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Guardian of the Description Thread
This last Christmas was very generous to me. With it, I was gifted three games. I don't know if I have the wherewithal to LP all three, but, nonetheless, I have the hankering for another LP. Though, part of that hankering is from reading through Xenogears whenever the topic arises in the Discord channel. Or, needing to get certain image(s) that are used within that LP for varying reasons. So, thanks a lot, Xenogears, and the Santas that got me these game!

So! This time, we're delving into...

Image provided by Wikipedia

...Final Fantasy 7 Remake. My copy includes the Intergrade content. I reserve the right to skip over it entirely, and focus on the core experience.

So, I kinda feel this game needs no introduction. However, let's have one anyway, and start with a the obvious. The game's original release was on PlayStation somewhere in the year 1997. So, like, about 25 years ago.

And just writing that sentence makes me feel old. ;_;

Like, I can barely recall seeing images from the game in a page from a magazine (might have been a guidebook?) during a lunch period of my last year at high school. I might not have been personally invested in the game at the time, it would later.

Let's jump ahead into the summer of '98. Maybe '99. My brother came home from college, and introduced me to the wonders of emulation. This was my first real exposure to the SNES FFs. I might have played a friend's copy of FF1 on the NES back in the day, but, I'll be damned if I got very far into it.

Anyway, I played the SNES FFs. A lot. Eventually, I put together a set of UGE modules that could apply to saved states created with ZSNES. And a bunch of other games that you might have heard of. Such as Earthboud, Breath of Fire 1 and 2, Chrono Trigger, Lufia 1 and 2, Super Metriod, Treasure of the Rudra. I still have them archived, but, I haven't used them in years.

It might have been after this that we got ourselves hooked up with a PC demo of FF7. The content of which was contained to arena battles, but, it kinda made us get the PC port of FF7. We had a lot of issues getting past the plethora of FMVs that occur at the end of Disk 1. From what stories I've heard about the PC port, we were not alone in this misfortune. We gave up on FF7 until, basically, we started messing with PS1 emulation. I might have mentioned this in my Xenogears LP, but, we started with a program called Bleem!, then got a physical PS2 to play on, but eventually got into ePSXe.

A PS3 tech demo for what Final Fantasy 7 could look like with said hardware was made in... hell, it was 2005? I'm not 100% sure if the intent for such a showcase was to make a full game. However, to say that people were impressed by what Square-Enix showed, and wanted to actually see it happen would be an understatement. Now, after some 17 years, they have made good on the promise.

Sort of.

The game is to be released in chapters, and this game (currently?) represents the first of such. Out of how many, I'm not sure, and I worry about how many chapters this game will have, when it all comes down to it. To say nothing about the price-points for chapters as they release.

If you can forgive another anecdote, I recall when Starcraft 2's Human campaign was released. At the time, I figured I could wait until all three campaigns were released until jumping ship, and getting a package deal. However, the game completely fell off my radar, and never got back on, even after the Protoss and Zerg campaigns were made available.

Getting back on track, this is not the space to speculate about how they will handle what's isn't resolved by the end of this chapter. This is about exploring what is here, and, hopefully, have an entertaining time, and sharing it with you.

As an aside, what screencaps I may make will be scaled down from full-screen resolution.

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 - The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1
Chapter 2 - Fateful Encounters
Chapter 3 - Home Sweet Slum
Chapter 4 - Mad Dash
Chapter 5 - Dogged Pursuit
Chapter 6 - Light the Way
Chapter 7 - A Trap is Sprung
Chapter 8 - Budding Bodyguard
Chapter 9 - The Town That Never Sleeps
Chapter 10 - Rough Waters
Chapter 11 - Haunted
Chapter 12 - Fight for Survival
The game is to be released in chapters, and this game (currently?) represents the first of such. Out of how many, I'm not sure, and I worry about how many chapters this game will have, when it all comes down to it. To say nothing about the price-points for chapters as they release.

I wonder how many chapters will this LP have, but I'm on board for now.
Guardian of the Description Thread
--The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1--

An eagle soars the skies, towards a city covered in industrial smog. The camera then follows a group of children on bicycles as they ride through the streets, ending up in a playground. A noise directs their attention to one of the power reactors along the outer edge of the city, and the camera goes black, as the green particles rise from where the building stood.

This serves as a cut point to elsewhere in the city, where we see a woman kneeling before an exposed power relay wire along a building's side, the green particles floating upwards, only to dissipate into the aether. After a while, she stands, looks to one side, then runs toward the streets, running into one of the pedestrians. This spills a few of her flowers from her basket, and she goes down to pick them up to return them to their place. One is stepped on nonchalantly, and all she can do is heave a sigh, and look upwards. Which gives the camera it's cue to pan out and up a mighty tower, the central part of this city, and, eventually, the title drops with overly pretentious orchestration.

As the music plays, the scene cuts every so often towards an incoming train breaking as it makes a stop at the entrance to one of the reactors. Some guards split up to check the train, and one of them hears a noise. Alerted, the guard raises his weapon, and checks the area where he heard the noise from, only to be ambushed himself. From atop the train lands a mercenary, and he makes short work of a small group of incoming guards before the ambush party reconvene for a short while before continuing with the mission.

Their mission? Destroy Reactor #1.

After a few more inconsequential encounters, the game officially introduces the mercenary, Cloud Strife. As the crew rides an elevator, the leader of this operation, Barret Wallace, decides to pass the time by making a speech about the nature of mako..

...and the unspoken (but very heavily implied) consequences of using mako. While Barret may have concerns that reach into the future, Cloud is more concerned about the now: getting this job done, and earning the pay that was promised to him. Thus. the speech falls on deaf ears. The game shortly introduces flying/mounted enemies, giving the game an opportunity/excuse for Barret to join the battle party.

So now that I'm on this subject, let me pause the narrative to talk a bit about that. While the original FF7 was based on the classic a turn-based formula that used ATB bars to determine when a character can input commands, this game is more action-oriented. Like FF15, the player directly controls one character. Unlike FF15, the player can swap who the controlled character is on the fly with a press of left or right on the D-pad. The ATB bar still technically exists, but, is used more as a resource expended when using abilities, items, or spells. Characters can have up to two full ATB gauges for the purposes of setting up potential combos, or maybe just breaking out a bunch of abilities at once on a boss.

Of note is that spells still require MP to use as an additional requirement, on top of having a full ATB bar. The game hasn't introduced me to Limit Breaks yet, but, I've a feeling that they also need a full ATB gauge as well as a full Limit gauge to be used.

Back to the game proper, Barret and Cloud continue forward and down until they reach the reactor core. Barret orders Cloud to set the explosive. He's hit with a bit of a headache, but, follows through, the game prompting the player to set the timer for either 20 or 30 minutes. I think in the original, it's always 30 minutes. Maybe 20. You'll have to forgive me on my lapse of memory on this point. Regardless, I'll set it to 20.

A boss fight interrupts the process. This was an arguably intense battle. This boss was a lot simpler to defeat in the original game. Here, it can erect a shield that reduces/ignores damage, as well as using an EMP blast, while also gaining the ability to auto-repair later later on in the fight. Of course, it also uses it's tail laser from time to time. I probably used more Potions that I should have in the process of fighting that thing, as well as using the Cure materia that's on Barret. I'm not sure how I feel about this. If this was a non-boss fight, I would absolutely tone down the difficulty to "Story". That it was a boss fight that gave me some trouble makes me think I might still be okay. However, I reserve the right to tone down the difficulty later, as I did in The Outer Worlds.

For the moment, Cloud and Barret come out on top, but, well, you know, there's still that timed bomb that was set to 20 minutes, and it's active now! Poor Jessie's leg is hit not once, but twice during the escape. Even so, the group makes it out with but seconds to spare from an explosion...

...that was, perhaps, a bit more powerful than the group set out to do. Perhaps they can discuss that, and their next move, in a more appropriate location. In that regard, a path to Sector 8 is ahead, and being directed down that path triggers the next section/chapter in the game. Which makes a nice place to stop for now.

