While widely considered to be the real turning point in the RPG genre (as it was one of the first mainstream games to eschew castles and princesses), it still gets a bad rap from a lot of detractors of the genre as a whole (not to name names, but we certainly have a few of those here on E2) as a poster child for interactive movies (which is kind of funny, isn't that what RPGs have always been?). Compared to some latter installments in the Final Fantasy series and other offerings from Square, FF7 is actually quite devoid of FMV. What FMVs there were really weren't that spectacular at all. Yeah, this was 1997, but still. The "FF7 is nothing but a mindless FMV-fest" is really not fair. People who say that definitely have not played the game in its entirety. You'll find few people who have who'll still say it sucked.

The story is just excellent. In a lot of games, the story is just stuck in almost as an afterthought, it would seem. The game designers really don't seem to bother with the fact that their game is a medium to tell a story, and that by ignoring that facet of it, they're missing one of the primary means of entertaining people with their game. FF7 has a story that is extremely complex and recurring, with elements of suspense, surprise, mystery, and moral dilemmas. FF7 is often cited as an example of bad translation. That, also, isn't really realistic. The characterization and dialogue are good, but subtle enough that people who are just looking for an excuse to hate the game will find Cloud's frequent "..." or "I don't care" remarks to be frustrating and annoying, but there's a REASON why he acts all cold and detached, his manner certainly changes, at least a little, towards the end of the game.

Secondly, Square knew what they were doing in terms of the gameplay. FF7 is easy, no denying that. For a game that was marketed both to older teenagers who had played the SNES FF games when they were younger, and also to younger gamers who had never picked up an RPG, it had to be easy. At the same time, though, it appeases "old-school" RPG gamers in that you can spend hours totally godifying your party, or mastering the numerous mini-games like Chocobo breeding. With the right combination of materia, you can basically wipe out any enemy in the game in one fell swoop, but you don't really have to be that powerful to just beat the game. There are no special endings, as per series tradition, so just because you didn't want to spend 90 hours playing the game, doesn't mean you'll miss out on the "good ending".

So, to return to the FMV issue: the densest clustering of FMV in FF7 probably happens in the first half hour of so, before the party leaves Midgar. No coincidence that this is the portion of the game that went on the demo disc. Obviously Square wanted this one to sell big-time, and they got their wish. However, I would estimate that, after the party leaves Midgar (about 5 hours, max., into the game), there are maybe 10 more FMVs, total (which doesn't count FMVs used to animate portions of the background, I mean full-screen FMVs). And, there are, at the most superficial level of play, 40 more hours of gameplay left after leaving Midgar. So, 1 FMV every 4 hours? And each FMV no more than 30 seconds long? Really, it's hard to see how that would be the primary selling point for anyone. Even people who were expecting the whole game to look like that probably weren't disappointed at all, once they realized the focus of the game really wasn't the graphics, but the story.