haven't had a chance to play it since then. I need to finish this game before it drives me insane, I feel guilty for ignoring it.

Amusingly, I feel exactly the opposite to the article author; Midgar is my favourite part of Final Fantasy VII. I like the oppressive atmosphere, the dystopian theme, and in fact, I've been trying to find another game with that sort of theme ever since. In terms of actual gameplay, the linearity is bothersome and the battle system tedious, but I much prefer the atmosphere inside Midgar, with that very apathy and slowness that you criticise, to the chase for Sephiroth that takes place during the rest of the game.

Snork Maiden:
I like the midgar bit (especially Wall Mart onwards). Nowhere near as bad as Baldurs gate II's first dungeon, which is dire.

Yup.

Anyway, nicely written, especially liked that reference

It gets to me, gets under my skin. I'm tasked with saving the planet, but I see nothing in it worth saving. Worst of all, I can't leave. Midgar is immense, enclosing me in all directions. Like Alex Proyas' Dark City, there is no end to it in sight

Wich also reminds me: Next Time "Pleasentville" is on TV, watch it like it's a horror movie. First half is scary as hell..

Wow... very well written. As many times as I re-play the game you have given it a different perspective for me which makes me appreciate it even that much more!

Come one Squeenix, remake it already!

RAKtheUndead:
Amusingly, I feel exactly the opposite to the article author; Midgar is my favourite part of Final Fantasy VII. I like the oppressive atmosphere, the dystopian theme, and in fact, I've been trying to find another game with that sort of theme ever since. In terms of actual gameplay, the linearity is bothersome and the battle system tedious, but I much prefer the atmosphere inside Midgar, with that very apathy and slowness that you criticise, to the chase for Sephiroth that takes place during the rest of the game.

I've spoken to many who agree with you. In terms of design, it's a beautifully realized space. Like it or lump it, there's something to it.

But I wouldn't say that I'm criticizing these aspects of Midgar: I certainly wouldn't do without them. I may not love it, but some part of me loves to hate it. I mean, if I hated to hate it, I hope I'm not such a masochist that I wouldn't just go play Ping Pong instead.

I can't believe how much I agre with this article/play-by-play of the opening of FFVII... I was practically bouncing when I finally heard the world theme kick in, and I knew I was finally FREE of that place.

Of course, there were other far more annoying segments to deal with later on, but I couldn't help but feel like the whole Midgar opening harkened back to my personal favorite game of the whole series: Final Fantasy.
(Nope, no II, III, ': Tactics', ': Crystal Chronicles', or any other roman numeral or subtitle. Plain old 8bit Final Fantasy from the NES.)

---
You slog along, running from packs of GrImps or the odd MadPony pair to be able to save the resurrection costs for the spells/gear you couldn't afford immediately. You have your first encounters with poisonous monsters who politely teach you that the further you are from a town, the more of EVERY kind of supply you'll need... especialy HEAL and CURE potions. Finally, you brave the first dungeon and after braving your first undead creatures, you face off against the first boss, Garland. (If you were smart, your levels have increased a few times across the whole party, and your casters aren't tapped out after only a couple rounds of casting... If not, then expect a tough fight, or a quick [RESET] to re-equip and have another go.)

You return to the King, triumphant and feeling proud of your first successful endeavor. He commands the building of a bridge, to allow you access to the rest of the lands, and you set off again to explore (after a quick resupply in town, of course). And, as you step upon the great span of of th soaring bridge, the title screen fades into view, the immortal FF Theme building to crescendo while you read the narrative. All of that 'work', just to discover that the story had yet to truly BEGIN. (And don't get me started about the first time you find out about [Select+B], and you can finally see just how LITTLE of the world you've traveled, and how much more you have yet to discover.)
---

Midgar was like that, for me... a very long introduction to what was to be FFVII (though I agree that it was starting to wear on me by the end; all that urban decay and societal rot). Then came the Materia multiplying and Chocobo breeding...

Oh, and I couldn't help but start humming Leonard Cohen at the bottom of page 1. Really, that's not fair, laying a pavlovian landmine like that, in the middle of a trip down memory lane.
::starts growling to himself:: 'Everybody knows that the dice are loaded...'

