Legendary symbols of light and dark return in Square Enix’s hugely ambitious project.

Square Enix is taking its sweet time with the remake of Final Fantasy VII, and understandably. It’s the company’s biggest hit ever, one which literally changed the video game world by going all-in on cinematic drama and finally popularizing/legitimizing the Japanese-style role-playing game genre outside Japan.

But it’s now been almost four years since the full-fledged remake of Final Fantasy VII was announced, and gamers longing to return to Midgar and the rest of the iconic game’s world, plus those who’ve been putting off their first trip there until the remake is done, are getting antsy. So to help make the wait little more bearable, Square Enix has released a gorgeous-looking new trailer for the reimagined Final Fantasy VII.

Square Enix has already made it known that the Final Fantasy VII remake is going to stretch across multiple game releases, and most of the scenes shown in the trailer correspond to the earliest section of the original Final Fantasy VII narrative. Protagonist Cloud and his eco-terrorist buddies sneak into a Mako reactor, battle a mecha scorpion boss, and blow the place up before our spiky-haired hero gets separated from the group and has a fateful encounter with self-employed florist Aerith.

While the graphics are obviously a major step up in detail from the original game’s 1997-level polygon models and CG, it’s interesting to see that Square Enix doesn’t seem to be aiming for absolute photo-realism. There’s still a smooth and stylized look to the character designs, which might tap into the way long-time Final Fantasy VII fans envision the characters in their rose-tinted, nostalgia-treated memories.

▼ The Japanese-dialogue version of the trailer

The visual upgrade also gets some of the game’s minor characters a chance to shine. In the original version, less-important characters who didn’t appear in battles or money-shot cutscenes didn’t have the luxury of the higher-polygon versions that the central cast did, and were resigned to a blocky-looking fate. Now, though, even Avalanche members who aren’t of earth-moving significance get full facial features.

Speaking of battles, the remake jettisons the original’s turn-based combat for real-time fights, and the video shows both Cloud and his firearm-armed cohort Barret being controllable characters, with Cloud retaining the brush stroke-like after effects of his Cross Slash limit break.

The trailer also suggests there might be at least one big departure from the original game’s story structure, because in the aftermath of what seems to be the Midgar Mako reactor explosion…

Sephiroth shows up. While it’s unclear whether Final Fantasy VII’s stone-cold antagonist is here in physical form or as a manifestation of the intense mental distress Cloud is under, it’s an earlier appearance than he gets in the original version, where he isn’t seen until quite a bit further in the story. Since he’s arguably the most popular villain in video game history, though, it makes sense that for the remake, the developers want him to make his grand entrance earlier, rather than have him possibly be absent for the entire first game.

Sadly, while her name can be seen in the battle part list in the lower right corner of the screen, martial artist/cowboy hat enthusiast Tifa isn’t anywhere to be found in the trailer (nor is Cloud in a dress). Luckily, though, Square Enix is promising more Final Fantasy VII remake reveals in June.

Source: YouTube/PlayStation via Otakomu
Images: YouTube/PlayStation
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wonders if the in-game advice for fighting the mecha scorpion boss will be as confusing in the remake as it was in the original.