I'm not sure if I can keep the pace of one chapter/section per post. I suppose it would highly depend on how much free-roaming there is. For now, we're still very much in plot lockdown, but, we'll see how long that lasts.
I veto your right to tone down the difficulty :)

Also, I've never played the game and I feel that with this one I might get lost later on because of how story heavy FF7 is.
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 2: Fateful Encounters--

Last time, a group of saboteurs, calling themselves Avalanche, had broken into Reactor #1, and blew it up. Though, unbeknownst to Avalanche, they had help from the mega-corporation, Shinra, who owns the reactors, and, one could argue, the city of Midgar, itself. Now, you might question why the owners of the reactors would want to cause their property damage on property they own. Perhaps we'll get to that later, but, for now, the game's focus is on the members of Avalanche, as they move towards Sector 8.

As the group emerges from an an alley, an announcement blares forward, informing the citizenry of the explosion at Reactor #1, and that both Sector 1 and Sector 8 are considered hazard zones due to how powerful the explosion was, and giving evacuation orders for people living in those sectors. Again, the group is surprised at the damage assessment, but, both Cloud and Barret are at peace with the results. Cloud comes off as an uncaring, but, Barret's angle is that what they are doing would ultimately result in people dying. While it would be better to minimize the death they do create, it is sometimes unavoidable when mounting a rebellion.

In any event, the group is to split up, and rendezvous in a train stationed in Sector 8, in the fright car. The player is given no context as to when this train is supposed to leave, but, this is not an indication of free-roaming, per say. However, the game Cloud receive a Healing materia, and this prompts the game to unlock the ability to equip/remove materia in the menu. This is a pretty straight-forward mechanic in this game, as materia acts similar to equipment. It grants whatever spells imbued on the materia, as well as various penalties and bonuses. As a brief example, magic materia tends to increase Max MP at the cost of Max HP.

That out of the way, Cloud maneuvers through the streets. He climbs a pile of rubble, only for it to fall apart from underneath him. While that doesn't really hinder his progress, and just keeps moving, a piece of an overpass falling from above does. This time, he stops in his tracks, and looks around to reassess the situation. Something feels a little off about this. He sees buildings on fire, and staring at them trigger a memory. A memory of a burning town, and the person that caused it.

This is an image the player sees a bit later in the original game. However, as one can see, it's being thrown at the player right now. Unlike the original FF7, there's no context behind this image, save for Cloud's reaction to it. Which is, at first, somewhat dismissive. Then, surprise, as the guy from the vision stands before him mere inches away. Cloud jumps back, reaching behind him for his sword, only for more rubble to fall down. Cloud briefly turns his attention to the sound, giving the figure an opportunity to casually walk away into the din of destruction before Cloud.

There's a bunch of questions in Cloud's head, but the first and foremost is what this guy is even doing here. Now, maybe the smart thing to do would be to make a mental note of this event, go to meet with the others at the train, and discuss it either on the way to base, or maybe after reaching base. However, Cloud gets it into his head that he should follow this figure.

It's pretty slow going. Sluggish, event. Part of that is from Cloud's vision being hampered by the smoke, but, it's being hampered by something else on top of that. Cloud does, eventually, meet with the figure, and they have a bit of a conversation.

Well, it's more a monologue on the figure's part, if one must be precise. After which, Cloud takes a mighty swing downward that would squarely on the head of the figure. However, instead of striking the figure, his sword makes a loud clang as it hits the street. The camera pans out, and the surroundings back to normal. No fire, no smoke, nothing. The only trace of what Cloud just experienced is the voice in Cloud's head that says, "Good. Hold on to that hatred." Which, if I must be honest, sounds a lot like what a Sith lord from Star Wars might say to a potential pupil.

Cloud's emotional state slowly returns to normal. He then reasons that those visions must have been a product of mako exposure. Or something. Let's move on.

Back on the open streets, Cloud moves forward, eventually coming across a flower peddler that seems to be brushing off something off. Suddenly, time stops as the figure appears again to taunt Cloud, and he gets another headache. After recovering, things are normal again, and he finds himself being offered a flower... exchange for helping the peddler. Helping her do what might be in question, but, Cloud isn't going to turn down a gift. The two converse more, and the girl goes back into her dance of evasion. Confused, Cloud can only observe. Then, she takes his hand, which opens his eyes to...

...whatever these things are. The disturbance gets the attention of a group of guards, who notice more Cloud's drawn blade than the ghosts. The flower girl decides this is the best time to ditch. The ghosts follower her.

Cloud reaches out to stop her, but then, as she runs, his attention is turned back to stare down the guards. Even if he wanted to follow the girl, these guys aren't just going to let him go. So, he decides to make quick work of them. Which, naturally, alerts more guards to his presence. Cloud moves through Sector 8, cutting a path through the enemies as they try to block him. At one point during the chase, a truck pulls up both in front and from behind, with guards deploying from them as to surround and corner him.

At least, this was the idea, until Cloud makes a leap...

...onto a speeding train. Luckily, this is the train he was supposed to meet up with the others, as the next scene is in the freight car, with Barret, and the members of Avalanche making small talk until they hear a noise from above. They ready their weapons, then open the side door, and in Cloud comes. Now together, Barret orders the group to move out of the freight car, and up the train.

The train is a little cramped, but, the group manage. As he moves up, Barret overhears some Shinra office workers talking about the explosion, and decides to give them his five cents. The workers are clearly intimidated by the man, and eventually leave for another car, but, not before spouting their own lines about Shinra preserving peace and prosperity.

Jessie finds her way to this car, and gives Cloud an overview of the city of Midgar. Barret takes this opportunity to make another speech...

...where Cloud's answer is for people to move out of Midgar. Barret observes that a number of people can't do that for varying reasons. Which has even Cloud mutter about how people's lives are sometimes on rails, and have only one option. Which is somewhat ironic, as this game has been on rails with there being only one option. Anyway, the train arrives at the Sector 7 station without further incident, and Barret gives the order to return to base for rest an recuperation for the next mission. As for Cloud, he'll settle his bill at the Seventh Heaven bar. However, that's for the next chapter.
I like trains and stocks. But this feels very on rails with all of the events happening one right after the other.
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 3: Home Sweet Slum--

The original FF7 was very much on-rails for a good while, now that I think about it. Sure, players get access to the overworld map after leaving Midgar, and gain access to party-switching after Kalm, with the Chocobo Ranch not terribly far off. However, there's not a whole lot of places players can actually go with a chocobo at that point in the game. It isn't until players get the buggy that the player has free and open access from as far west as Neibelhiem (I think? It's been a while.) to as far east as Fort Condor.

Anyway, last time, the members of Avalanche just arrived at Sector 7, and moving to their base for a bit of R&R. All the while, Cloud is only looking to get paid at this point, and being directed to Seventh Heaven for that. Now, the game has name-dropped the proprietress of the Seventh Heaven a few times now. I glazed over them because they've been mostly incidental mentions, even if one such mention triggered a flashback. Now, the Seventh Heaven proprietress, Tifa Lockhart...

...gets some camera time. Marline, the girl sitting next to Tifa, rises to meet Barret, who lifts her on his shoulder, and carries her into the bar. Tifa notices the flower, and Cloud hands it over. His thoughtfulness lasts but a moment, though, as he desires to get right to business. Talking to Barret will have him direct Cloud to Tifa, who is busy at the moment (she sure doesn't look it!), which directs us to Marline.

This triggers yet another cut-scene, and within it is Cloud asking for his pay. Tifa nods, moves out from behind the bar next to Cloud, then mutters to him that they should discuss this outside. Well. That doesn't sound promising at all!

While the subject of payment is tossed aside for the moment, Tifa mentions that there's an empty apartment nearby that Cloud could move into. The landlady's a friend of Avalanche's cause, and Tifa is of the belief Cloud could stay rent-free. Which Cloud appreciates, and accepts, but, one gets the impression he does not consider that part of his payment.

When the two enter the room, with Tifa mentioning getting other things if he needs them, Cloud broaches the subject of his payment again. Tifa sighs, and only has 500 gil to spare of the 2000 that is owed Cloud. She mentions that she'll be selling air filters tomorrow, along with Barret, and that could cover the balance. Cloud agrees to the arrangement.

That night, Cloud hears a noise, and springs out of bed. That's more than a little jittery, there, Cloud, but, he did see a group of ghosts after leaving Sector 7 station. It turns out the noise wasn't ghosts, but, his next-door neighbor, who...

