Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII PS2 Review

Fans had been clamouring for a sequel to Final Fantasy VII for years and Square-Enix finally delivered with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It was wonderful, but there was one key problem. rather than being the game that everyone wanted, Advent Children was actually an impressive CG film. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII on the other hand is a game, but rather than being an RPG as its predecessor was, Dirge of Cerberus is instead a full blown action game, confusing, eh?

Dirge of Cerberus is set three years after the events of FFVII and rather than following Cloud, the game instead focuses on the popular and enigmatic hidden character: Vincent Valentine as he battles a new threat. Happily, most of the key characters from the cherished original make fleeting appearances at the very least.

Given Square-Enix’s and Final Fantasy VII’s RPG roots, it’s hardly a surprise that the game is driven by its narrative. It’s certainly a good plot that is accentuated by stylishly OTT cut-scenes, decent enough voice-acting and some good new personalities, all of which should please FFVII fans.

Gameplay on the other hand, is vastly different from its older brother.

Vincent can jump, shoot, kick and punch all without the need to wade through menus, indeed Dirge of Cerberus is an action game through and through and a generic one at that. Locked doors require you to find key cards usually by offing enemies, whilst dumb generic enemies come at you thick and fast, just waiting for you to shoot them.

This structure is broken up by the occasional little challenge, requiring you to do such things as taking out as many enemies as possible in an allotted time. Your performance in these plays a part in your end of level rating, along with the usual accuracy, times died .ect.

Unsurprisingly there’s also the occasional boss to contend with too. Unfortunately the majority of these lot require little strategy to overcome, with Vincent’s fireball hurling demonic alter ego often being more than enough to take them down.

In a nod to its RPG roots, Vincent’s weapon can be modified. Barrels can be changed, scopes can be fitted and parts can be strengthened – altering accuracy, weight and the strength of the weapon. A touch that we came to very much appreciate, whilst playing the game is the fact that you can have at the ready up to three crafted weapons, which means visits to the menu to tweak your gun for the situation thankfully isn’t a regular occurrence.

Square-Enix are renowned for crafting breathtakingly beautiful visuals, so it came as a surprise when we discovered that Dirge of Cerberus is pig ugly. Backdrops look horrifically bad, certainly not helped by the fact that level design is uninspired, and whilst you’ll revisit many a location from FFVII, they’re hardly what you’d call a trip down memory lane for fans of the famous game, as the majority happen to look nothing like the visually memorable pre-rendered areas from the original. On the other hand the detail of the characters is impressive, which is best displayed in the myriad of cut-scenes throughout the game, and there’s some astounding FMV sequences, which are sadly few and far between, but are well worth waiting for, as the stunning visual quality is certainly Comparable to Advent Children’s.

Dirge of Cerberus, whilst occasionally enjoyable is not the brilliant game it’s predecessor was (or as good as any Final Fantasy for that matter, including the fantastic CG film). Square Enix’s inexperience with the genre shows and we only wish they stuck to what they do best, which is crafting fantastic RPG’s. It‘s unfortunate that the gameplay is little more than average, but at least the story retains its excellence, which could be more than enough for fans of the legendary FFVII to make the purchase.