Time After Time

It’s been a really hot minute since I’ve actually sat down and typed out something on this site, and there’s been huge updates!

I guess first and foremost I should tell you all that writing for Lord of Poison is…going…which is about as good as I can give you for now since it’s a huge undertaking considering the subject matter. So there’s your update on that.

Next I guess I should tell you all that I’m co-hosting a podcast! Yeah! It was that or get really into making sourdoughs. But yeah, I co-host PodNerds with friend and Twitch streamer Jean the Bohemianmage! You can find the podcast on Spotify, ListenNotes, TapTapes, SoundCloud, and Apple Podcasts! Allegedly we’re on Google Podcasts too, but I haven’t been able to find the feed. But yeah, PodNerds is all about discussing movies, tv, anime, and video-games, so I hope y’all enjoy that!

PodNerds: Podcast news for podcast nerds.

Finally, SaS Con 2021 is happening and I’m (again) a special guest along with fantastic authors like Matt Adcock and Anna Mocikat and many more (and not just we authors either)! The con is February 27th & 28th and there’ll be giveaways, contests, talent shows, karaoke, and a whole mess of fun and engaging panels and workshops! Also, ITS TOTALLY FREE ON DISCORD! All you gotta do is download the free Discord client either on your phone or computer (or both) and click here to join SaS Con 2021!

February 27th @ 6PM PST

So that’s kinda it for now! I know it’s been some months since I’ve checked in with so many of you, and I’m really sorry! If you wanna catch up or listen to me blather on come see me at SaS Con February 27th at 6PM PST, or you can always harass me on Twitter @ NHWWrites (my handle changed because that’s a whole other stupid thing)!

Cheers – NHW

Avengers, uninstall!

UPDATE: This review has been updated to reflect my time playing the post A-Day content and will contradict my initial thoughts on the targeting system along with the other content presented. There are no new screencaps since I didn’t feel like doing more.

* = sections that contradict my later findings

So, let’s talk about the new Avengers demo: Don’t waste your console’s space.

Cap apparently turns red when he throws his shield because…reasons…

Harsh? Probably, but this game is not good even if it’s just a demo.

Let’s just start off with the meat & potatoes, this game is rough to play and I downloaded it on my PS4. The controls feel like you’re fighting to move the sticks through water, like it’s all too flow-y. Nothing snaps into place, not even the *targeting which makes combat feel totally unnatural despite Crystal Dynamics claim that combat was to feel fluid.* While you’re combo-ing one of the generic baddies, who die in 3 hits anyway, you don’t stop the combo once they’re down or just finish the combo on the next enemy; you literally finish out the combo on the ground or air with nothing to be hit. Where’s the promised fluidity? The Arkham series was able to execute this on the last-gen, so it seems a tad absurd that combat works about as good as high-end PS2 games.

*Target locking in this game makes zero sense since it doesn’t snap you on the target, nor do you fire in their direction or melee. You essentially have to be near them for that to happen. The only instances I’d seen of target snapping was during scripted events, like when Hulk throws part of a tank at another tank.*

The Incredible Bulk. Just look at that grimace.

As you enter the mission you take control of Thor (I didn’t realize there was a picture mode until I got to Hulk and thus didn’t take screencaps of his section). His voice acting is top-tier cringe, not gonna lie. His mechanics aren’t too terrible considering the rest of the characters, and his character model isn’t all that bad either. My biggest issue with Thor is his hammer throw mechanic.

Even if you’re locked on You still need to move your stick to aim at the target, and to top it all off you need to press another button to recall Mjolnir, which also makes zero sense because once you start hitting your light or heavy attack buttons it just comes back to you anyway. All-in-all the Thor section wasn’t bad all things considered.

The camera Mode option is a nice touch, but it doesn’t help the graphics are sub-par for a current-gen game.

Next up you seamlessly take control of Iron Man coming from a minor cutscene introduction. You’re instantly thrown into a flight combat scenario which plays a lot like Superman 64 but on rails. You just weave around the scene that doesn’t really interact with you as you try to use your hand blaster to take down jetpack enemies who really pose no significant threat, and their elimination awards nothing. Just you swatting flies basically.