...I presume to be the "this guy are sick" person from the original game. Either way, let me rewind just a little bit, and mention that Cloud saw yet another vision, and had his sword drawn, ready to strike. Tifa stopped him before he took the swing, and the pitiful figure of a robed man lay on the floor, as per the above screencap. The guy's name is Marco, and has a "49" tattooed on his arm. Tifa, as it turns out, checks in on the poor guy from time-to-time, since he's clearly not quite with it, and asks Cloud to do the same.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully. The new morning is bright, and Cloud tries to check in with his neighbors, with no avail. He just shrugs it off when I tried to interact with the doors. Downstairs, he meets the landlady, and they have a short conversation before Cloud moves on to Seventh Heaven.

Cloud might be interested in getting his pay, but, he seems to vastly prefer to allow Tifa to do her rounds, and stay out of it. However, Tifa insists he go with her, as she makes more money with the whole selling air filter gig than running Seventh Heaven. Besides, it is not money that Cloud is after?

That done, and with Barret still out doing his own rounds for a while yet, Cloud is at a loss of what to do in the meantime. Tifa has a suggestion. Cloud's new in town, and it would not hurt if he had more connections in the local scene. For starters, she further suggests that Cloud looks into the neighborhood watch. The people he meets there are familiar faces...

...with Tifa mentioning to the pair that Cloud's name might have a greater reach if he works with the watch. Wedge seems to think this is a great idea, as does Biggs. Biggs then suggests Cloud could modify his sword. Cloud doesn't think that's necessary, but, the event unlocks the ability to do so regardless.

Outside of manipulating what materia was where, modifying equipment didn't really exist in the original FF7. So, let's take a brief moment to look at how that works.

So, this screen might remind you a bit of the Sphere Grid of FF10, or the Crystarium Grid of FF13. If you've played neither of these games, then, let me attempt a bit of a lowdown. The grid contains nodes with various bonuses. The screencap above features a node on Cloud's Buster Sword that would grant the weapon an additional +5 attack power when purchased. Skill points are used to purchase/unlock these abilities, and the number of skill points available for each weapon increases as a character's experience level grows.

Anyway, while Biggs and Wedge will spread Cloud's name on foot, Tifa joins with Cloud to the scrapyard, where monsters tend to roam. The stated reason for her joining is that Cloud doesn't know they way to the scrapyard, and she can guide him there. However, having another set of eyes on Cloud's considerable skills as a warrior certainly can't hurt his reputation either. I have zero qualms in admitting that Tifa is among my favorite FF heroines, and decide to set her as the default controlled character in combat.

The two make quick work of the enemies in the scrapyard. On their return, Biggs and Wedge have done a few rounds of their whispering campaign as well. The weapon's dealer downstairs was part of that campaign, and is willing to give Cloud one of his swords as to advertise his business, as well as open his inventory of armor and accessories. That done, Tifa suggest they now give a visit to Wymer, the guy in charge of the neighborhood watch. From what Tifa is saying, though, he kinda sounds like a job board. Regardless of what the game has the characters say, this event, incidentally, opens up odd jobs around town, and gives us the opportunity for a bit of free-roaming.

The initial array of quests before me involves scanning enemies with an Access materia, killing rats or maybe just the queen rat, defeating drakes, and finding cats. Of these, I finish the cat-quest first, as that's competed by roaming the town. Returning the the scrapyard, it seems the monsters respawned. How often they do so might still be in question, but, I hang around a bit longer than merely scanning enemies for the quest that asks me for enemy info.

Next up is the rat-killing quest, then finishing up with the drakes. After which, two more quests pop up, which I then complete. I'm definitely glossing over details here, but, I will note that Tifa mentioned Barret should be back at Seventh Heaven after completing the first of these quests.

After all the quests are done, Tifa suggests a bit of R&R at the apartment. Within this event, Tifa attempts to get Cloud talking about what happened to him since last they saw each other. It's not specified exactly how long that's been, but, Cloud does his best to relay his sense of disillusionment in working for Shinra as a SOLDIER. However, after this event clears, side-questing is done. At least for the moment. So, it's high time to get back to the main narrative.

It might not have been so long for those reading, but, for a quick refresher for my own purposes, Cloud hasn't been fully paid yet. Of the 2000 gil he was promised, Tifa paid 500 in on-hand cash, then paid him an additional 600 from her rounds of selling air filters. That's only 1100 gil. So, it would fall to Barret to account for the remaining balance of 900. At 200 gil a client for the air filtering gig, that translates to five additional customers. Which doesn't seem that hard when your customer base lives in the slums of an industrial city like Midgar. Which likely translates to all kinds of smog and filth being sent their way from Shinra's myriad factories, facilities, and what-not, on the upper plate.

However, before we even get to that, Cloud and Tifa observe a bit of a disturbance near the bar. Some guards are arresting a guy on suspicion of stealing some blasting agent. This apparently isn't the first time this guy has made trouble for Shinra, and Tifa thinks it best to save his butt, with Cloud tags along.

As an aside this chracter was given a name, in both this game, and in the original FF7. However, in the original, he was an incidental/recurring NPC that had little-to-no effect on the story. For now, I'll leave him anonymous, though, he'll probably turn up again at some point.

After taking care of the guards, the pair's attention moves to the guy they captured. He's a pair of loose lips, and those sink ships. Cloud is prepared to execute him now, and save Avalanche from future trouble he might make. Tifa stops him, and they decide to let him go, asking him to leave town. He runs off, saying they'll never see him again. Again, we'll see how true that is.

Tifa was a bit unnerved by Cloud's intended action, but, after a while, the two regroup at Seventh Heaven. Cloud's pay apparently has to wait a little longer, as the members of Avalanche move to their base to discuss their next move. Cloud isn't invited, and the player is stuck playing the waiting game for a while. I have Cloud take a few turns at darts before returning to the counter. After a while, Tifa returns, and takes a drink. Cloud attempts to lend an ear to her problems, and give some advise, but they are interrupted by the others members returning.

Barret wants to celebrate, asking for Tifa to bring out the good stuff, then hands over 1090 gil for Cloud's services, informing him the group doesn't need him for the next mission. Which is fine by Cloud. With the work he did with Tifa, he might be able to scrounge up some additional odd jobs in Sector 7. As Cloud exits the bar, he notices a gathering of hoodlums nearby. They ask him if they know where a man with a machine-gun arm might be located. Cloud might not be entirely loyal to the Avalanche cause, but isn't about to just spout that information at the drop of a hat either. Still, he agrees to follow the group to an alley where they ask him again of the location of said man. Cloud doesn't talk, and they guys draw knives on him in an attempt at intimidation. Except these guys aren't given names, even by the game designers, so, one can guess how well they stand up to a guy like Cloud.

After trouncing the ruffians, Cloud notes that, while they mentioned a boss, that person might not necessarily be within the ranks of Shinra. Oh well. Not Cloud's problem. With little else to do, Cloud decides to go back to his apartment to rest up a bit. However, Jessie was waiting for him, and has a job for him. This job involves going topside, and was supposed to be a secret to the others. Except Biggs and Wedge were able to read Jessie's intent halfway. They could tell she wanted to go topside, but, their stated reasons for her doing so aren't quite the reasons Jessie actually has. She's not going to debate the point, though, and let's them come too.

This conversion marks the end of the chapter, but, there's no opportunity to hard-save before launching into the next part of the mission. What that entails, and how Cloud and company will come out of it, stay tuned to the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 4: Mad Dash--

First off, happy new year! It might be a little early in this LP, but, I want to set aside some time here to thank those that have been following my LPs since the beginning. If this is your first one, either because of the game, or because it's in the recent post history section of the site, then I hope you continue to follow along.

So, last time, Biggs, Wedge, Jessie, and Cloud were going to go topside. The idea is that Jessie wants to use a less potent blasting agent for the mission tomorrow, and her usual supplier isn't going to make it in time. However, raiding a Shinra warehouse for the stuff would suffice. The last train for the day has already left, so Biggs and Wedge obtain some motorcycles, and I kinda have to wonder if they stole them. Which brings us to why the player is locked out of the menu screen.

Yep! It's the bike race mini-game! This works pretty much like the original, with maybe a few additions. I took the above screencap in "photo mode", which disables the GUI, but, there's a charge meter at the bottom of the screen, and when it fills up, you can press Triangle/Y to use a special move. It can either be a long range attack, shooting a beam of light from Cloud's sword. Which, gee, Cloud, why weren't you using that before? The other option has Cloud performing a whirlwind attack. After performing the move, the gauge empties, and refills over time.