Never has a game roundhouse kicked the player in the nuts quite so often as FFVII. I gave up shortly after the 1st disc, never went back. Got much more play value and enjoyment out of FFVIII and FFX. Hell, even FFIV on GBA. And I played that bad boy stuck on a stinky coach travelling to southern Spain with 45 drunken idiots.

Midgar never bothered me that much to make me think of it as depressing :| The bit with Don Corneo always amused me too much to see it that way.

I agree wit the author's depiction - and it is very well put. But I doubt it fits the editorial "game done me wrong" theme. On the contrary, it is a rare treat when a video game's narrative is as deep, complex and dramatic (not melodramatic) as that of a novel or a good film.

The fact that a game can inspire such feelings (or feelings at all, for that matter) within the user is a testimony of a game done right, IMO.

If the article addressed the gameplay aspect of FFVII's Midgar scene - the linearity of it, which is a repeating hindrance in FF games opening sequences, it would fit more with the "game done me wrong" theme.

On the whole, I found the article beautiful, but then again, like the author, I'm also a returning fan of FFVII - played it 3-4 times from start-to-finish in the last decade :)

Robot55

RAKtheUndead:
Amusingly, I feel exactly the opposite to the article author; Midgar is my favourite part of Final Fantasy VII. I like the oppressive atmosphere, the dystopian theme, and in fact, I've been trying to find another game with that sort of theme ever since. In terms of actual gameplay, the linearity is bothersome and the battle system tedious, but I much prefer the atmosphere inside Midgar, with that very apathy and slowness that you criticise, to the chase for Sephiroth that takes place during the rest of the game.

I completely agree with this. If it were up to me, you'd get a chance to visit every single sector before leaving Midgar. And after you leave Midgar, you'd discover that the rest of the world is exactly like Midgar.
That would be an awesome game!

Every time I try to replay FF7, I love Midgar. Then I get to the Kalm flashback and just can't SOLDIER (har har) through.

Beautifully written, just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading that :) If you wrote a whole book in that style I'd totally get it from a library (found my paperback habit was costing me more than food and alcohol combined).

I'm a big fan of the series, you captured it well :)

Huh, Midgar is the heart of VII; Depressing, dark, ruined, sad and so magnificent. I didn't like all the trivial fetch quests that take place there, but as a setting it's one of the best seen in the series. Going back there after it has been totally abandoned was one of the redeeming features in Dirge of Cerberus.

I started playing FF7 in high school; it was my first exposure to the Final Fantasy series. I got really excited, due to the wonderfully atmospheric nature of Midgar...and was sorely disappointed when I found out that you leave after Disc 1, the rest of the game feels nothing like Midgar, and there's a half-hour cutscene which you can't skip or pause to save the game.

RAKtheUndead:
Amusingly, I feel exactly the opposite to the article author; Midgar is my favourite part of Final Fantasy VII. I like the oppressive atmosphere, the dystopian theme,

Ditto. :) I love playing through Midgar just to claw my way out of it. It's the intro levels, you aren't power leveled and well equiped to demolish everything. Things are challenges, and you have to use your wits to overcome a few. So nothing about Midgar (save maybe those stairs) really gets me down. :)

When I departed from Midgar the first time, I actually tried to find my way back IN before advancing in the rest of the game. :D

Well, that was emo. You can write man, but DAMN!

If you're this easily broken emotionally by video games, and a final fantasy game in particular, maybe it's time to look into a less intense activity. Like mowing the lawn, unless the grass dying gets you down.

To quote my friend Travis, upon leaving the city of Midgar in FF7:
"Holy crap, there's a world out here."

i really liked the whole game, the intro was just part of it. i couldn't say if the beginning was any less fun/annoying/sense making than rest of it. as whole, i liked the game until disc 3 made errors at the famous f*cking fountain.

Dectilon:

If you're this easily broken emotionally by video games, and a final fantasy game in particular, maybe it's time to look into a less intense activity. Like mowing the lawn, unless the grass dying gets you down.

Or that time I watched paint dry and then cried a single tear.