Just like with Thor the targeting does absolutely zero here which feels like a big missed opportunity since moving your reticle over each enemy to hit them just feels like a chore despite having sensitivity set to high. Much like with Thor, Tony’s voice acting is just not good, but at least his suit looks nice?

I really wanted to like his section more, but even after the rail shooter section and you finally can take control of him it’s a bit wonky. His melee combat isn’t good, and the only energy blast you can use is the hand blaster which, just like with Thor and Black Widow, require you to hold L2 and fire with R2.

With Iron Man, they should have made his quick blasts just instant with R2 rather than forcing you to use L2. His charging blast isn’t bad, and I can justify the L2 mechanic for that. His chest beam ability is cool but sadly only lasts just around 3 seconds and aiming is slower. I think if they’d nerfed it’s damage output and increased its time and aim speed it’d be a better ability. Notable Mention: Why are his wrist rockets and shoulder mounts missing? Maybe they come later on, but in the demo all we had was hand blasts, chest beam, and melee. A bit underwhelming, honestly.

Look at these PS3 graphics…

Now we’re at one of the hyped moments: The Hulk.

The Hulk is probably the worst offender when it comes to gameplay, character model, and voice acting. Not that he’s the worst in all of those categories, but he has no redeeming qualities. When he’s Bruce the model and acting are the best, but somehow it’s all thrown out the window when he turns. The first thing you’re taught as him is his grab mechanic. Close to a foot-soldier? Hold Square (PS4) and he’ll snatch up a little army man and you can start flinging them around because Crystal Dynamics knew MCU fans would collectively cum their pants seeing this.

Sadly when Hulk snatches up one of these baddies the collision detection is nearly non-existent, so if you’re looking to score a screencap of the green guy about to smash some dude into the ground you’ll be disappointed to see that Hulk’s hand isn’t even actually wrapped around the enemy’s leg and is instead just sort of hovering around or near it.

Hulk’s section, much like with Iron Man’s opening section, felt like you were on rails. You only get to sprint forward and occasionally slam your fists into the ground around enemies. The few cool moments were 100% scripted completely taking me out of the immersion (well, what little immersion there was).

The action would suddenly stop and a prompt appeared telling me I needed to perform Hulk’s “Thunderclap” ability, which looked…alright? The most glaring flaws of his character model popped up during his abilities, which you’d think that’s when you’d want everything to look clean. I think why the Hulk is so disappointing to play as is because it’s not hard to get the Hulk right yet Crystal Dynamics just dropped the ball here entirely.

Captain Disappointment

I know this entire post is just me shitting on Avengers, but I mean…look at what they did to Cap.

Cap’s gameplay is probably the best in this demo.

How do you go from watching Chris Evans essentially fuck your eyes with a perfect portrayal of the All-American Avenger to seeing this monstrosity in a flak jacket and motorcycle helmet? Gameplay-wise he’s actually pretty decent, especially that shield throw special and even his ultimate move I felt were really great. Then you’re reminded of just how little effort the developers made when making his model, and you can hear the voice actor’s disdain for even having to follow up Evans’ role.

Taking over as Cap felt like the first time I got to switch to Tifa in Final Fantasy VII: Remake, it was fast-paced and exciting, but unfortunately the opening section with him was all too short on top of having to cringe at the acting and model. Outside of the acting and model I will say the flipping-over-enemy-backs mechanic isn’t well done.

This is our cinematic introduction to Black Widow and her fight against Taskmaster

Black Widow: They did her dirty.

The model is the worst looking one in the entire game. It’s almost as if the developers had never seen a woman before. Gameplay for her should have been better than this, honestly. She’s got tons of gadgets at her disposal…allegedly, but we’re mealpieced what she can and can’t do depending on the phase of the fight. Her dual-wielding pistols were probably the worst aspect of her gameplay, and honestly, just long-range fighting overall in this game is just fucking awful. Her shooting works just like the original Tomb Raider’s on PS1, it’s clunky and deals little to no damage but leaves you wide open to attacks.

