Republished on Wednesday, 13th July, 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The original text follows.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is the PlayStation 5 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake, boasting enhanced graphics and better technical performance. Needless to say, it takes the adventure up a notch, and when you throw Episode INTERmission into the mix, it feels like Remake has evolved into a more complete package.
In this review, we'll be covering both Intergrade and INTERmission in separate chunks, with a full conclusion at the end.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
For the uninitiated, Final Fantasy VII Remake retells — and reimagines, to no small degree — the opening several hours of the original Final Fantasy VII. It charts the actions of AVALANCHE, an organisation that rallies against the tyrannical Shinra — an all-powerful energy company that's quite literally bleeding the planet dry in order to sustain its dominance. The entirety of Remake takes place within Midgar — a massive industrial city that houses Shinra's main operations.
You play, primarily, as Cloud Strife, a seemingly uncaring mercenary and former Shinra SOLDIER — an elite fighter infused with processed power from the planet itself. The game opens with Cloud currently employed by AVALANCHE, as the group carries out its first assault on one of Midgar's energy reactors, with the intent of blowing it up.
It's still a fantastic opening act that really sets the tone for the rest of the release. Final Fantasy VII Remake is at its absolute best during these more focused story sequences, where it combines likeable characters, smooth cinematics, and an excellent combat system to great effect. Outside of these high quality chunks, however, Remake remains a bit misguided in its structure.
Stretching the first few hours of Final Fantasy VII out across a whole 40-hour game was always going to be Remake's biggest challenge, and unfortunately, its worst moments still feel like needless filler. At times, the elongated storytelling does work, providing the cast with better character development, and more involved roles within the narrative. But then there are also points where it's clear that Square Enix was trying to pad things out, lest it end up with a shorter game.
Now don't get us wrong; the highs of Remake far outweigh the lows overall, but the quality is still inconsistent. For every booming, utterly brilliant boss battle, there's a few minutes of completely uneventful corridor traipsing and parody levels of gap-squeezing. Some of Remake's environmental design is so linear and uninteresting that it can start to feel like a really weird walking sim.
Fortunately, there's more than enough incentive to push through Remake's weaker parts. As alluded, the action is top notch. A hybrid combat system, which fuses real-time movement and attacks with command-based magic and abilities, is quite possibly the best thing to happen to Final Fantasy in years. Switching characters, striking enemy weaknesses, and dealing massive stagger damage to your foes is supremely satisfying. Between its big budget story scenes and bombastic battles, there's a brilliance to Remake that shines through the clutter.
And on PS5, it helps that Remake can run at a buttery smooth 60 frames-per-second. Intergrade comes with two graphical modes: performance and fidelity. The former boosts the frame-rate to 60 at the cost of resolution (we think it's at or around 1620p, which isn't bad at all), while the latter provides 4K support at a capped 30fps. Oh, and a photo mode has been added, which is always a nice touch.
Indeed, your Create button's probably going to get a decent workout with Intergrade, given that the game can often appear stunning. On PS5, the enhanced lighting effects are a real treat, especially during nighttime scenarios where Midgar's electrics flicker into the life. When it looks good, it looks damn good.
But try not to stare when you're out and about in the slums, because a lot of those terrible textures that plagued the PS4 version are still present. Some of the most meme-worthy examples have been fixed — the door to Cloud's apartment, for instance — but finer environmental details, like scrap piles, grass, and shop signs, are still shockingly blurred.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade: Episode INTERmission
Accessed directly from the game's main menu, the frustratingly named Episode INTERmission is a separate campaign starring Yuffie — a young ninja from the distant land of Wutai who's on a mission to infiltrate Shinra headquarters. Together with a new character named Sonon, Yuffie travels through a number of rundown Midgar districts, and it makes for a fun, if somewhat short-lived adventure.
Before we get into it, it's worth noting that INTERmission is not included with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade if you upgrade for free from the PS4 version, and must be bought separately. If you're a first time buyer on PS5, however, INTERmission comes with Intergrade.
Episode INTERmission consists of two story chapters, both around two to three hours in length. The plot itself takes place during the main story of Remake, just after Cloud and co pull off their second reactor bombing. The DLC actually ties into the central narrative quite well, providing extra context on what's happening around Midgar at the time, as chaos begins to ensnare the city.