"Suddenly, there is a splash of crimson. The blue wall disappears, literally buried under a deluge of colour. Paint and primer coalesce, hues fading into a world of monochrome.

I see red."

I do enjoy the opening mostly. Yes it is a depressing take on an opressed city, but it does set up the whole theme of the game. That climb up the wire after the destruction of the slums is great in terms of story.

Oh, and screw the stairs! Pile in the front door, knock a few heads in and take the lift up. You are rewarded with a shop and the ability to watch an advert for the game's cars. :P

I remember the first time I ever played FFI. This was after having played FFVII through. I took my first steps and died to the first enemy in the game... Nasty game starting you without any equipment.

RAKtheUndead:
Amusingly, I feel exactly the opposite to the article author; Midgar is my favourite part of Final Fantasy VII. I like the oppressive atmosphere, the dystopian theme, and in fact, I've been trying to find another game with that sort of theme ever since.

If you don't mind an older game, try Syndicate, Syndicate Wars or Shadowrun (the SNES version, of course). BloodNet and Beneath a steel sky also come close in terms of theme.

But I couldn't name one that was as memorable and not... well, old.

Not going to say that things were "better back then", but now that you asked, I actually have to realize that some seem to have changed.

Wow. That was an amazing article.

I was never really a fan of the Midgar portion either mostly because it did feel kind of depressing. Now that I think about it, it always did feel like I was trapped inside an extremely small piece of a much larger, unexplored, fascinating world....I think I want to go play this game again haha.

And here I thought he was going tor ant about RPGs around the time of FF7....and how things are worse with anti septic designs and less and less customization and fun in JRPGs and RPGs in general.

Sure FF8 let you tweak stats and skills but the magic system and lack of a solid equipment system killed it dead and since FFX most games have been much like it only without the ability to expand beyond your main class(or classes are so dulutied it dose not matter much since equipment sets are oh so antiseptic and bland) and the lack of equipment modification.

Even DQ8 is stuck in the mud I don;t even want to think what hell awaits us in the series and for everything FF12 dose right it dose as much wrong you can't stack accessories skill progression is a joke equipment is boring and limit breaks are the same for everyone but acouple changes to acouple attacks. Dragon age at least got it right as far as party management goes and you have all the "gambits" out of the door these are things FF12 should have done, as well as had a freaking dual wiled skill...I am still so pissed about that one.....and well the game is boring as hell....

@ the author:

Look man, go outside and see some trees once in while, will you? And please, PLEASE don't play FFVII:Crisis Core, b/c you'll probably commit suicide or buy your thirtieth black turtleneck or something awful like that. FFVII:CC shows you <gasp> MORE of the wonderful city of Midgar in all of its rusty, dirty, dark glory. You interact with the inhabitants and get more of a feel for its subculture, its nuances, its Midgar-ness...

What the hell was the point of this article, anyway? I didn't need the opening chapter of FF7 recounted through someone's emo-glasses for me, and I certainly didn't need this guy pooh-poohing what was a beautiful, satisfying gaming experience for me and a lot of other players. That first pull-out-and-fly-in shot of the game gave me goosebumps, and still does. Will anyone forget their first look at the church with the ICBM shoved into it, the haunting beauty of the train yard, the helos flying past the Mako Cannon, or that shot of the commuter train barrelling around the enormous column? The Midgar part of the game went a long way towards making me care about the main and side characters, and set the tone for what turned out to be a deep, engrossing RPG setting. I _cared_ what happened to Midgar and the rest of the FF7 world. When the party finally left Midgar to save the world, it felt like leaving home, and like that other guy said, you were bowled over by the fact that there was a world _beyond_ it.

In contrast, I didn't care whether all of Ferelden was put to the torch by the Not-Orks because, quite frankly, everyone in it was an irredeemably callow moron. The dwarves were petty berks. The elves are flaccid nonces. The humans in the mud towns were dull and boring and the towns themselves weren't that better. The denizens of Midgar were scrappers, living out their tough lives in cobbled together houses made out of campers and TV's (FYI, anyone who hasn't played it, FFVII:CC used those old maps as a blueprint, so you can walk around in those areas and see them at EYE LEVEL). They kept a can-do attitude despite their poverty. They had bridges made from GIANT ROBOT ARMS. Midgar had character, Midgar had class, and dammit, Midgar was cool. Despite that, when it came tumbling down (thanks Meteor) and we were left with the afters, we still felt closure, despite feeling a pang that the engrossing industrial place was gone.