This game comes out next month, by the way.

The overall fight against Taskmaster comes out of nowhere and is totally forced from a narrative perspective. He has simple and predictable moves making his fight easy until you’re forced into using a grappling hook mechanic you’ve just seen a prompt for. It’s at this point the fight just turns annoying since the mechanic isn’t well done. You have to wait for a blue icon to appear to pull it off successfully, but even then you’re supposed to fling him into some proximity mines he’s dropped to deal damage since he just now automatically dodges all of your attacks, and if you go to shoot he just instantly shield rushes you. So it’s an easy fight that just turns annoying at the drop of a dime and tries to shoehorn a new mechanic in order to actually fight him.

Replace Taskmaster with a velociraptor and you’ve got Tomb Raider on PS1

Overall my time with Avengers was met with confusion, disappointment, irritation, and just an overall sense that Crystal Dynamics and Marvel were really just wanting to cash in with the Avengers MCU lineup before their film franchise changes forever. The announcement of PS4’s Spider-Man as a console exclusive won’t save this from players hating the game. The fact that Square-Enix is publishing such a trash title would be surprising if they weren’t already a hit-or-miss studio. Final Fantasy VII: Remake saved them, and the future of the studio will be secured if they avoid making more games like Avengers.

Me too, Black Widow. Me too…

Post A-Day

After having written my initial review, the rest of the content had finally finished installing. So the review above is just my opinion on the A-Day mission (first mission) and the rest of this will be about everything after, or at least what I played.

First off when I saw I’d get to play as Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) I was a little excited since the other characters had really put me off the entire game. The mission that introduces Kamala involves her and the Hulk walking through a forest and we take control of the Hulk as we fight some generic bots and get introduced to Hulk’s throwing large chunks of earth mechanic because we now have to fight a thing that can teleport. Once we get to a certain point and find an old Avengers compound and go inside we take control of Kamala.

Trying to move her around is entirely too awkward, it’s like when you turn a direction she swings her whole body that way. Any sort of precision movement was disregarded because any movement takes up too much time. Just like with any other character with hair or things flowing off them it just looks awful with her too. When you motion her to face one way her hair and sash violently fling the opposite way and then harshly snap back into place as she awkwardly stops.

This issue is accentuated due to the fact that you’re constantly fighting against the camera when you’re inside buildings. Which leads into my next point: The camera inside buildings, even if it’s a bigger room, is atrocious. You’re constantly fighting it to see what’s around you to explore, and it’s even worse when there’s combat or action happening. When you’re in the field it isn’t bad, the camera naturally goes into a higher position and gives you a better look of the area, but heaven forbid you go anywhere near a building.

During her section deep inside the compound you’re tasked with platforming around a small area to flip switches and fight a wave or two of enemies. Entirely too predictable. Top this off with learning a mechanic of hers that I know was shoehorned in because they wanted Spider-Man, and the whole thing just becomes a little boring. You get a prompt letting you know Ms. Marvel needs to use her arms to stretch out and swing from hanging lights, which you know is what they’ll have for Spider-Man leading me to believe he’ll just be using the same mechanics as her, but instead of stretching arms to hit or swing he’ll be using webs.

After a very brief section where you sort of get to know her mechanics and fighting style Abomination suddenly appears from literally nowhere and demands Jarvis’ drive when out of also nowhere the Hulk tackles him and a fight ensues. The fight has you in an arena with electric stacks that you can use to stun Abomination, so nothing new here. The fight is brief and easy, as predicted. To be honest all of the times I’ve “died” has just been from falling off the map, which seems like a thing they’d not do.

