‘Final Fantasy VII’ isn’t just a classic RPG with fantastic music, an innovative combat and magic system, an intriguing story and memorable characters; it’s a collection of incredible moments that have become hallmarks of the series. Here are five of the best and most memorable scenes from one gaming’s most beloved JRPGs.
The destruction of Sector 7
While there are some great scenes and moments leading up to this, the destruction of Sector 7 is not only intense, but an important part of the story ‘Final Fantasy VII’ tells.
Destroying Sector 7 reveals two very important aspects to the game; firstly, it demonstrates the ends to which Shinra will always go to achieve its goals: Even it means killing off its own citizens.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the destruction of Sector 7 reveals the fragility of order and life in the game. Killing off Biggs, Wedge and Jessie and anyone else who happened to have been stuck in the sector at the time represented the impermanence of life; it also became motivation for the main characters to grow in their hatred for the evils of Shinra.
Sector 7’s destruction is a clear message to the player: Nothing is safe in this world. In many ways, this moment would foreshadow the death and destruction that would follow as the game progresses.
Breaking out of the Shinra building
In a turn based RPG, how do you deliver the thrills of a motorcycle chase? Put the player on a bike and send them flying down the road.
In an almost genre-bending move, perhaps one of the most thrilling moments in ‘Final Fantasy VII’ is the motorcycle sequence and the moments leading up. In a very unexpected move, Cloud and the entire crew grab hold of a truck and a motorcycle, breaking out of the building and onto the street where they eventually escape from Midgar.
If Shinra wouldn’t play by any rules, neither would AVALANCHE. Freeing Aerith and escaping in one of the most risky ways possible, no player could forget having to protect the truck on the motorcycle with nothing more than a sword to hack and slash advancing Shinra troops away.
It's an action/adventure style thrill that few could have expected from an RPG.
Unexpected and utterly heartbreaking are probably the best ways to describe what is perhaps one of the most memorable death scenes in all of gaming. Having a character die is nothing new, especially in the ‘Final Fantasy’ universe, but Aerith’s death represents a unique moment for games.
The death of Aerith is quite likely one of the first times gamers could understand having a resonating emotional response to a game: Creating a new standard for the medium. There was no indication that her life would be at risk; in fact, there was every indication that her character was important to both the plot and the function of the game mechanically.
While no characters in ‘Final Fantasy VII’ have specific classes, Aerith’s function in the party was the closest to a healing class. Her limit breaks undoubtedly saved players more than a few times, especially during harder battles. It would seem logical that the progression of the mechanics of her character would be one that plays a vital role in keeping the party alive: Hence, the need to keep her alive.
Also, the conflicted quasi-love triangle between Cloud, Tifa and Aerith was one that seemed like it needed to be resolved at some point, and certainly not with one of the characters dying.
The death and destruction that runs in this world, the frailness of life, is brought immediately to the player with Aerith’s death.
Cloud’s past revealed
One of the biggest revelations throughout the course of the game is the eventual unraveling of the truth behind who Cloud really is.
While the game drops hints along the way that something isn’t quite right, most players believe Cloud’s story as readily as the character himself does. But as his identity begins to shatter, and the truth revealed, themes of fragility and impermanence come into the light again. Nothing, it seems, can be taken at face value anymore.
The impact of the truth is also felt heavily on Cloud, as it virtually cripples him. Tying in with the world descending into further chaos, the awakening of WEAPON and the descent of meteor looming in the sky, the loss of the main character and the revelation that his whole background doesn’t actually belong to him creates a sense of inevitable defeat.
Cloud reclaims his identity
Rising to the challenge of what was needed to stop Sephiroth from achieving his twisted desires, Cloud discovers what’s worth fighting for and urges the rest of the crew to do so as well in one of the most powerful moments in the game.
Despite the lighter moments, ‘Final Fantasy VII’ is, up until this point, a story with a repeating sense of loss and defeat, contemplating on the feeling of insurmountable odds. Despite all of this, and regardless of learning who he really was, Cloud’s determination to continue forward, fighting an unstoppable force reverses the game’s course of despair into one of hope and triumph: Giving the rest of the team the courage to fight to the very end.