Overall, INTERmission is a nicely paced mix of story, linear adventuring, and crisp combat. Yuffie's agility means that she can perform contextual platforming, which makes exploration feel more dynamic than what you'll find in the main game. She can swing across gaps, run along walls, and hurl her giant shuriken at distant objects. Put all of this together, and the DLC's level design definitely benefits. It's nothing mind-blowing, but it forms the basis of a solid romp.
Combat is pretty interesting as well. Sonon is your only other party member, but he can't be controlled directly. This isn't as big a change as it sounds, though, since you're still free to give Sonon commands. The trick is to utilise his abilities alongside Yuffie's attacks, creating a rewarding kind of rhythm. What's more, Yuffie is capable of both close quarters and long range combat, making her Remake's most in-depth character gameplay-wise.
At first, wrapping your head around Yuffie's quirks can be a little overwhelming — especially since she starts out at level 25 with a range of materia and abilities already unlocked — but the DLC has a good difficulty curve that gives you time to find your footing. She can also 'synergize' with Sonon, which leads to some extremely flashy special attacks — perfect for landing the finishing blow on a particularly stubborn boss.
As for optional stuff, there are only a couple of side quests to pick up in Episode INTERmission. One sees you hunt down leaflets in and around the Sector 7 slums — which is about as interesting as it sounds — and the other tasks you with mastering the new Fort Condor minigame.
In a similar vein to the collectible card games of past Final Fantasy titles, Fort Condor encourages you to seek out and defeat fellow players while amassing an increasingly powerful deck. In this case, your deck is made up of different Shinra units — cute little polygonal representations of the real thing. In Fort Condor matches, you place your units on a small map in order to both attack your opponent's base and defend your own.
It's rather basic real-time strategy, but it makes for a fun minigame. Different types of units have different strengths and weaknesses, so it's mostly about counteracting your opponent's deployments. Stronger units are more expensive to summon, and while the minigame does start to favour all-out aggression in later matches, there's still enjoyment to be found in tinkering with your squad. With a reasonable understanding of Fort Condor, you can beat just about everyone in an hour or so — but it's a decent distraction.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is the best way to experience the return of Cloud and company. Remake remains a game of ups and downs in terms of quality, but by the time the credits roll, its most memorable moments shine through — of which there are many. Meanwhile, Episode INTERmission won't blow anyone's mind, but it's an enjoyable adventure that slots neatly into the existing story, and fans won't want to miss it.
If anyone's got any questions about the game or the review, let me know.
So there was one part in the ps4 version that looked awful and that was when your above sector 7 towards the end of the game (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). Does that look any better or is it still a jpeg?
Played the original way back in '97 and I so wish I had the enthusiasm to play this version again.
But I don't.
@Danloaded Those big backdrops have all been improved, they're all much higher quality now.
I was in high school when the original released, and the crude but cute character models and the tinny but glorious soundtrack gave it something of the quality of an animated music box. I’m tempted by this, but fear that it would corrupt my memories of automaton Cloud & co.
@ShogunRok what was the total playtime of Intermission for you? Sort of sounds like it’s something that could be played in a lazy afternoon
Please tell me I'm not the only one that died a few times to those two wolves early in Yuffie's story. It feels like the game is pitched more for if you're coming from the base game rather than having not played it in around 13 months.
I was going to quote Spider-Man 3 "You'll get your money when you fix this damn door!!!" but sadly that seems to be the only texture they have fixed...
I’ll probably give it another go. Wasn’t a massive fan on PS4, perhaps the widely-advertised fog upgrades will help hahaha. Really really hope Part 2 is a next-gen exclusive if only for the fact they can stop with the bloody corridors and squeezing through gaps!
@somnambulance My total playtime for the DLC was 6 hours 46 minutes. That includes all of the side stuff I could find (there isn't much).
@nessisonett Playing Intergrade is weird because the load times are non-existent. Loading your game up literally takes a second or less.
But then the game's full of load-masking moments like squeezing through gaps, and being forced to walk. Would imagine that these techniques simply wouldn't be needed on PS5.