The combat with Ms. Marvel isn’t terrible, she has close range and long range combos, and you know you’ll play as her for the bulk of the early sections of the game just because the game basically gifts you tons of gear for her each one better than the last. The voice acting for Kamala is by far the best, you can hear all the emotion and her lines come out clear, and thankfully they aren’t nearly as cringe-y as everyone else with stupid one-liners or just awkward dialogue. There was a particular scene where Bruce shows Kamala her new room aboard a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier and she’s clearly distraught, but for some reason Bruce is just super awkward and the entire convo is just one gigantic cringe.

I will correct myself regarding one of my issues from A-Day: Targeting.

*In my initial playthrough I couldn’t get the camera to snap to targeted enemies which made combat just feel like a chore, well, playing as Kamala I finally got to experience it. Targeting does snap to the enemy which was a pleasant surprise since I’d had such a hard time with it during the A-Day mission. But just to confirm my original review I’d asked a friend if they could get it to snap during the A-Day mission, and he too had a terrible time with it. Thankfully during these Kamala missions I could snap to the enemy and even cycle through them, aiming at them as Kamala wasn’t an issue either. But for some reason when targeting as Hulk and using his rock-throw ability still requires you actually take aim since the reticle changes to look like the type for a grenade launcher on Call of Duty or other FPS’.*

Matchmaking: A total nightmare.

When I finally got to be paired with another player I noticed that assets loaded much slower than you’d like which leads me to believe that it’s locally hosted instead of through dedicated servers. My compatriot would constantly just blink out of existence as we fought what few enemies were around. No joke. We were playing a wintery tundra mission, and the enemies never appeared until we got pretty far into the level. We’d spent a good 5 or so minutes just running around a massive map collecting resources before I said “fuck it” and just ran towards the goal.

The fight that ensued was just tedious since it required one of us to stick around on a circular plate as Jarvis uploaded something which reminded me of the entirely too many missions in Destiny and Destiny 2 where your Ghost needs to upload or link and you have to protect. Once the link is finished you have to dispose of the remaining bots and make your way through an elevator. During these loading screens, because that’s what they are, there are brief moments of conversation which tries to add depth to the characters, but since its you and Hulk the convo is fairly one-sided.

We made our way to the bottom and as I exited I realized the player Hulk was just standing there doing nothing. I made a lot of noise around them smashing into walls etc hoping to get their attention, but they just stood there doing nothing. Wanting to just get this over with I decided to continue on my own. The first half of this stage is just you running around collecting resources and gear until you reach a stairwell that leads you into what will obviously be a large brawl.

My player Hulk was still MIA in the elevator and I proceeded without him, and I made my way into the a back room where tons of chests with gear and resources just laid around and suddenly the Hulk player appeared and started looting. We then get thrown into a cutscene just before the big fight involving yet another “Jarvis needs to upload so you gotta protect” mission. But this time the player Hulk was present and actually fighting, so I’m not too sure what had happened here.

The fight itself was straightforward, fight the waves as Jarvis does their thing, and when it’s over you get whisked away into a jet where you either leave the party and go back to your own instanced carrier, continue on your own, or stay in the party and continue the mission line. I opted to leave after this and explore a bit of the carrier more when I learned of the HARM room, which is basically the Danger Room from X-Men where you fight holographic enemies in waves.

Overall I’ll say that my initial reaction to Avengers, with some minor changes in opinion based on later levels, is still my current reaction. The game wants to be Ultimate Alliance with a mix of Borderlands. But where these games succeed, especially in the parts that really matter, Avengers bellyflops. Some background assets looked fantastic, especially during the A-Day sequence, and the forest level was a hit-or-miss with this, but the frozen tundra was just a total mess with the assets. I don’t know if it was scaled down due to the co-op, or because it’s just to test the level, or that’s really just what it is.

I really wanted to like my time playing this, but each section in every level just left me confused and irritated. To make this a current-gen, or even the eventual nex-gen, Crystal Dynamics would do well to postpone the release and actually fix these issues. Halo: Infinite got pushed to next year to ensure quality after their demo received many complaints, so it’s crazy to think Square-Enix is so dedicated to releasing such an unfinished mess of a title.

