But first - I warn you, spoilers. But then, who cares, the FF7 story can be summed up this way without spoiling the game experience:
1. Super Soldier Babies are grown from petri dishes
3. Zack is totally besties with Super Soldier Baby #2, Meanwhile Super Soldier Baby #1 is feeling lonely and awkward and SSB #3 has chucked a hissy fit
4. SSB #2 and #3 die, leaving SSB #1 confused and angry
5. Zack meets Aerith, there is a lot of cuteness
6. SSB #1 gets mad and throws a tantrum of epic proportions and burns a village down
7. Zack is stuck with the shitstorm aftermath with a derpy blond
8. Zack dies (MASSIVE SPOILER! too bad!)
9. Derpy blond picks up where Zack left off and does a pretty crap job of it
10. Derpy blond fights SSB a few times until the overdose of emo tips over into a semi decent ending. Oh and SSB has like, pretty clones...
11. Vincent - with guns (and mild pedophilia, but only if you squint or are so inclined).
But back to the review. Crisis Core for the PSP.
You play Zack fair, SOLDIER second class, hero aspirant and mentee to SOLDIER second class; Angeal Hewley.
Zack is generally outgoing and funny. He is likeable almost instantly, even though he is relatively thick headed. He is a much more wholesome and generally more fleshed out character than Cloud Strife is and ever was. Be it because of the way Cloud later becomes the main protagonist or Square's weird way of doing things, Zack becomes the legitimate main hero of FF7. The force of his personality, his ease of playability and general awesomeness make Cloud seem like an afterthought that Square created since they couldn't use Zack anymore.
You can tell Zack is a big boy now because he fixed his hair and looks at the sky alot, a sign of maturity.
An interesting feature about the game is the relatively flexible real time combat system.
While on a mission, which you can select by accessing your PHS menu, you are transported to your level and more or less have free reign to run around the area until you start encountering (randomly) monsters for you to kill. From there, you Activate Combat Mode, a seamless transition from running to being locked into a set area for you to fight baddies in. Once in Combat mode you scroll using your L and R wing buttons for your moves which are found on the bottom right of the screen and spam your x button and ocassionaly manouvre away from attacks by rolling with your  button.
The DMV - Zack likes to think dirty thoughts about his friends, it powers him up....Unlike FF7 and other FF combat sytems, Zack does not gain XP to pull off complex moves (i.e. limit breaks) or level up. Rather, the combat system makes use of the DMW (digital Mind Wave). It basically resembles a pokies slot machine that combines the images of different game characters together along with numeric values that will, if combined favourably will determine the strength of your 'limit break' move or whether your character or to a lesser extent, your materia get power ups.
Its not the best system, but you are ensured to level up almost consistently with every battle or mission.
The game progressed on two levels, the story line with its ever so tragic plot and the missions.
Missions were predominatly there for Zack to gain XP, level up and gain new items. It may even be possible to complete the game (if not very slowly) without ever doing missions. I managed to finish the game by postponing the storyline and focusing on missions. By the time I finished the game entirely, Zack was so souped-up on materia and levels that even beating Sephiroth was a walk in the park.
The cutscenes, for when you managed a Summon on the DMV were impressive as hell. Even though you could opt out of watching them, I tended to do so simply to admire the sheer technical excellence in the graphics as a really, really, really souped up and not very viking looking Odin charging down a cliff on a hugely muscular (but overweight looking) Sleipnir and slicing you neatly in half with his not so vikingly named Zantetsuken.
Squeenix has put in a lot of effort into making things look preposterously perfect and pretty. Pity they didn't save some of that effort for the script.
Ok - so... the story... I am hesitant to actually review the story as much as pretty much rant about the sheer emotional damage the story has caused me.
Zack, being the character with which you see the FF7 world through, does have to seem kind of stupid; that way, NPCs can tell him about stuff and you learn through him. But in terms of story telling, it pretty much makes him the biggest idiot ever.
It really, really, sucks because of all the characters in FF7, Zack truly had/has the potential to be the catalyst who could have changed the game forever.
But since this is a prequel, we are pulled along the relentless current of sad events that inevitably lead to Sephiroth's downfall and later, to the death of the most awesome character quare Enix has had the elightenment to make.
Zack has a strong, friendly and mentor/mentee relationship with Angeal, who teaches him the value of honor and valor and is generally a big bro (they even look alike) with a giant sword and the amiability of a teddy bear. He's pretty damn hot for a beefcake too.
Genesis is Angeal's childhood friend (or sweetheart for preference) who is slowly going loopy from reading too much bad literature and a deteriorating disease. He goes missing and basically you're charged with working out what the hell is wrong with this drama queen. I know he is based on Gackt, but that doesnt excuse any of his ridiculous behaviour. I haven o idea why Squeenix though it would be really bool for him to be obsessed with poetry and to be so very pretty to the point where you see that even his lashes have been painstakingly CG-ed as much as his sword was.
Sephiroth is... well.... let me get back to him later.
The story leads to a confuddling tale of lies and secrets that Zack never seems to work out for himself and is compeltely helpless and incapable of preventing the catastrophe that sets everything in motion for the main FF7 game.
Angeal eventually also goes missing in order to help Genesis which also leaves Sephiroth, their supposed best bud, in the dark about their whereabouts and in the dark about all the gruesome discoveries they make about their origins.
