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Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade Review (PS5)

In 2020, Square Enix finally released the long-awaited remake of their all-time RPG classic, Final Fantasy VII. The remake took multiple twists and turns to carve out its own path and not linger in the shadow of the iconic 1997 classic – at least, what we’ve seen of it so far. The remake was only the beginning part of the game in Midgar. It ended with the rag-tag team of Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and Red XIII exiting the city, ready to find Sephiroth and stop him in the inevitable part 2 and beyond.

For me, Final Fantasy VII Remake was my favorite game of 2020, and my favorite JRPG since Persona 5. It felt new and refreshing in its fierce and fast gameplay, while retelling a story I loved with some unexpected surprises. I knew the wait for part 2 was going to be long and painful, but Square Enix decided to give my lucky PS5-owning-butt a surprise with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade – a next-gen upgrade in visuals and performance with Intermission, a new side story featuring a beloved character not seen in the base game. So, does the upgrade make an already incredibly game better? What’s does the DLC offer us gameplay and character-wise? When is Sony going to properly restock PS5’s so you can play this damn thing? I can answer the first two parts!

Hey, its Yuffie!

Yufi in Final Fantasy VII Intergrade

Players of the original game know that there are more teammates to meet going forward than what we saw in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Intermission focuses on one said character, the quirky materia hunter and ninja, Yuffie Kisaragi. What had me curious about the DLC is how would the remake handle her like the other characters we’ve met so far? Thankfully, it gives us a good (and cruelly short) taste into how Yuffie will work from a gameplay and characterization standpoint moving forward. 

For combat, Yuffie is incredibly fast and nimble with a good mixture of ranged attacks thanks to her 4-Point Shuriken. You can get other weapons as well, but it is fun to see her original starting weapon reimagined. Like the other characters combat-wise, Yuffie feels like her own force of nature in a remarkably fun way. Experimenting with her new abilities allows you to see her strength is mixing physical attacks with magic enhancements. More than any other character, besides Aerith, utilizing these skills effectively will allow you to do some serious damage to enemies weak to specific magic types like fire, ice, lightning, or wind. When you combine both the spell and the infused-weapon on an enemy that is weak to it, the result is extremely gratifying, especially since she is much better than the other party members in air combat. Seriously Square, thank you guys for fixing that annoying issue by giving us one character that is good at taking down air enemies with ease.

There’s one little extra element to Yuffie as well. Combining her abilities with her partner (and new character) Sonon! By pressing L2, Sonon can combine his ATB gauge with Yuffie and launch partner abilities that can do devastating damage. Yuffie can mix this by adding magic to her weapon and end battles in a snap. It’s a unique element to utilize only in the DLC, but it adds some fresh gameplay that is interesting to experiment with as fights get more challenging. 

The world and cast grow

The story for Intermission continues to flesh out Final Fantasy VII Remake in a new direction. Yuffie is shown to be a headstrong child with a lot to learn about the world, much like in the original game. Her new voice provided by Suzie Yeung adds a layer of wonder and vulnerability that we never got before. It pays off in dividends in character interactions with Sonon, who is also voiced brilliantly by Aleks Le. Sonon as a soldier who has seen a lot and is beaten down from it all, but he refuses to give up and sees himself as a good mentor and partner to Yuffie. Yeung and Le have very good chemistry that leads to emotional beats ranging from fun to heartbreaking all landing with ease. 

Both Yueng and Le join an already strong cast of voice actors and actresses that brought Remake to life in the first place. To my surprise, a lot of characters return with cameos with new material in Intermission with the same voice performers, including some fan favorites I did not expect to see again! This helps build Remake’s world even more with fun little moments that show how some smaller characters feel about our heroes (including one character’s thoughts on Cloud that had me laughing with joy).

The only thing that stinks about Intermission is it’s short. At only two chapters, you can get through it in about 4 to 5 hours if you ignore side quests. Although, I suggest you don’t, as the new VR Battles are incredibly fun and really helpful to level up and experiment with. Plus, there’s the Fort Condor minigame you can play against characters!