As a community, we gamers need to do better too. We need to stop accepting sub-par games with promises of patches and fixes later on. We’re spending hard-earned money on full releases only to be met with trash. A recent example of this would be my issues with the new PS4 and Steam game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. It’s a fun mini-game based party title, and it’s fun for sure, but it does have some glaring issues. I had recently voiced my opinion regarding those issues and one Twitter user happily reminded me that the game is only a couple of weeks old and thus doesn’t deserve to be complained about.

This is why we keep getting shit-tier games, because these developers and publishers know that we’ll accept it under the promise that it could or might be fixed at a later date. I know that will happen with Avengers, and it’s sad because this really could have been a great Day 1 game.

But just like with the many looter-type games that came before we’ll have to wait upwards of 1 year to see something unbroken (Unless you’re Anthem and just don’t fix your problems).

Avengers, uninstall!

I Went Back To Midgar And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

The Feed From Geek Mountain

So I was recently on the podcast The Feed From Geek Mountain hosted by ShoryukenPizza (my old roommate from Chicago) and Jacuuzi to plug my book XENOCHRIST (please buy my book) and talk some shit while also having a 2 hour long discussion about one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy VII: Remake and how it lives up to the OG game (I mean…have you seen the OG?)

This was impressive in 1997, ok?!

Now, I’m sure y’all are wondering (no you’re not) why I wanted to even do this aside from trying to rope people into purchasing my book (please buy my book) considering I’ve already talked about FF7:R a few months back. Well, it’s such an interesting and fun game that I felt compelled to defend it against ShoryukenPizza’s shit take on it, because I watched him play for about an hour and let me tell you he’s garbage at it. All seriousness aside (that’s all a joke, don’t worry Shoryuken ily ❤ ) he had some valid points to make, but thankfully I have even more valid points which desperately needed saying. Anyway, if you’d like to hear my 2 hour diatribe you can find it here.

When will my reflection show who I am inside?

Their podcasts aren’t typically that long, but I’m thankful they entertained my incoherent babbling. If you’d like to support these awesome dudes and their love of anime and gaming you can find them on Twitch and Facebook where they stream live, and you can get updates over on their Instagram too!

Cheers – NHW

The Midgar Blues

This is a review of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, but I’ll be writing a non-spoiler { NON-SPOILER } take followed by the spoiler review. So when you see { SPOILER } and you haven’t finished the game that’ll be your chance to leave this post.

I’d look worse if I ran up 59 flights.


In the summer of 1998 one of my brothers got Final Fantasy VII for PC. Yes, you read that right, PC. Ironically it was released on my birthday in 1998, but it was Jimmy who got it later that summer. Despite this injustice, a game we had…and then it ruined our family computer…a number of times…because this was 1998 and that little Dell computer tried its hardest to give us what we wanted: MOTHER FUCKIN’ FINAL GODDAMN FANTASY VII! *eventually we got the PlayStation version which we played the hell out of*

Yes, I was serious about the PC port.

Sitting in the basement with Jimmy playing this game, and in a more real sense, watching him play it, has always been a fond memory. Back then we played all sorts of what I consider to be the Golden Age of JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) like Legend of Legaia, Wild ARMs, Tales of Destiny, Chrono Cross, you get the point. We played these all day every day filling multiple memory cards on that old PlayStation, not least among them was Final Fantasy VII, but I digress.

After many years of waiting, an E3 presentation showing off the PlayStation 3’s graphics featuring the opening sequence which at the time they should have known would have started an uproar of a remake, more waiting, a 2015 trailer with the official announcement, and 5 more years of waiting…*phew*…we fuckin’ got it. We finally got the goddamn game…and it is glorious. This isn’t just the ramblings of a giddy man-child, this is a love letter.

A love letter to the slums of Midgar

Final Fantasy VII: Remake plays like a dream in all the right ways while giving us the essence of the beloved original. There are a few hiccups throughout, sure, things that can easily be overlooked, like there’s some poorly rendered pieces here and there. What this game gets right it fucking gets right. The combat is so fluid even when time slows when selecting an action with the new ATB system. I truly believe this will forever change the way modern RPGs will play, this new system is truly a work of art and the learning curve is within the first chapter of the game.