For full disclosure, I made it as far as getting into a boss last time, but was defeated by said boss before calling it quits. This time around, while I still took some damage, I did clear the gauntlet, and beat the boss. At least, for now. He'll probably be back.

Jessie visits her parent's house. At first, I thought this was because she's keeping up appearances, since Biggs and Wedge were of the opinion she wanted to visit them. However, she asked Cloud to temporarily borrow steal her father's Shinra ID, and had asked him to stay outside as a cover for this task. Her father is out cold, hooked up to machines to observe his health, and the plan goes off without a hitch.

That done, Jessie's plan is to infiltrate the warehouse while the other three create a diversion for the Shinra military in the area, and get them away from their posts. As the three get into position to see Jessie's signal flare, they notice a guard post is already empty. Or, rather, the gaurd has been knocked unconscious. They don't think it was Jessie, and decide to scout around a bit to investigate the matter.

The game gives the player access to a vending machine and a training ground, which kinda suggests to me that things might take longer than the characters might think. Which isn't too good, because these people are on the clock. Tomorrow marks an attack on another reactor, yet, Jessie hasn't even build the explosive that they will use for said mission. I won't pretend to know how long it might take her to built it, but, certainly, she's cutting things a little close here. However, games tend to have their own sense of time, so, maybe we shouldn't worry too much about whither or not Jessie will have the explosive made in time. For now, the focus should be on the investigation.

Or, at least that's what I thought was going to happen, but, Jessie's signal flare fired off. Change of plans. Time to make some ruckus. Which includes our first instance of...

...using a Summon materia. A brief aside on this, summon materia can only be used in certain situations, which I read to mean boss fights, and needs to be charged before being used. Of course, it also requires a full ATB bar to use, like most other abilities, but, once the summon gets thrown down, it acts as another NPC in the fight, and can be given commands through the battle menu.

Anyway, with the mechs on fire, more gaurds come, altered to the situation, brining even more mechs with them. Just when things were looking a dicy, the boss from the race makes another appernace, tearing up his own lines of defense in the process. He demands a duel with Cloud. With everyone giving them space to do so, they go at it for a number of bouts. The game might have given this guy a name, but, you might have noticed that I haven't done so yet. Even if I did give you his name, there would be no question as to who would come out on top of this duel.

After the boss leaves, the gaurds and mechs move back to surrounding the party, and it's right back to dire straights for Cloud and company. As they attempt to fend themselves off, Wedge gets captured by one of the mechs, but, a troop of friendly soldiers appear on the scene. They resue Wedge, and cover the escape of Biggs and Wedge.

On their way to the rendevous with Jessie, Biggs explains that the troop that came to cover their escape are also members of Avalanche, and have been active for much longer. Since he's heard rumors of them offering all of the materia in Midgar to Wutai, my guess is that they've been active since around the time of the war between Wutai and Shinra. This is the first time the event was even mentioned in this game, and I cannot recall if there were too many mentions of it in the original FF7. Or, if it does get mentions, it's just a referral to "the war", and all the characters in the game just automatically knows what the speaker is talking about.

Either way, Wedge eventually re-joins the others, and the group sneaks their way past a barricade. However, they can't exactly get back to the ground floor the way they came. Jessie's plan is to get some parachutes, and use them to skydive down to the slum level. With Biggs and Jessies sharing one 'chute, and Cloud sharing his with Wedge, the pairs land in two different locations. Cloud sees Wedge home, then goes back to his apartment to call it a day.

The next morning, something... up. Well, maybe that wasn't the best screencap, but, the whole sector is swarming with ghosts. After defeating a group of them, Tifa and Cloud move to Seventh Heaven, where Barret and the others are holding their ground. The ghost do their best to hinder their movements, and make a difficult fight for Tifa and Cloud, but, they eventually escape, leaving everyone to wonder what the heck they were.

Jessie was injured during the fight, and calling off the operation isn't going to cut it, since Biggs was sent in ahead. So, Barret has no choice but to include Cloud to his assault team on Reactor #5. This time, Tifa's also coming with. Which is certainly a boon, and, soon, the game allows me to manipulate Barrent's equipment and materia. Which is good, because he had a Healing and Lightning materia on his person that I couldn't touch before hand. That, and we can now mod his weapon as well.

That done, plus a little shopping, and with no additional side-quests available at this time, we engage the next mission. An announcement on the train blares that the terrorist group Avalanche has issued another threat, which Barret mentioned before hand, that all of Midgar is under alert, and to expect delays. If train delays are the worst of it, then that's a minor inconvenience to the city's citizenry at best. However, one doubts it will be limited to only that. To see how smooth this operation goes, tune in next time, for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
I'm going to take some time off from this game to enjoy the other games I got for Christmas this year. Rather than saddle myself with running two LPs at once, I'll just play them alongside this. However, let me talk a bit about a mechanic that exists here that didn't exist in the original FF7.

So, in this game, you can stagger enemies for a while. When enemies are staggered, they can't move, evade, and take additional damage. This is something of a carry over from FF13, except the method to stagger enemies in FF13, if memory recalls, was pretty cut-and-dry. You have Ravagers use elemental spells (so, your Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, or their derivatives) to deal decent stagger damage, but, enemies could quickly recover from that unless there was a Commando present.

As something of an aside, I recall a moment in FF13 where the active party was just Sazh and Vannile. They basically only had the Ravager role unlocked, and being thrown into battle, staggering enemies seemed to take forever to do. Yeah, they were doing a lot of stagger damage, but, barley enough to fill the stagger bar, even with full ATB gauges. Then, by the time either of them could act again, the stagger bar was already back to 0. Staggering enemies was the main mechanic by which you win battles in that game, and battles was the only main point of player interaction with that game. So, uh, yeah, maybe not the smartest of ideas to set that situation on the player, there, Square-Enix.

Anyway, with this game, it's not so cut-and-dry. It's not just a matter of throwing elemental attacks, or finding the enemy's weakness. Though, I imagine hitting an elemental weakness would go far in staggering an enemy. However, I've only staggered maybe 6 enemies in this game so far, but, most of the time? Well, I haven't needed to. While controlling Cloud, or Tifa, I've had them do one set of basic attacks, which tends to fill an ATB bar, which, yeah, I use to activate abilities, or use spells. For Cloud, it's generally Braver or Triple Slash, and with Tifa, it's been Unbridled Strength or Jump Kick.

However, I think the idea here is to use the Assess/Scan materia/command as you encounter new foes, as the scan-screen includes hints on how to stagger enemies. Then, use that knowledge to your advantage to stagger the foe, then pull out all the stops you can. There was at least one enemy, I've already forgotten which one, where the hint was to block it's attacks, as it would then be more open to attacks. Or... something. Tell you what. Next fight, I'll use the Asses materia, and show you what that looks like.
In the third part of the LP, I got kinda lost because of the number of characters and some stuff not making a whole lot of sense narratively. But I don't mind I think there might be enough time and opportunities to catch up on various members of the crew later.
The Elemental Materia is kind of dogshit because it's basically the optimal way to get the most stagger with a melee character but you have to know the elemental weaknesses ahead of time and switch materia, ain't a problem for boss fights since you can always restart ahead of time but I feel like it breaks the flow always having to switch out of battle.

I should probably get around to finishing this game since I'm close to the end, that's a 2023 gaming diary thing I guess.
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 5: Dogged Pursuit--

I've decided to keep track of my game-playing this year, and will post from time-to-time in the 2023 gaming diary. This should not effect this LP going forward, as I wasn't intending on playing this on a daily basis to begin with. Nor should that have been an expectation.

Anyway, last time, after an attack by a throng of spirits at Seventh Heaven, our local chapter of Avalanche has decided to go ahead and attack Reactor #5. Biggs had gone on ahead, as mentioned previously. With Jessie injured, and Wedge looking after both her, and the fort, the task falls on the heads of Barret, Tifa, and Cloud.

An advisory was issued by Shinra regarding the eminent terrorist attack. How long that advisory has been issued is unknown, nor how long Barret sent the message in the first place. However, regardless of what was known to the general populace, and when, train is practically empty. Are people calling in "sick", hoping to avoid the coming catastrophe?