So please, english major, appreciate the city and its chapter for what it is: damn good writing and solid, beautiful design.

Or don't; everyone's entitled to their opinion.

Even emo-english majors.

PS: please, stay out of New York, Chicago, and every other major city everywhere, especially Tokyo (my GOD does that place stretch on forever) Just stick to the green areas and live a long emo-happy life. Urban is obviously bad for you.

Now I'm gonna go watch Blade Runner....

Zero=Interrupt:
whinny'snip

If you have to ask...its over your head...its about the depth of of the midgar section of FF7 and some nostalgia whoring and possible lament over they don;t make them like they use to.

Oh and crisis core sucks BTW no wonder its stuck on the crappy PSP!

ZippyDSMlee:

If you have to ask...its over your head...its about the depth of of the midgar section of FF7 and some nostalgia whoring and possible lament over they don;t make them like they use to.

A nostalgia whore! That's a bit better than an emo-english major. Looks like I'm moving up in the world!

Which is good. Papa needs that thirtieth black turtleneck like gangbusters.

I am THE person who disliked this game, so take anything I say about the game with a grain of salt. That being said Midgar's atmosphere wasn't the reason I disliked the game. In fact, it felt like they missed the spot on trying to create a dreary dystopian city. If they had hit the mark I think I would have enjoyed the game.

Well, and also if I cared any iota about the main character.

Anyway, it is interesting to read about. As a gamer that replays many games I am all too familiar with having to play through content that I do not enjoy to get to the stuff I love. Planescape: Torment comes to mind, it has a great story (rather unique) and great dialogue but the gameplay after all these years has not held up well at all. So I play through, but miserably.

So this article is something I think gamers can relate to. Our love/hate relationship with our iconic old games we choose to replay.

I know it's strange to call an article beautiful.. but that is the only word i can think to describe your work :)

i love this game so much, it never gets old. but midgar's supposed to be that depressing aint it so as you say once you're out you find a world worth saving.

Brendan Main:

ZippyDSMlee:

If you have to ask...its over your head...its about the depth of of the midgar section of FF7 and some nostalgia whoring and possible lament over they don;t make them like they use to.

A nostalgia whore! That's a bit better than an emo-english major. Looks like I'm moving up in the world!

Which is good. Papa needs that thirtieth black turtleneck like gangbusters.

Its a good well written read this is not major journalism, hell even major journalism these days is not so up tight...tho thats why we call it entertainment news these days...but still this is not that so its all good.

I am more a gameplay whore I can see the decline in gameplay more than I can see it in mode/story/setting ect. FF 1 was rich in fun equipment that made the game enjoyable, FF2-3 are a haze of my "emulated youth" FF4 was godly a much improved skill and class system with fun weapons and items, FF6 laged a bit in equipment but made up for it in accessories and skills used in battle even if the magic system made things feel generic. FF7 felt generic but was saved by equipment customization,accessories and limit breaks FF8 was a mess, FF9 was awesome despite a weakish plot and story the skill,class and equipment systems shined, FFX was both limited and generic the plot/story was wavering but no worse than FF8's romance world. And now with FF12 I have lost all faith in the FF franchise while the real time battles were great and gambits decent the game has no soul equipment is the blandest most antiseptic thing this side of a MMO the skill and class system is a joke and then some limit breaks are almost carbon copied and adjust a tad for each character. I kept dreaming of Balmier to use edgers tech/gadget stuff and while his airship stuff is cute it felt shallow and emtpy as dose the level design while it looks great and is a vast improvement over previous layouts there is something empty feeling about it. The story was bearable but but the game just dragged on and on it felt like a souless MMO.....

Uhg I am mega ranting...I apologize for the sloppy wall o text.. I have a love hate thing going with RPGs/Jrpgs and FF(and grammar/writing :P) in particular ><

I played this game when I was about 7. Wish I could appreciate the atmosphere back then.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here