Just upgraded my ff7 remake to intergrade version, the 60 fps option is really great
Question: if you’ve already played the PS4 version does the PS5 version automatically pop the trophies are do you have to do those requirements again? Thanks
@ShogunRok so besides the visual upgrades, the main campaign is untouched?
I guess they couldn’t touch the filler in fear of shortening the game for new and returning players…
I knew it would be short since it is 20$ so that's not surprising. If it's at least 2 to 3 hours I think I'll buy it
@Mhoney Yes it will show pop ups for every achievement you got before the upgrade.
@Nepp67 ah that’s a bit of a shame. I’d like to play it all again and get all those trophies again for real.
I’ll probably play it again anyway to be fair.
@Bliquid Yeah, exact same game in terms of content.
@ShogunRok I love the new load times. I love basically jumping right in - I saw some comparison videos and it looks like 9 seconds from system menu to playing the game on PS5 and like 45 seconds from system menu to playing the game on PS4/PS4 Pro.
I was kind of hoping that Square Enix would have revamped those "loading sections" by slightly modifying the scenery a little bit to not squeeze through, but maybe there were some backend reasons these sections still exist that would have required much more rework than we realize.
I don't necessarily mind the slow-walk sections since many times there is story going on at might mess with the pacing of those sections.
Oh well, it is STILL a cross-gen game.
Since the DLC is a PS5 exclusive, does the it have any of the "loading sections" like the base game, or does it take full advantage of the hardware and not need them?
@Mhoney You can get them again but just don't download your save to the ps5 version. Sorry I kinda got that mixed up for ya
@ShogunRok I got the base game free on ps plus, is there a way to purchase the dlc only or do I need to buy the game ? Also, is the mini game Fort Condor essential to progress or can I skip it totally ?
@GamingFan4Lyf Well they did say for the next part they plan to take full advantage of the PS5 so I'm pretty hyped for it.
Definitely looking forward to giving the Yuffie DLC a try in the future. Just too many games right now!
@ShogunRok thanks! Graphics-wise, they they updated lighting and stuff ( textures, frame rate, bells and whistles), but what about the (arguably already impressive) “poly count”?
@ShogunRok If you're upgrading for free from PS4 to PS5 version, is the DLC worth it? Comparing to FFXV DLCs, would you say it's better, about the same or worse?
@GamingFan4Lyf The environmental design in the DLC is generally more open. Nowhere near as many corridors. It's still linear, but Yuffie's got more room to move around.
@AJ1 Unfortunately you need to buy the full game. You can't upgrade the PS Plus version to the PS5 version.
Your best bet right now would be to buy Remake Intergrade on PS5, which comes with the DLC.
Fort Condor is also totally optional — has no bearing on the main story whatsoever.
@ShogunRok Any haptic feedback or adaptive triggers?
@Bliquid Honestly not sure, I don't think the character models, for example, have been tweaked much at all.
@RenanKJ Personally I think it's way better than any of the FFXV DLCs. Much longer, much more in-depth.
@MagicalBarrie There are some very minor uses of the adaptive triggers. When you're Cloud on the bike, for example, the triggers tighten up as you push down, and the haptic feedback rumbles through them. Aside from that, there's nothing I've noticed.
"Brilliant battle system" I completely disagree
dont you get the ps5 version for free if you brought the ps4 version? you just have to buy the dlc
Ugh Yuffies DLC appears to be $20 USD 😑 I'll have a hard time paying that considering she's my least favorite character next to Cait Sith.
@trev666 Yes, if you own Remake on PS4 (not the PS Plus version) you get a free upgrade to Remake Intergrade on PS5. Then you need to buy the DLC to play that.
@ShogunRok Thanks for that, such a shame you don't get to feel the crackle of different materia!
@mariomaster96 I agree. A remake shouldn't change the genre of a game. I was so excited when this was announced and now, after playing it, I'll be skipping preordering the next game for the first time since the original version of 7 launched.
@mariomaster96 What in particular didn’t you like?
I thought they did an excellent job of modernizing turn based combat.