Fort Condor is a fun tower defense mixed with Fire Emblem style strategy game where you lay pieces out on a map to take out the other team’s towers. The Fire Emblem element comes from the rock-paper-scissors strategy that the three types of units, giving advantage or disadvantage to enemies. While there’s not a lot of matches to be played of it, Fort Condor is a deeply strategic and entertaining minigame that I hope comes back for part 2.

Fine-tuning a masterpiece

Final Fantasy VII overlooking a mountain

Now let’s discuss the Intergrade part of this new package for PS5. The next-gen enhancements take an already incredible game and only enhance it in remarkable ways. There are two modes to choose from based on your gaming preferences: A graphics mode that has the game run at pure 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. And a performance mode that lowers the resolution slightly to hit 60 frames per second. Since I played the game last year on PS4 Pro at 30 frames per second, I wanted to test out the performance mode at 60. That upgrade makes Intergrade worth it alone.

Testing out multiple areas and boss fights (including the late game fights), I never noticed a dip in frames or quality of the graphics and textures. It’s stunning to see what the PS5 can do to aid the amount of detail in art design by having the power to make texture pop-ins almost non-existent. The frame rate boost also makes combat feel fluid and intense, more so than the PS4 version (Not a statement I thought I would ever say.)

The frame rate boost comes in handy for new VR fights added in Intergrade. Fair warning to those who plan on trying these fights: remember how hard the boss gauntlet was to beat Bahamut and then “Pride and Joy” all in one go in Remake? Yeah. There’s a harder fight in Intergrade. I won’t spoil who it is, but at the time of this review being posted, I am 11 tries down with no success. And I beat Bahamut and “Pride and Joy” on my first try. So I appreciate the new challenge Square, but this is testing my skills to a breaking point.

Easier access would be nice

Final Fantasy VII - cutscene

As much as I enjoy Intergrade for being a true next-gen upgrade of a phenomenal game and Intermission for being great DLC, I can’t ignore the headache it took to get. First off, barring off Intermission as a PS5 exclusive feels wrong with how hard it is to find the PS5. The deal was probably put in place months ago to make it that way of course, but it hurts a lot of fans who will have the DLC spoiled just because they keep striking out on securing the system thanks to the shortage and scalpers. It might be a good PR move on Sony to re-examine that exclusivity and change it to help fans struggling to find the console that have PS4’s. 

Then there is how to get the upgrade. I own the physical copy on PS4 – the fact I had to go through multiple steps to even start downloading the upgrade feels very counterintuitive compared to next-gen upgrades on the Xbox Series X. With the Series X, the upgrade is downloaded to your system in an update and your save data automatically carries over. Easy! With Intergrade (and most other next-gen updates on PS5) you have to have the PS4 version on your hard drive, go into the game, upload your save data to a cloud one save file at a time, go to the PlayStation Store and find the free upgrade specific version of the game, download that, THEN go into THAT version to download your save data one save at a time. If you think that’s super convoluted, you’d be correct! Look, I know some of us laughed that Microsoft made the process of downloading next-gen updates a selling point by calling it “smart delivery”, but they got the last laugh on us because that feature is quickly becoming a massive selling point over the PS5. If I have to do this process again for other next-gen upgrades on PS5, I’m playing them on my Series X. No question. 

So where’s Final Fantasy VII Remake: Part 2

Final Fantasy VII Intergrade in-game shot

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade and Intermission are a wonderful combo of content to hold fans over as the wait for part 2 becomes even more excruciating. As hard as the wait is, Intergrade and Intermission shows that the team is ready to move the project forward into the next generation with confidence. The gameplay has never looked or felt better, and the story continues to take twists that feel fresh but respectful to the 1997 classic. Hopefully, it won’t be too long till we see Yuffie join up with Cloud and the gang for the next part of this epic adventure. 

Alex Lehew

28-year-old gamer, writer, content creator, weeb, and Sega fan! I'm old enough to remember when you played Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on a CRT, or how weird Revelations: Persona is. Constantly begging Atlus to make Snowboard Kids 3.
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