My fear from Final Fantasy VII Remake wasn’t born 20 years ago when first rumours about a PlayStation 2 remake appeared. It wasn’t in 2005 when Square Enix presented a tech-demo of their game for PlayStation 3, but a couple years later when…Wait a second? Have I not written this already?
Fans got what they wanted to hear, but new and improved.
Ah, yes! I remember now. I wrote a similar introduction to my Final Fantasy XV soundtrack review. I remember that my hesitation was bound to the sole fact that people completely unrelated to the series were supposed to compose the score and it was in the air what direction would they take. Thankfully, the artists outdid themselves and passed this pretty difficult test without a scratch.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake’s case, the situation is opposite: not only the music was entrusted to the series’ veterans – Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki (both of them worked together for Final Fantasy X), it also plays in a vastly revamped version of the best-known jRPG games in history with a soundtrack that matches the game’s prestige. Speaking differently, old timers knew what what to expect after the first announcement…which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I will begin with the positives. Hamazu and Suzuki had a damn tough challenge ahead of them. Not only they had to mimic Nobuo Ueamtsu work from 20 years ago, they also had to deliver it in a way that would please both old and young players. Here I must admit that they managed to pull it off.
New-old tracks supplemented the game’s convention wonderfully.
Despite forgoing „metallic” sound for full orchestra, all of the key pieces, from Midgar – City of Mako by Aertith’s Theme up towards One Winged Angel, kept their original melodies. So those who were discovering Midgar’s surface and slums 20 years ago will feel home, yet again promenading between heaps of junk or Shinra’s futuristic factories and listening to well-known and refreshed melodies.
Next thing worthy of noting is that the new-old tracks supplemented the game’s convention wonderfully. For example, the new sound of boss music was heavily influenced by fundamental changes in FFVII’s combat system: old-fashioned and slow turn-based system had to be replaced by one that is more effective and dynamic, while still offering a challenge. Dynamism is the keyword here. Remember the Airbuster fight in the original game and then look what was presented to us in the new version.
The original resembles a fight against a toaster, while the remake version is taken straight out of a Marvel movie. Care was taken to ensure proper mood for the fight, hence more dynamism and almost full orchestration with a touch of electronics. And choir. What kind of a fight is one that has no choir? Even the scenes that picture the characters pouring their souls out were given touching theme. The result is authentically moving, like Aerith’s Theme, which is what the fans wanted to hear, but new and improved.
Cutting it short, reconstruction of the soundtrack went according to the plan. Each melody included sounds exactly as it should in XXI century’s second decade, without losing its original character. Problem is…I’d heard it all before. Not once, not twice, not even one hundred times.
An album providing nothing new to the game’s universe.
Unfortunately, FFVII Remake’s soundtrack fell into the trap I wrote about some time ago: the original FFVII was exploited heavily by Square Enix. Numerous gadgets, spin-offs and other trinkets related to the universe of VII ricocheted into the soundtrack, what can be seen in plentiful symphonic, rock, metal, piano albums that were released in the past dozen years.
This album is yet another one. I must admit I did enjoy listening to it and I am happy that Hamauzu and Suzuki weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, only improving it. But it’s difficult for me to hide the fact that it’s an album providing nothing new to the game’s universe. We’ve heard it before.
Should you skip it? I am fairly certain that old player, who consume next albums with FFVII’s music despite genre or version will like this one. Younger audience new to the series should also be easily appeased by this release. Considering everything, I think the board with „for Fans and First Timers” in the game matches the soundtrack perfectly.
Truly worn out material.
When it comes to me, I can write what I wrote before – that the soundtrack was a joy to listen to but it’s tough to expect high praise from me. It feels like truly worn out material, but I am far, far away from tossing the CD into a corner and forgetting about all of it.