However beautiful and fully realized the game is, as I said before, there are some issues within. The weapon leveling system is a little bit of a headache. Sure, it’s straightforward and does allow for auto-spending your SP (weapon points) on the various skills, but it just becomes tedious over time and halts everything for you to go through each character because everyone gains SP for each weapon at the same time. So before you know it you’ve got a stack of SP for each weapon for each character each requiring a new menu filled with a submenu to unlock things like higher Attack, or Speed, or linked Materia.

Speaking of, Materia is such a fantastic system. It was in the original and is also present in the remake. Materia are special orbs made by the planet imbued with magical powers like lightening, healing, or summon a Fat Chocobo to bounce and roll around dealing devastating damage to any foe unlucky enough to go against a giant fat yellow bird-thing.

It really is a giant fat yellow bird-thing.

Materia levels up on its own when attached to equipment, but this means any Materia sitting in your inventory won’t see any of those tasty AP points, but the trade off is Materia levels itself up and automatically gives you the newly acquired skills. Fire becomes Fira which then becomes Firaga, each more powerful than the other, same goes for HP Up Materia increasing your Hit Points in percentages so the higher leveled the Materia the stronger it becomes. Now, there are *some* issues with Materia. First, it’s difficult to acquire. You find them naturally throughout the game, and the more interesting and powerful are that much more difficult to find in the world. This leads to the second issue with Materia, it is expensive as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Any shop in the game that sells this stuff want thousands of Gil (game-world currency) for something as simple as Fire, I think about 2000 Gil for a simple non-leveled Fire Materia. It feels like a lot considering money isn’t just thrown at you in this game, so you have to consider what you spend your cash on, and Materia ain’t one of them. Thankfully when taking part of the Intel Reports Chadley will sell you the specific Materia for 100-200 Gil, but for only one of the specific Materia tied to the Intel Report. So for the love of everything, keep your Materia. Don’t sell it. Don’t buy it.

My final issue is the pacing of the game. At times it’s super fast-paced and exhilarating, but it will halt just as quick. Stopping for cinematics never bothered me, I expect that in a game like this, but when the gameplay also just grinds to a halt? When these moments happen it really removes you from the game, because now you’re just aimlessly walking around completing mostly arbitrary side-quests. Some are really fun, especially towards the end, but about 60% of those earlier ones were just boring filler. The side quests could have been so much more, things that expanded on lore, or involved the plot a lot more, but there was one where you have to walk around and find a little kid’s cat. It’s *meh*, not bad per se, but it does take you out of the sense of the game. This is most apparent when the story says “we must do this now because it’s urgent and time sensitive” but in reality it isn’t any of those things when there’s 8 side quests that tack on another three hours of gameplay. The side quests overall are great though, so don’t let that detract from the experience too much.

Sweet glorious distractions

I put about 42 hours into it thus far, and you also have the option to replay the entire game or just individual chapters for those of you who missed out on some items or trophies. I will be revisiting Midgar soon, that’s for certain.

All in all I highly recommend Final Fantasy VII: Remake, it was well worth the waiting for this experience.


Final Fantasy VII: Remake is a gorgeous masterpiece. Truly it is. From the new story additions, and yes even the changes, this game hits on so many levels.

The story doesn’t deviate too much from the original, but that’s where this game really sets itself apart from its source. To remind us all of these deviations we’re introduced to entities called Whispers. These Whispers pop up every so often to ensure that the plot of the original game stays the same, but there are times when Cloud and co. are able to drive them off and alter things. This is more apparent when we get to the Sector 7 plate support beam’s destruction. In the OG this is where AVALANCHE’s Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie die trying to stop Shinra from destroying the support beam and dropping the upper plate on top of the Sector 7 slums, home of Barrett’s AVALANCHE, but in Remake Wedge survives the fall from the beam, Biggs survives…well…that whole thing dropping on his fucking head, but Jessie, as far as we can tell, is dead as should be.

