Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade (PC) Review

Most gamers know that 1997’s Final Fantasy VII was, and remains, a high water mark for the series. From its cast of characters to its story, from its music to its combat, it engaged on every level. After years of teasing it, Square Enix released the Final Fantasy Remake for PlayStation 4 in 2020. It appeared in 2021 on the PS5 as Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, and now it is available on PC.

The Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of the most successful updates of all time. Even on the PS4, it looked amazing. Some textures were still a little low res, but character models looked incredible. The musical score was entirely re-recorded. Characters were re-voiced, the story was more fully realized and there were new plot points. The Remake included a new battle system cribbed from later games. In its new incarnation, the game became the best entry into the world of Final Fantasy.

Free for owners of the PS4 version, the Intergrade update for PS5 doubled down on the good. It bumped up texture resolution, lighting effects, cut load times, and added new modes and control options. Maybe best of all, it included a two-chapter character arc DLC for Yuffie Kisagari called INTERmission. Although not free, the INTERmission DLC was a delightful, but short, add-on.

Port to PC

Final Fantasy VII focuses on Cloud Strife. He’s a former member of the elite SOLDIER unit of the Shinra corporation. Cloud now works as a mercenary for Avalanche, an eco-terrorist group set on bringing down the planet-ravishing Shinra. Cloud is troubled by visions of Sephiroth, a former war hero. The story has a wide range of appealing characters, locations and lots of interesting twists and turns. It feels longer than absolutely necessary, too, but it’s still a remarkable journey. It’s also only the first part of a longer game and narrative.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Aerith art

On paper, at least, the PC port sounds like a winner. It includes the base game, the INTERmission DLC storyline that stars Yuffie, all of the DLC content from the base game, and the DLC for INTERmission. The PC version has all of the content released for FF7 Remake so far. Available only on the Epic game store, the PC version is $70. There have been complaints that this is too high a price for a “two-year-old PS4 game,” but it is in line with what PS5 players would pay if they didn’t already own the PS4 version.

The Controversy

While I strive to write reviews independent of what anyone else thinks, I’m getting to this game several days after release. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of hard-to-avoid negative press about the PC version’s performance and lack of graphics options. Some of the criticisms are deserved, some are ridiculously over-hyped. Some are simply not accurate.

It is true that, compared to many recent PC games, options for tweaking graphics performance are limited. Although you can select one of four framerate targets (30-120), there is no variable framerate option, no control over anti-aliasing, or effects like motion blur. The port also doesn’t let you control resolution scaling. However, the claim that the PC port offers fewer graphics options than the console version is not true. The PS5 version of FF7 Remake only had Quality and Performance mode options, and brightness levels.

I ran the game on an i7 with a GeForce RTX 2080 TI, a pretty average-level configuration. With all settings cranked up to high, there were some consistent framerate stutters at 60fps. Making some adjustments to shadow quality helped. Oddly, I had fewer stutters at 90 fps, even with textures on the highest setting. The framerate drops definitely impacted the experience, but I was able to adjust performance to minimize them, although not entirely kill them.

Square Enix Cafe

Very subjectively, though, Final Fantasy VII looks better on PC. Textures are sharper and colors are richer. The lower resolution textures in the slums aren’t magically improved, but the outstanding art direction and world-building are still impressive. Flipping back to the PS5, the console version seemed a bit muted and less detailed in comparison.

Of course, the PC port offers the ability to play the game with mouse and keyboard. Why anyone would want to is a mystery, though. It is clearly designed for a controller.

It’s Complicated

Let’s try to separate the negative hype from the truth. Square Enix seemingly cut some corners with this port, either by not maximizing performance and/or failing to include some expected options. There are some framerate stutters, but these might be dependent on settings and hardware. If they’re a software issue, they’ll most likely be patched. Even with everything dialed back, it runs and looks at least as good as the PS4 version. That’s maybe not a great selling point, to be sure, especially for a full price game. Still, this port is not the unmitigated disaster that some have characterized it as. For anyone who owns this same content on the PS5, it would be hard to recommend, though. The PC experience is too similar.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Trailer

For PC gamers who have not played the console version of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, it’s an easy game to recommend despite the potential technical issues. There is simply too much good. The Remake is one of the best re-imagined games ever made, and the original is demonstrably a masterpiece. We would have liked more options, better optimization, and a lower price tag to be sure, but on PC, Final Fantasy VII Remake looks fantastic and the story, characters, and gameplay deserve every gamer’s time.

***PC code provided by the publishers for review***

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