‘Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion’ attempts to port a PSP game to the PlayStation 5

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core was a spin-off game released in 2007 as part of a cash grab targeted at Final Fantasy 7 fans seeking for something to play on the PlayStation Portable. It was a prequel-flavored slice of Midgar and the universe of Final Fantasy 7, complete with real-time fights, perplexing reels, and just enough goodwill and narrative background to make it all about effort.

The plot revolves around Zack, a very small (yet popular!) character from the original game. Without disclosing the whys and whens (since 2020’s FF7R is already upsetting the Final Fantasy 7 canon), Zack has strong ties to Cloud, the big evil Sephiroth, and other characters. Unfortunately, he dies before the main game begins and is only seen in flashbacks.

As Square Enix prepares for the second installment of its big-budget Remake project, Crisis Core Reunion allows fresh players to fill in the plot gaps on Zack. He appears in post-credit sequences in Remake, implying that he will play a larger role in the future.

Square Enix has improved the character models, backdrops, textures, and user interface to achieve some graphical consistency between Crisis Core and the recently released Remake. There is also voice acting throughout the game’s plot. However, the character animations have not received the same amount of care – it seems to be a remaster of Final Fantasy X. That’s not horrible, but it’s a touch underwhelming for a 2022 PS5 game. Several character models in Crisis Core Reunion seem nearly excellent enough to feature in Remake, even though they move like characters in a PS2 game.

There is some good news. On a home console, you now have two analog controllers to control the camera and movement at the same time, while the PSP just had one analog nub. It makes it much simpler to digest and concentrate on the fights. During my demo, the combat was still engaging, albeit a touch simplistic.

Also, don’t anticipate the responsive combat and spectacle of Remake. Crisis Core’s slot-machine warfare mechanism known as “Digital Mind Wave (DMW)” – no concept – remains. During combat, it will automatically cycle between numbers and images of characters from the game. If part of the numbers matches, you may get health, ability points, increased chances of a critical hit, and other benefits. If the reel images match, you may unleash a strong Limit Break attack that does a lot of damage, buffs your character, and does some other cool stuff. If the numbers match “777,” Zack will advance a level — which is still strange.

The fighting system, like the aesthetics, harkens back to a simpler era. You’ll battle using a variety of sword swings, spells, and tactics capped off with Limit Breaks. But it all seemed a bit too simple.

We keep comparing Crisis Core to Remake, with its smooth animation, slow-motion menus, and millions of dollars in development funding. That’s a bit harsh, but Crisis Core Reunion is available for Final Fantasy 7 fans who want to delve further into the game’s narrative – 2007 was a long time ago.