Inside Shinra HQ

The fun additions to the three’s stories and lives brought a freshness to the lore of VII, and it’s nice seeing fleshed out characters residing in Midgar. The rest of the game plays out fairly the same, the reactors are blown up but with the twist that Shinra was allowing them to do it and even helped them. The Whispers pop up here and there to ensure characters like Hojo aren’t on the other end of Cloud’s gigantic sword, that isn’t a euphemism.

Getting those Midgard Blues thinking about killing Hojo

The real change, the biggest change, comes from the final couple of hours of the game when you finally reach the top of Shinra’s tower. You’re met with President Shinra who is about to fall off like in the OG, but then when Barrett escorts the man in he’s suddenly met face to face with Sephiroth. The man takes one look at Barrett and runs his massive sword, Masamune, through Barrett. No, it’s not a euphemism.

FF VII loves massive swords. From the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Barrett slumps over and is seemingly dead as the Whispers surround his body, and Sephiroth transforms into Jenova (It’d take too long to even explain what she is and why this is weird) and now Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith supported by Red XIII who isn’t a playable character in this game have to fight the tentacled monstrosity which deviates from the OG. After you defeat it it turns into one of the numbered experiments you met earlier in the game and who appear in the OG trying to do “reunion” and Sephiroth appears and carries him off. Barrett is resurrected by the Whispers and Cloud runs off to see where Sephiroth is going and is met with some SOLDIERs and Rufus Shinra, the VP of Shinra and son of the now dead president making Rufus the de-facto world leader.

About to fight Rufus Shinra

This fight is only between Cloud and Rufus and did happen in the OG. Rufus escapes via helicopter as the rest of the team attempt to escape via elevator. The team are greeted by a still living Wedge who communicates with them via FaceTime or whatever it is about escaping Shinra HQ, but then the elevator carrying the team is attacked and begins to plummet to the ground. They’re saved by the Whispers from sudden death, but Wedge is carried off as the screen goes black and the sound of glass shattering is heard as Wedge thinks if he made a difference. His fate is still unknown, but I’m assuming he’s dead just as the Whispers tried doing back when the plate fell and to keep in the timeline of the OG.

The elevator group are met by the elevator boss from the OG only this time it’s in a large room, and plays out a lot like the scorpion mech fight from the first bombing mission. After this it’s on to the motorcycle chase on the highway that plays out like the OG, only this time the boss is fought only on the highway and not at the end of it.

It’s the same truck from the OG

Once you’ve reached the end you’re face to face with Sephiroth who talks about destiny and wanting it changed and opens a portal. Cloud and co. go in and you have to fight several mini-bosses all tied to the Whisper arbiter which apparently means Remake can now safely deviate completely from the OG.

A fight with Sephiroth happens and slowly each team member shows up to help Cloud out, and after the fight Cloud and Sephiroth are standing in some weird dimension as Sephiroth explains that they can now change their destiny as another scene of Zack carrying Cloud plays, only instead of collapsing and dying like in the OG he survives.

The game’s story makes it abundantly clear that they want to deviate from the OG plot, but maybe the Whispers represent the lore’s gatekeepers who refuse to accept the changes, and undoubtedly have been screeching on the internet about how this game “ruins” the OG game since launch. When you play this game you need to go into it with the thought of this being its own thing, we can’t hold this game up to the past with all its horrific polygons that makes it look like the entire planet has some sort Popeye arm deformity, and chip tunes that would give anyone a migraine today. Final Fantasy VII: Remake is its own game that pays homage to the source material, but we need to remember that it is a different game, which it needs to remain otherwise we’ll continue to be disappointed by a brand new game that’s being unfairly compared to something from 1997.

Yup, this is the superior game.
This is the Switch “remastered” edition.

What this means for the future of the VII franchise who knows, but I’m excited to see what further changes they make, and reconnect with a familiar world and characters.

The gang is all here, or at least the gang so far.