This game is a masterpiece. Cannot wait to play it again and then complete Yuffies story after. Still on Mass Effect 2 though, so I have a little while. Maybe when I get done with these, Ratchet and Clank will be cheaper.
this totally rules, the graphics mode is spectacular, and the yuffie content is great. worth playing through if you enjoyed FF7R on PS4. Lots of interesting hints and teasers at the end for driving anticipation for the next game. Easily worth the 20 in my view. I also maxed out all of the side content and it took about 7 hrs.
@FatalBubbles I think the combination of real-time combat and choosing commands didn't go well together. It always irritated me how I had to interrupt the flow of the battle to choose commands for myself/my party-members. I wouldn't mind if the combat was either fully real-time (like for example Nier Automata) or completely command based (e.g. turn-based like the original) but the combination of both just didn't do it for me.
(And yeah I'm aware you can put 4 spells/attacks/items to one of the four main buttons each so you could use them without needing to go to the commands menu but that wasn't enough to cover every spell/attack/item)
@ShogunRok did you play on Graphics or Performance for the most time?
Also, the photo mode is so bad lol you can't adjust the camera as much as you want and after using Ratchet's mode, you really see how bad it is in FF.
@AFCC Performance mode all the way!
I flicked between performance and graphics every now and then to try and see if I could tell the difference in resolution / visual effects, but the 30fps just isn't worth it. Jump from 60 to 30 that fast, and 30 looks horrific. There's no going back!
And I kind of agree about photo mode. You can still get some really cool shots, but it's such a shame that it feels so limited in terms of movement.
@ShogunRok thanks, I think I'll do performance. I picked RT Performance in Ratchet after all...the smoothness is good, and in FF7 it sure does a lot for the combat.
I agree you can take really good shots but that's just because the game looks incredible! Except for the bad textures here and there of course
@mariomaster96 I gotcha. I thought it was a great blend but I’m sure it’s not for everyone.
@ShogunRok does INTERmission have loading disguised as corridors and elevators like the base game, or it being ps5 exclusive, not have them and take use of the ssd?
So glad I waited to play this on ps5. Just started today. Such nostalgia, I was hesitant that with age I wouldn't love this game again, but I'm already hooked. This is literally the first dip back into jrpg land I've done in long long time.
If you loved the original but have been unmotivated to try the remake, trust me give it a go. Not to keen on them breaking the game up into these episodes, but so far the update is great. Once you go 60fps there is no going back. If it's available it's the way to go.
Makes me wonder under if I should try ff15 after. I have it and never even downloaded it.
Was that one any good?
@ShogunRok just started this game for the first time today, and I agree there is no question performance is the better mode. I noticed zero discernible difference between the two visually on a 65 inch tv.
Nothing beats the buttery smooth 60
@Just_2_milky Nah, the environments in the DLC are a lot more fluid and open. Less narrow corridors linking rooms together and that kind of thing.
@KundaliniRising333 Yeah there are diminishing returns on resolution the closer it gets to 4K. Trying to tell the difference between a game running in native 4K and a game using dynamic 4K, for example, is incredibly difficult with the naked eye.
@hypnotoad owning PS1 IV, V, VI (released with FFX demo) and VII (3 discs) and I have the same sentiment.
I disagree with some of the cons listed (graphics and level design), but great review otherwise!
Started to replay the main game on Thursday, but immediately pushed it to the side soon as I got R&C: Rift Apart.
@ShogunRok 6-7 hours to beat the DLC? At least it's only $20...unlike Rift Apart which was $70+ for 10 hours.
Btw, does INTERmission have a Platinum? I know it has trophies.
@Mhoney If you don't upload/download your PS4 version save data, you can re-earn all the trophies like @Nepp67 confirmed.
@KundaliniRising333 It is a pretty mixed bag, I mean with the updates and DLC they've certainly fixed a lot of parts of the story that felt rushed out the door but I just could not enjoy the game cause of the basic combat being literally hold down one button to attack. Noctis's ultimate certainly changes it from that but the fact that you have to play with the basic combat most of the time just killed it for me. That's why I've enjoyed FF7R so much and why I am super hyped for FF16.
@KidBoruto Nah, no Platinum for the DLC.
@ShogunRok That is unfortunate, but at least there are some trophies!
@hypnotoad I felt the same as you until Sony put it on ps+ then I thought I'd give it a go and totally loved it.
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