I picked up Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus last week, and that's what I've been playing over this past weekend. I wasn't sure initially that I wanted to play this game, given the negative word of mouth that it's received ever since our gaming press got their grubby mitts on the Japanese release, through to the final domestic release. As an admitted fan of Final Fantasy VII, I decided to brave Midgar once again, to see where developer Square Enix was going to take me.

Many gamers turn their noses up at the thought of all these attempts to capitalize on the Final Fantasy VII brand. Their cynical selves march forth and cry that Square Enix is just another soulless company relying on its old properties. Well, companies like EA does the same thing, and many people like EA's games. I don't hear people saying that EA should go away, or stop making Madden, even though football is always going to be football.

Having spent a bit of time with Dirge, I think I can safely say there are two types of people who it targets: people who are fans of the original FFVII RPG, and gamers not terribly familiar with the shooter genre. This fits me to a "T."

I realize that it's become very popular to hate on Final Fantasy VII, but I maintain my fond memories of that game, and so refuse to be part of the cool hater crowd. I'm also not a fan of the first-person shooter (FPS); the closest I've come to playing those kinds of games is the Metroid Prime series. FPS's just don't appeal to me. Yet I find Dirge to be quite playable. It's not always easy for me, but the fact that there's an auto-target ability helps me a lot. Hardcore Halo fans who can play that game blindfolded will no doubt find Dirge too easy, and not enough of a shooter. But it suits me just fine.

The most significant thing about Dirge of Cerberus, then, is its story. It is a followup to the world of Final Fantasy VII, taking place after Advent Children, and focusing on a badass, optional character from the original game: Vincent Valentine. I had acquired Vincent back in the day, but never used him much. Vincent in this game, however, is — well — badass! If I were to replay FFVII, I'd actually want to give Vincent to try. Even though his Limit Breaks were unpredictable.

So I am playing a game based on a world I like, with a character I didn't previously care about, to follow-up on a story tinged with nostalgia, in a genre I would never have expected to have fun with. *whew* But I'm having a blast, and I'm glad I decided to give Dirge a chance. If you hate FFVII, think Japanese developers suck except for those Grand Turismo guys, and you secretly hope to be the next fatal1ty, then move along; there's a new generic FPS on its way for XBox 360. Otherwise, like me, you might actually enjoy this action-based game. It's, you know, old-fashioned fun.

Stay tuned for more impressions.

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