“Three long years have passed since the events of FINAL FANTASY VII… Meteor had left a tremendous scar on the planet. The once green land withered and the radiant light of mako vanished. The calamity known as Meteorfall would never be forgotten by anyone who lived through that fateful day. In the midst of this tragedy, people worked to help one another; and the world slowly began to rise from the ashes of decay and decimation. Just as things began to stabilize, an ominous event transpired in Junon. In the course of a single night, a large number of people disappeared without a trace. News of this mass disappearance carried swiftly across the globe and spawned rampant speculation. Around the same time, in the city of Edge, eerie rumors passed through the streets. Rumors of screams echoing from nearby Midgar, night after night…” This is the plot behind the new action, adventure game called Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII from Square Enix.
Not your typical Final Fantasy game, the Dirge of Cerberus is a third-person shooter with some adventure material included. You play the part of Vincent Valentine. Fans will recognize this elusive character from pass FF games. In Dirge of Cerberus, we finally learn Vincent’s story and how he came to be. You start off being introduced to a mysterious group of soldiers who seem to be trying to take over the new world by either gunning down or capturing unsuspecting civilians. As the story progresses, you have frequent flashbacks that slowly reveal your past and cutscenes reveal a mysterious organization that only you can stop, of course. Unlike other FF games, DoC is very linear in fashion and may put off some past fans, but then again, you may enjoy the new change of pace as I did.
As you play the game, you take on different missions, but they all involve killing off the enemy, as all third-person shooters do. Depending on your level of gaming, you may or may not enjoy this, but luckily the DoC storyline is a good one and should keep you interested throughout the game. Some included side missions also help to keep the game interesting. There is some basic hand-to-hand fighting available, but the most fun comes from using weapons and magic. The weapons system is pretty complex, although the selection of weapons is limited. I had the most fun with the Cerberus pistol. As you collect gil throughout the game, you can use it to upgrade your weapons. In the case of Cerberus, you can add more powerful barrels and scopes (for sniping), as well as materia (magic) accessories. Adding materia allows you to shoot different types of magic and can provide higher levels of defense as well. Weapon additions also create changes in weight, power, and range, which adds some more realism. As Vincent, you also have the ability to collect and use limit breaks. This magical weapon allows Vincent to transform into the Galian Beast, a very powerful magical creature. During an LB, Vincent’s HP is fully replenished and his melee attack power and defense rating are increased. He can also perform magic attacks, but cannot use weapons. Limit breaks only last a short time, but can be very useful when multiple enemies or bosses are around.
As expected, the graphics are excellent, especially in the fully-rendered cutscenes. There’s some blood and gore, but only enough for a Teen rating. Environment detail could have been better, but the game world still looks good. The character graphics are what really shine and make the regular cutscenes stand out nicely. The voice acting for the characters was done quite well and fit the game and storyline nicely. The music soundtrack sounds good as well from ambient to fully orchestrated. The sound effects are a bit lacking in power though. The weapons don’t sound quite as powerful as they should and magic attacks could sound more distinct.
As a fan of the Final Fantasy games, I enjoyed Dirge of Cerberus. Other fans are likely to enjoy it as well. If you’re not a fan, the game may seem a bit too much like most other third-person shooters and not provide enough of a challenge. Fans will enjoy the storyline though and after you finish the game you are treated to a host of unlocked missions that are not part of the storyline, but provide plenty of additional fun and value to the game. I say Dirge of Cerberus is worth adding to your Square Enix game collection.