Anyway, things seem to be running smoothly, until an ID scan-sweep detected the fake IDs, and drones were sent in a feeble attempt to take down the threat. The group decides to ditch the train, and go the rest of the way on foot. Tifa hits the emergency brake to slow the train down so they can jump off in safety. However, the train doesn't seem to slow down all that much before Barret makes his jump, with Cloud and Tifa making theirs shortly thereafter.

After recovering from the landing, the pair find themselves surrounded by drones, and make quick work of them before running to join back up with Barret. I promised a screencap of the scan screen, so... one is, with the stagger conditions/hints being the yellow text on the right side. I didn't mention this during the post where I talked about it, but, staggering enemies helps the Limit Break gauge grow. This fight made Tifa's Limit gauge fill to completion. Unfortunately, my timing in using it was off, and she ended up hitting nothing, as the battle had already concluded.

Let me go off on a brief aside here about limit breaks. Now, I've heard that, in FF6, if you select the Attack action when a character's health is low, there is a chance that character can perform their Desperation move. I've never attempted to verify this on my own, but, limit breaks certainly became more visible in the original FF7. In that game, characters could learn, or earn, more moves as the game progressed. I don't know if that's true in this game, or if characters will only ever have one limit break. We're still early enough in the game that whatever conditions to learn a move might still be a ways off yet.

Anyway, after Cloud and Tifa fell a group of guards and drones to reconvene with Barret, they use a conveniently placed railroad map to discuss how to proceed with the mission. Luckily, the way forward was marked with graffiti, but, is also the spawning grounds for some nasty bugs. A Scan tells me that a Blizzard can do wonders for staggering them, and allows Tifa to dish out yet another Limit Break because of that.

Along they way, the party comes across a bench, which serves as a resting place to restore HP/MP. This is maybe the second time I've seen one of these. While you can save pretty much anywhere in this game, I can't help but to look at these as a kind of save point, marking places where it may be a good idea to break from the game, reconfigure your materia, or whatever.

There's a string of tough fights as the tunnel commences, with benches between then, followed by a boss fight at the end. This boss lasts long enough for Ifrit to be summoned, and for him to unleash Hellfire. I at least tried to screencap some part of Hellfire's animation, but, didn't quite like the resulting image. Also, things were getting a little frantic. Tifa was taking a lot of damage, and took a Raise and Pheonix Down during that last fight. Though, on the flip side, she was able to perform her limit skill once, or maybe twice, during that string of fights.

However, after all that was said and done, the party comes up on a lift, and interacting with that ends the chapter. However, as a cute aside, the grafitti the party was following was that of a dog, with it's nose pointing in the direction they should go. Hence, the chapter's name. As for what lies ahead, well, that's for next time, on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 6: Light the Way--

Last time, Cloud, Tifa, and Barret had survived a gauntlet of challenging fights. However, they aren't quite out of the woods yet. The party is currently in section E. If I understand correctly, the entrance to the reactor (or, at least where Biggs is waiting) is in section H. So, the general plan is to move through sections E, F, and G to get to H. This is pure, 108% padding of the game, and I'm not sure if I appreciate it. However, here we are, and that's what the game has put before us.

Naturally, this trek involves more bug enemies, and maybe a few puzzles which involve rerouting power from sun-lamps to other portions of the map. Such as the ability to open gates, move catwalks, and, oh, mounted security turrets for the players to knock out.

There's two materia tucked away in the corridors, with a bit of puzzle-solving to get to them. The first I was able to get was an Elemental materia. Let me tell you what, when I saw that blue orb, I assumed it would be an All materia. But, no, it was an Elemental materia. Not that an Elemental materia is bad, but, like, I feel I should have at least one All by now.

Then again, weapons having linked slots is something that is tied, to a degree, to the weapon modification system. Like, there's a node on both Tifa's Leather Gloves, and Barret's Gatling Gun labeled "New Materia Slot" with the description of "Adds an additional materia slot, or links two existing slots." I experimented with this a bit, and in those instances, both granted one additional slot. Now, the Leather Gloves already had two two linked slots to begin with, so, adding a third slot was expected. However, the Gatling Gun had two unlinked slots. So, I'm not really sure what determines when a "New Materia slot" node actually grants a linked slot at this time.

As for the other materia, that turned out to be a Choco Mog summon materia. Which I kinda find interesting, as this materia arguably the first summon materia the player could come across in the original FF7. I don't specifically recall when one gets Ifrit, Shiva, and Ramuh in the original FF7, but, I can recall where one gets Titan.

At any rate, with all the sun-lamps off, the cargo elevator finally has enough power to move. From where it leaves the party off, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Biggs' location, and the end of this chapter. A foreboding crawlspace lies before the party, but, if you really think that's going to stop them, then you've got another thing coming. To see what is coming, stop on by for the next entry of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 7: A Trap is Sprung--

Last time, our hardy party had went through some puzzles in order to reach Reactor #5. Which were totally not any attempt by Square-Enix to pad the game whatsoever. Biggs was waiting for them, but, rather than join the group, his his job is now to evacuate the populace. While Jessie's bomb should be less potent than before, we're still erring on the side of caution here. Avalanche may be labeled as terrorists, rebels, or what-have-you, but, their enemy is the mega-corporation, Shinra. Not the average, everyday citizen of Midgar.

Getting to the reactor core from the crawlspace wasn't a big problem. The problem came from Shinra being prepared, and setting up an ambush for our heroes. Which, if you think about it, makes a certain amount of sense. Barret informed them they would attack, so, how could we not expect them to put up a defense? The exact nature of that defense was not known until now, however.

Shinra has also decided to televise the story about this bombing, and streams footage from Reactor #1's bombing, with people causing chaos and ruckus as the order to evacuate Sector 1 comes down. Who knows how many people Biggs was able to got out of there before this story hit the air?

Either way, the party passed by a mech that Shinra intended to sic on them, but, it's not quite ready yet. They can interfere with this a little bit...

...before taking it on. They even give us a bench before the fight, just in case. Before that, though, the president of Shinra, himself, deigns to give our intrepid heroes an audience. Albeit a remote audience, sent over a comm-channel. Here, while he acknowledges that his company drains the planet of mako energy, he points out that it isn't just Shinra that reaps the benefits. Let's make no mistake. They do make truckloads of money. However, let's also not forget that the city of Midgar literally runs on the stuff. Perhaps people are ignorant of what might happen if there is no more mako energy to use, however, that's hardly a concern right now. The concern right now is survival.

This fight for survival is now on two fronts. One, is the obvious one that's now right in front of our faces. In other words, the boss fight. The other is that Shinra has hijacked the explosive, and they now have control of when it explodes, rather than be triggered off of a remote device Tifa had on her, compliments of Jessie.

Even with the mech not having everything it should, this is a damn tough fight, with only Barret surviving it, and even then, only barely. However, the thing was felled, and the explosion caused a big gap in the bridge. Tifa and Barret on one side, and Cloud on the other, hanging onto an edge precariously. While Tifa tries looking for a way for Cloud to get up, Barret picks her, up, and carries her off. Even while she's kicking and screaming for her comrade, yet another explosion knocks Cloud off his perch...

...and into the depths. Well, then. That's not good. That's not good at all. To see all this pans out, keep your eye on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 8: Budding Bodyguard--

Last time, our heroes were split up, with Barret taking Tifa as far as from the reactor as possible. Meanwhile, Cloud took an involuntary dive down to the slum level. Thankfully, since Cloud is a SOLIDER, he survived the fall. It's not like he recovers instantaneously, but, I'm not entirely sure how long it does take him. Regardless, when he comes to, he finds himself face-to-face with that flower seller he met from the beginning of the game, in a bed of flowers.

Let's take a bit of an aside here to rely some info. This aside is pretty lengthy, so, I'm putting it under a hide-tag for those that want to move along. However, I will note here that I've set the difficulty down to "Easy" after that last boss fight.

So, part of the pre-boss blat was either President Shinra, or one of the executives of his company, relaying that they were using Avalanche, and the destruction of the reactors, as a focal point to go to war with Wutai again.

Let me back up a bit more to see if this conclusion has any basis in what the game was telling me. I don't think I can replay scenes to see what was precisely said during that blat. However, it goes without saying that Shinra has put Avalanche's activities in a negative light. I will note that one of the things that was relayed during Shinra's PR stunt was to proclaim that Avalanche was supported by remnant Wutai insurgents. Such groups may, or may not, actually exist. However, if their goal is to ignite another war with Wutai, I don't know what Shinra has to gain from such an action.