So I think, after all this winding about; I have concluded that the whole sad reason why all this preposterous shit happens in the FF7 world is because there are three obviously tough maley male guys who are unable to communicate with each other. That's it.
Here is how the story should have gone:
Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth are having one of those 'friend' moments where they're just standing about gazing into the distance or looking pensive while Genesis blabs really, really bad poetry (written by some weirdo in the accouns department of Squeenix i bet).
Genesis: hey guys, I've been feeling a bit weird lately, the goddess has totally dumped me and all i feel is suffering, gloom and doom - but nothing shall forestall my return and such...
Angeal: I shall find a way to help you, because my honor dictates it so. But also cause I've been feeling a bit weird too.
Sephiroth: I'm pretty awesome, and pretty smart, and pretty. But i havent been feeling weird, can I halp?
Genesis: Damnit, yes.
Angeal: yes, because you are our friend.
Sephiroth: Really? you're my friends?
Genesis: Duh, you socially inept yet lonely and shy beefcake. In fact, my feelings of rivalry towards you are fueled by my admiration and somewhat latent homosexual attraction to you.
Angeal: and you have a big sword, like me and Gen, dudes gotta stick together when you have big swords.
Sephiroth: I AM LOVED!!!! life is not so gloomy after all...
and they all lived happily ever after, well, after they worked out that Hollander and Hojo pretty much are a bunch of evil twats and killed them, but only after fixing Genesis and Angeal.
Then the sequel could have gone like this:
Genesis: Hey Seph, turns out Hojo and your mum, who is actually a human and not Jenova were complete asshat parents to you and experimented on you with the DNA of a freaky alien. But that's cool cause now you have silver hair and that makes you totally hot.
Angeal: that was dishonourable, would you like a hug?
Sephiroth: I'VE NEVER BEEN HUGGED BEFORE *cue emotional music*
Zack: Yeeeeeeeeey look what I found *holds Cloud Strife up for inspection*
Genesis: awww, he's just precious.
Angeal: my honour fails me, he is cute, i want to do stuff to him involving warm hugs and possibly hot chocolate.
Sephiroth: i have these strange unfamiliar feelings of soft, numminess - I feel awkward.
And yeah.... that last part may have been my imagination.
But my point is. Things could have gone way better if Zack had properly applied himself or rather, if Squeenix had really made Zack the hero of the whole franchise.
Instead we sit there thinking - 'Noooooo, Zack! Do something, you can do it!' but Zack never does.
The story is the world's worst trainwreck, and we are made to endure every second of it because Zack is pretty funky when he does his twister assault.
The only bright spots in the plot are his meeting with Aerith and Cloud for the first time (including extremely good soundtrack music).
Aerith wasn't really my fave character, she seemed very 'meh' to me in the original game. I preferred Tifa at the time. But Crisis Core put her in perspective for me and finally, after watching all these fanboys try, and try again to save sweet Aerith in FF7 from her inevitable doom, I now know why.
They were in love; and now, so am I.
Aerith is so sweet, from her voice, to her CG animation to everything. She is not clyingly sweet, nor is she pathetic. She's just this wonderful little thing that you have the good luck of stumbling over and have in your life.
I was nearly in tears by the end of the game when Zack's receives her letter, telling him she had written around 80 more for him to read.
Cloud is so cute. Its ridiculous, I was grinning like an idiot when he first appeared. He was smiling and laughing and was generally goofy and adorable and I was like; this weak streak of piss is way better than the Emo streak of piss he ends up becoming, but at least he can breed chocobos.
This game was emotionally heavy. If it could get an Oscar for best drama, the last 20 minutes of the game would have been the winning scene.
I was also touched by Zack's emotional fragility as the game progressed. It was really painful to see him crying his eyes out after Angeal's death.
By the final showdown - I was bawling. Really - I was sobbing loudly and blubbering through my nose in those final moments of the game. I remained subdued for the rest of the night after finishing the game; quiet and morose until I went to sleep, hoping it was some sort of a bad dream.
Yeah, so... can you tell this is my favourite Final Fantasy? Can you see why this entry is really really long??
The odd thing about this game is Sephiroth. And this is where my brows and panties get all bunched up because while it gives a background to one of gaming's greatest villains, it also leaves me extremely unsatisfied with regards to his personality.
Crisis Core-Sephiroth is genuinely nice. He is awkward, not good at socialising, but he clearly is somewhat caring, as seen from the time he felt bad that he couldnt help Genesis. He loses weight with worry over Angeal and Genesis, and Angeal notices. He hates Hojo and thinks Zack is an ok guy. He's a bit of a loser, but he's actually nice.
So that just makes watching him go bananas and pretty much go killy billy on everything that much harder. And makes the tragedy deeper.
Sephiroth could have been helped, but the people who he considered his friends totally abandoned him, and Zack was pretty lame at cheering him up.
Square Eenix ought to be sued for this traumatising game.
I have already drawn up a Statement of Claim for emotional damages; in it I demand the following things:
I may add more to the list, and you can all feel free to add something. I have a really good lawyer and i am feeling pretty good about the Court case. I have plenty of evidence and about a terrabyte of fanfiction to prove my case.