Or, maybe the intent isn't to go to war at all. Perhaps they are doing this as a mechanism to keep the populace under their control. I might be going off the deep end here, but, if I recall my American history classes, the US government set rations on various resources/products during World War II. I don't pretend to recall what all was rationed, but, the general idea was that, by limiting those products/resources to the general populace, the remainder could be directed to the war effort. It was also considered a matter of patriotism to abide to rationing quotas. So, perhaps, Shinra is doing something similar here, associating compliance with their wishes/goals to a kind of patriotism.

I don't know if there were actually rewards for people to be complacent with rationing during World War II, but, the apparent complacency towards the practice of rationing during that time was something George Orwell made statements about in his novel, 1984. I don't want to go any deeper than I already have, but, most characters in the novel don't notice that their enemy could change from East Asia to Eurasia at a moment's notice. I think the idea here is that this speaks to to how gullible/unobservant they are, or how well they are brainwashed by the government. However, it occurs to me that the dire situation of being "at war" was so constant, and persisted for so long, that who they were at war with didn't actually matter, and would comply with whatever rationing that came down from Big Brother. In other words, they were used to it, and didn't bother questioning why the war was still going on, who it was against, or for what reason(s) it was being waged.

The concept of rationing is also relevant to recent times, though. I'm thinking, specifically, about the outset of the covid pandemic. However, since this rant has gone all over the place, and for long enough, I'll stop here. Plus, this is hardly the place to speak of matters that could hit too close to home for potential readers.

I'm getting the particular impression there will be some down-time this chapter, and some side-jobs will open up. Well, that might happen later, but, for now, Cloud's stuck in the church until the next event clears. Which involves talking with the lady, and having some guys that look like trouble barge in. Naturally, Cloud has to clear these guys out. I probably could have done a little better during that fight, though.

With the group down for the count, the pair make their escape, with ghosts leading the way. Which is a phenomenon both Cloud and his charge are wondering about, but, it's not like they are in a position to ruminate about it. After having evaded the danger, at least for the moment, Cloud gets the flower peddler home. There's a segment where the two are on the rooftops, and can only go in single file before reaching the ground level. Which, naturally, is infested with monsters. Not entirely content to let Cloud do all the work, the flower peddler, Aerith Gainsborough, joins him in battle.

As the two approach a more residential portion of Sector 5, a group of people are surrounding an outdoors, large-screen television that is airing a report at Mako Reactor #5. The report states that crews are still cleaning up from the fallout, and that the reactor, itself, will be offline for the foreseeable future. Now, personally speaking, I wouldn't expect a sabotaged reactor to be back online for months, if not longer. Anyway, a Shinra executive arrives on site to supervise. Or, maybe just checking up on the progress of the clean-up. Either way, the reporter flags down the exec, and a statement is made to ease the nervousness of the people. However, that exec doesn't exactly answer questions posed about the possibility of another potential attack, or what Shinra plans to do about their possible presence in the city.

I find it interesting that the reporter mentions how Avalanche is responsible for the destruction of Reactor #1 and 5. Which is basically true. However, the only response made to such queries is that Shinra will protect it's citizens. Perhaps if it was left at that, it would be enough. However, the poor sop that was working the camera was tripped over, or something, and then the feed was cut short due to a guard butting in. Which might not have been be the best PR move for Shinra to take.

Anyway, the pair moves through town, with Aerith being asked to do some volunteer work for a local orphanage. Cloud begrudgingly agrees to go with her on this errand, and does not care to enter the building for when it's done. With Aerith saying that "I might be a while", one might thing that might trigger some side-questing. It does not. So, it's either going to be later this chapter, or maybe next chapter, at this point.

Moving along, a guy, who kinda matches the description of #49 that we meet in Chapter 3, has been creeping out some of the kids. Aerith and Cloud peruse the rumor into a scrapyard. They don't find the guy, but, they do find some kids out on a floating platform. Cloud does his thing, impressing the tykes with his moves, and are returned safely. Though, said guy, who has a #2 tattoo, does choose to make an appearance afterwards. Hrm.

After he leaves is when the game decides to throw a few side-quests at me. However, before I get to any of them, there was a yellow materia in the church that I couldn't get to before that I probably can now. I met no resistance on the way, which kinda surprised me. I figured the monsters would have respawned by now.

To say the least, I've been looking forward to getting off-rails, even if the amount of time spend there was probably around an hour or two before getting back on. So, let me give some summaries as to what happened there.

Among the first that I could complete was talking to a kid in a moogle outfit. This kid will trade moogle medals, strewn throughout the game, in exchange for various items. Next up was a guy worrying about some machines on the rampage in the scrapyard. Well, Cloud sure made short work of them! Next was finding some wayward kids for a teacher at the orphanage. Next was an old man whose dead wife is buried in a graveyard. One that happens to be in the scrapyard. Monsters taken care of, Aerith takes a moment to pay respects in the old man's stead. Next was playing a round of wack-a-box for the amusement of the kids. My score was shy of the 20,000 mark, but, I think I only needed 10,000 to mark the job done. Last was a reporter that was sent to cover the story of a burger that is said to steal from the rich citizenry of the topside, and gives to the poor citizenry of the slums. The only lead we get is that she might be in the graveyard, but, all that's found is a bot, and a calling card.

That out of the way, it's time we take Aerith back home. Again. The pair is accosted by a Shinra agent, and the two sides scuffle for a bit. Then, he's recalled to another location. Aerith's mom isn't exactly pleased that the two came home so late, and asks her daughter to set up the guest room. Then, while her daughter's out of listening range, she asks Cloud to leave that night without a fuss. Which, if you ask me, would suit Cloud just fine.

Sneaking out of this house is a lot harder in this game than it is in the original FF7, and is pretty aggravating. See, in the original FF7, all you had to do was not hold circle, and walk downstairs. If you hold circle, you run, make noise, are caught by Aerith, and need to start from scratch. In this game, there's junk riddled on the floor, and if you touch anything, even in the slightest, it will make a noise, and will alert Aerith, and you'll have to start from scratch. Uge.

Even if the player was perfectly silent, and did it in one go, it doesn't actually matter, as Cloud finds Aerith waiting ahead of him, along the path to Sector 6. She rejoins him, and off they go, and with them, the end of the chapter. To see how much they pad the happenings in Sector 6, keep your eye on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 9: The Town That Never Sleeps--

Last time, Cloud did his best to leave Aerith at her home, but, found her waiting for him while on his way to Sector 6. Knowing he won't be catching a break from her any time soon, he allows her to accompany him.

At any rate, Aerith claims to know a shortcut through Sector 6 that avoids Wall Market altogether. Which suits Cloud, since he'd rather reconvene with Barret and the others sooner, rather than later. The area that lays before me is somewhat familiar territory, with a mech's hand practically right in front of me. There's a few of these in this area that are used for puzzle-solving material, and one such puzzle leads me to our first All materia. It's called Magnify in this game, but, from the effect text, it functions similarly enough to an All.

After the stretch of puzzles and goons is a playground. The two take a small breather, have a short conversation before continuing on their journey. I find it kinda interesting that, in this game, Cloud has a seizure fit when Aerith speaks the name of her first boyfriend. Because of that, neither Cloud, nor the player, actually get to hear what she said. Whereas, in the original FF7, Aerith doesn't even bother with the name-drop. As for this LP, I've been trying to avoid name-dropping as a general rule, though, the Shinra executives mentioned earlier will probably be name-dropped eventually.

Anyway, Aerith crawls through an opening of a giant moogle head, opens a manhole that's hidden underneath, explaining that it's the best way to get to Sector 7. Cloud doesn't seem entirely willing to just leave Aerith behind. If you ask me, his personality so far might indicate that whatever Aerith's problems are, they aren't his business anymore. However, the attention of both Aerith and Cloud is directed to a giant door opening, and a carriage moving past them. It's occupant is...

...a nicely-dressed Tifa? Cloud jumps on the back railing of the carriage, and Tifa explains she's on the way to talk to, well, let's just call him a mob boss for now. She doesn't expound further details as to why she thought this was a good idea, due to the circumstances at hand. Cloud considers her advice of continuing towards Sector 7, but, Aerith is of the mind that Cloud should help Tifa. I wouldn't say he's reluctant, but, he's not exactly gung-ho about the idea either.

The pair eventually catch up to the carriage again, but, this time, it's missing it's occupant. They try asking the driver as to where she went off to, but, he's not responding. The chocobo makes a small ruckus, another guy comes out, and the pair tries to get some info out of him instead. The player has a three-way SHOW CHOICE concerning a description of Tifa. For the sake of curiosity, I did a bit of save-scumming, trying each choice to see the results of each. The immediate effect doesn't seem to matter, as Aerith complains to how Cloud is describing Tifa, while the guy picks up on who Cloud was referring to regardless of the choice made.

However, there may be some far-reaching consequences here. In the original FF7, characters had a hidden relationship value that determines who appears with Cloud in a date sequence later in the game. It's possible this SHOW CHOICE increments a similar value, but, I'm not 100% sure which choice would be best if one would want a high value for/with either Tifa or Aerith. I also find it somewhat interesting that there's no mention anywhere of what clothes she was last seen wearing, the color of her eyes, or the color, and styling, of her hair. Or, you know, anything more than a one-line description.

All that aside, I poke around the town, attempting to get my bearings a bit before I hit the mansion in the back. Now, we've heard that Tifa's being interviewed by the mobsters, and that interview is probably going to be inside that building. As for what she's being interviewed for, the mob boss guy runs an escort service as his front business, and has this tenancy to keep some of the prettier consorts for himself. Tifa's in the running for such a position, aligning with her plan to "talk" to him. Though, I would still very much like to know why she thought it was a good idea to gather information in this way. Or, at least have some idea of what kind of information she's looking for.

As for what the plan is to extricate Tifa from that building, one might expect from the game so far, is for Cloud to make a ruckus. Then, while Cloud is distracting gaggles of goons and thugs with his personal style of mayhem, Aerith sneaks in, and gets Tifa out of there.

To say the least, this is not the plan. Apparently, the plan is to get Aerith into the interview, so that she can help Tifa from the inside. While it's not quite specified what Cloud would be doing during that time, there's a few things the we need to do to get Aerith into the interview. There's a trio of individuals to talk to, but, only one of them considers helping the pair.

Naturally we need to do her a favor first, and this involves winning all rounds in the coliseum. In the original FF7, the coliseum had seven or eight rounds, each round applying some manner of negative side-effect, and the fights were solo. Perhaps it works like this later, but, for now, Cloud fights with Aerith, the break room provides a bench and vending machine, and you're allowed to use both between rounds.

That done, while Aerith is getting all dressed up and fancy, Cloud is left to his lonesome for a while. However, if you thought this was another opportunity for side-questing, you would be... correct! Only three quests are available here, and, as before, I'll be doing a brief summary of them.

So, first, is a visit to the gym to do some squats. This was a thing in the original FF7, and this instance of the squatting mini-game doesn't deviate too much from the formula. There are button prompts to assist with the rhythm/timing of the mini-game, but, it does fade/vanish after some time. I was able to keep up the rhythm to beat the opponent pretty soundly. Next up is the clothing store, sorting out a family and their business by way of chaining together fetch-quests. As per the nature of fetch-quests, I was running around Wall Market like an idiot. Then, another bout in the coliseum.

Those now done, it's high-time to reconvene with...

...a dressed-up Aerith. Cloud's been thinking lately how this plan of getting Tifa out might be more dangerous than he thought, and isn't willing to let Aerith go in there alone. This matches Aerith's thoughts, and after some convincing on her part, and a Dance Dance Revolution mini-game (which I totally suck at, by the way), Cloud...

...also joins in the dress-up gang. Cloud cross-dressing to help save Tifa was part of the original FF7, but, getting to that point was certainly a different sequence of events than it is here. Regardless, Cloud just wants to get this over with, and, frankly, so do I. The pair eventually meet up with Tifa, and we finally hear her story for why she's even here in the first place.

So, after the split-up at Reactor 5, some guys were poking their noses about Avalanche's activities. Tifa found out they were mobsters after a bit of digging, but, wasn't entirely sure what their angle was in knowing Avalanche's activities. She thought that, by questioning the boss, she'd be able to get that info. There was no guarantee she'd get one-on-one with him, but, now that there's three people, the chances of getting the info Tifa was trying to get increases.

Though, I'm going to have to echo Cloud's "Seriously?" sentiment. There had got to be a better way to go about this. However, here we are. I've been able to get Cloud chosen by the mob boss maybe twice in my various playthroughs of the original FF7. With this playthrough of this game, the mob boss lands on Cloud. I don't pretend to know the precise conditions for this choice in either game, so, I will not expound on this further.

The game has a cut with Cloud and the don before cutting to Aerith and Tifa being presented to some goons for "entertainment". Except these ladies aren't going to play with them that way. The two then mop 'em up in their finery. A guard from before, that seems to work with on one of the trio that we visited earlier, drops off their regular clothes and equipment. After a fade out and in, it's time to meet up with Cloud and the don. After some threats, the don relays some info.

It's no surprise to learn that Shinra wants to eliminate Avalanche. To this end, they used/paid the mobsters to find Barret, his team, and that their hideout was in Sector 7. However, if the don is right, they are going waaaay overboard with their removal options. They plan to release the support pillar that holds the sector up to eliminate not just Avalanche's hideout, but, pretty much level the entirety of Sector 7 to dust. Of course, our heroes are delayed from acting on this info by way of a trick floor that is opened, sending them into the sewers. This marks the end of this chapter. Will our heroes make it out of the sewers in time to save Sector 7? Find out next time, on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 10: Rough Waters--

Last time, Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa infiltrated a mob hideout to discover that Shinra was planning on leveling Sector 7 to the ground. However, they fell into to a trap, and find themselves in the sewers.

Everyone was knocked out from the fall, but, of course, Cloud recovers first. I think who Cloud moves to assist first might be a relationship point in the original game, and that might also be true here. Even if that wasn't the case, I'd help up Tifa first anyway. After doing so, the party finds themselves engaged in a boss fight, which they deal with in due time.

These sewers includes a mechanic of raising and lowering water levels to proceed. As the party maneuvers through them, Tifa questions whither or not that mob boss spouted truth or fiction three times. Each time, she concludes that it just doesn't seem right. What would Shinra gain from destroying all of Sector 7 just to get back at Barret/Avalanche? Still, it behooves the party to keep pushing forward, on the off-chance that he wasn't spouting nonsense.

The party eventually surfaces, and can't help but to notice a helicopter passing over them. Tifa looks on with worry written all over her face, and it takes both Aerith's and Cloud's words of support and reassurance before they move on. There's still a ways to go before our heroes get to where they need to be. However, this chapter is at and end. To see what delay tactics the game throws at the party, and how they surmount them, keep reading the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 11: Haunted--

Last time, our three heroes had just surfaced from the sewers, noticing a Shinra helicopter flying by. After calming Tifa down, the group pressed forward into the train graveyard.

While Aerith doesn't seem to mind the spookiness, Tifa is trying her best not to be creeped out. At one point, florescent graffiti appears out of seemingly nowhere. Aerith playfully clings to Cloud, which ticks off Tifa, who then also clings to him. This puts Cloud in a rather...

...interesting situation for a brief period. The room ahead houses a ghost that Aerith tries to commune with, but, it ends up in a fight. The ghost moves a train to nearly crash down on the party, if it were not for Cloud's quick acting.

With their way forward blocked off, the trio moves about the train graveyard. Now, call me crazy, but, the background music here...

Final Fantasy 7 Remake - "Come On, This Way" kinda reminiscent of...

Castlevania Lament of Innocence - "Fog-enshrouded Nightscape"

...this ditty? In any event, the trio reaches a room, and while Cloud attempts to use a console, a gaggle of ghosts fuse together... form the next boss fight. Aerith has been able to hear the cries of the spirits, and understands that all it wanted was for somebody to play with. Meanwhile, Cloud has no idea what she's even on about, and I'd imagine Tifa is the same.

A bit further in, they find another spirit, and this one takes the form of Barret's adopted daughter, Marline. This triggers a flashback for Tifa, and when she comes out of it, telling the others they should push forward, her tone wavers between scared and determined.

The bench nearby this scene makes me think something big might be coming up. This usually translates to a boss fight, which might come later, but, the revelation caught radio chatter that Shinra is actually planning to drop the pillar floors Tifa's mood.

As an aside, doesn't anybody else find it more than a little convenient that a radio that's located in a place called "the train graveyard"...
-still functions, like, at all, despite the condition of the trains here
-happens to be tuned in on the frequency that was used by members of the Turks (Shinra's special covert operations squad)
-said Turks happened to be talking about the release the upper plate on Sector 7

Video game logic, right? Anyway, getting back to the situation at hand, Cloud manages to activate a few more trains to allow passage forward. However, the spirits aren't going to just let them go at that. They kidnap Aerith, and she sees it's last memories, before the others catch up to her, and it becomes the next boss...

...and it perishes for good. As per the screencap, I noticed that there was a note about stealing, but, I don't care to go back to the last checkpoint, or hard-save, to get this piece of equipment.

The trio moves forward, and through a grated fence, Tifa sees the pillar, part of which is lighted up by the fire of small arms. Aerith puts a hand on her shoulder as a show of support, then, a cut-scene ensues entailing various combats on the pillar, then moves back to Tifa. Her face is one of worry, then turns to one of fierce determination. That look tells me somebody is going to get served several heaping helpings of Seventh Heaven's Knuckle Sandwich Special.

However, this marks the end of the chapter. Things are getting pretty tense. How will it resolve? Maybe we can find out next time, on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
--Chapter 12: Fight for Survival--

Last time, our trio of heroes were getting side-tracked by the spooks of the train graveyard along their way to the Sector 7 support pillar, only to find that it's under attack. Not even a minute after Tifa rushes forward does she stop in her tracks, the way forward blocked by a gaggle of ghosts. Those dealt with, the trio moves forward. They see a platform above them with Barret firing off a clip, or three.

An explosion later, Wedge falls off a platform, but tries to use a grappling hook to stabilize. However, the surface he latched onto didn't last long, and he was send tumbling the rest of the way. His injuries could be worse, but, it's pretty obvious that Barret and company are here because they heard about Shinra's plan to drop the pillar.

Tifa and Aerith will stay behind to take care of Wedge, leaving Cloud to regroup with Barret and Biggs. Sounds like an opportunity to check/upgrade equipment and materia.

Cloud meets up with Biggs first, though, Biggs has certainly seen better days. Sprawled on the ground, and coughing as he speaks, Biggs asks Cloud to ensure that Avalanche's fight has merit and meaning before passing out. Who knows how long he'll be out, or if he'll even recover, given the situation at hand?

A few floors above is a cut-scene of a helicopter manned by Turks, using a loudspeaker to announce that Shinra is here to stop Avalanche from destroying the pillar. Which, yeah, is totally a PR stunt, but, thinking more seriously, who would believe that Shinra would do it themselves? Avalanche makes a perfect scapegoat.

The focus moves back to the ladies and Wedge as debris falls down. Tifa's swift kick sends the debris flying out of the way before landing on the pitiful Wedge. However, Tifa is no longer willing to stay put. She's going topside to join up with Cloud and Barret. As she moves off, the game gives control of Aerith to the player and has her follow Wedge as they trek to Seventh Heaven for Marline.

For full disclosure, there have been instances, at least in Chapter 9, where Aerith was the lead character outside of combat, rather than Cloud. Personally speaking, in I kinda would have liked to follow Tifa, even if that would mean retreading ground. Oh well.

Regardless, Wedge convinces a guard to open the gate to evacuate as many people as possible. At this point, there's no telling if the plate will drop or not, but, it's the best precautionary measure he can do for the worst case scenario. Aerith, now alone, moves to Seventh Heaven.

Or, at least that's the idea. I wouldn't call the streets crowded, but, she yells for people to move out of Sector 7 as she moves toward her goal. However, a helicopter goes down, and lands right smack dab along the shortest path to the bar. Of course it does. Moving down a different path, Aerith is distracted with another explosion that cuts off more paths, and her attention moves to a kid that she helps out of town. Trying to double back, another path gets blocked off, so, there's basically only one path out now.

Not that said fact is of any consequence, as a Turk appears at the door. Aerith states that she would like to make a deal with him. He stands aside, and Aerith moves hand-in-hand with Marline towards the helicopter that landed outside as the camera zooms into it.

This cues a shift in focus back to Cloud, with Tifa joining him in short order. The pair climbs the pillar, being assaulted by both soldiers on the ground, and a Turk-operated helicopter in the air. After a few floors, a cut-scene ensues of Jessie tossing a grenade at a group of soldiers, then confronted by a helicopter. When Cloud and Tifa meet with her, debris had fallen from the blast on top of her, and she doesn't sound long for this world.

All Cloud and Tifa can do is clench their fists, and move forward. There's a bench up ahead, so, one might forgive me for using it, and thinking there might be a boss ahead.

Which turned out to be correct. He's as tough as when we last fought him, which as was after Cloud fell into Aerith's church. I also manage to down the helicopter during the fight, but, it's pilot, another Turk, survived to join the fight, and becomes an even bigger mess. The party beats them pretty soundly, but, have no idea how to stop the plate separation from happening. After a bit of distraction by the ghosts, one of the Turks takes the opportunity of the chaos to confirm the operation.

Well, Futch-and-Bright. A short video conference with the Turk who captured Aerith explains that, at this point, there is nothing that can be done to stop the process. With only a half-minute left on the clock, the trio search for a way out. Barret finds a wire that they zipline down from as the upper plate explodes behind them. The line holds long enough for them to make their escape, but, both Biggs and Jessie were left behind. A cut-scene shows Wedge fending off ghosts from a gathering of cats as debris falls inevitably down on him. This matches up with their fate in the original FF7, but, these three were also much more minor characters as well.

The president of Shinra Incorporated looks down from his office at the spectacle...

...while the party was able to barely escape into the Sector 6 playground. Without a headquarters, and without handy and capable allies, where will they go from here? Find out next time on the Final Fantasy 7 Remake LP!
Guardian of the Description Thread
Before going any further, I'm beginning to think it's high-time I actually give some names to these villains. So, I'll go over the guys we've been fighting first, then some of the non-combatants of note.

The guy that we raced against in Chapter 4 is the only character I'll talk about here that did not exist in the original FF7. From what I can recall, he's a member of SOLDIER of an unknown class, and his name is Roche. He comes across as a guy that does whatever the hell he wants, and has a tendency to use puns related to the operation of vehicles.

The first Turk that we fought in Chapter 8 was called Reno. He comes off to me as being rather lazy and/or laid-back about his job, but, is pretty dangerous when he chooses to be serious.

The second Turk that we fought in Chapter 8 was called Rude. We also fought against both Reno and Rude in Chapter 12. Reno is a bit more serious about his job, and certainly has a more classic "Man in Black" outfit than Reno. He's unnaturally obsessed with wearing dark sunglasses, and seems to have an extra pair on his person in case one breaks for varying reasons. How the extra pairs stay intact despite what punishment he might take is anybody's guess, though. Or, we can chalk it up to video game logic. That works.

We were introduced to the Turk Tsung in Chapter 12 as the guy that captured Aerith. I'm not sure if I can make out a personality for him out of the brief appearance he's made in FF7R, but, in the original FF7, he came across to me as something of a leader for the Turks? We'll see if that matches up as I play.

Onto the Shinra executives, let's first talk about Heidegger. He's probably among the first we see in-game. His official position in the company is Head of Public Safety. While I'm not 100% sure what this translates to in this game, from what I can recall of the original FF7, he's in charge of the Turks, and perhaps SOLDIER. His defining characteristics is probably his horse laugh (printed as "Gha ha ha!" in the original FF7), and overbearing attitude towards his subordinates.

Next up is Scarlet. She was the Shinra executive that visited the fallout of Reactor #5 in Chapter 8. Her official position in Shinra is Head of Weapons Development. The development of the Airbuster that we fought in Chapter 7 was probably lead by her. While she hasn't made too much of a splash so far this game, she's absolutely got a mean streak a mile wide in the original FF7. She also has a tendency to wear (surprise!) red. Scarlet also has a unique laugh (printed as "Ka ha ha!" in the original FF7), but, I don't think she's produced a laugh in the context of FF7R as of yet.

The last character I'll go over in this post is the President of Shinra Incorporated. Now, in the original game, this character was never given a name. Which is certainly an interesting point to begin with. As for this game, I don't specifically recall him being given a name, but, I also could just be forgetful. I don't want to say too much more about this until I play more.
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