For those unfamiliar, this is a shooting game that uses one of FF7's tertiary characters as the protagonist - Vincent's even optional, in FF7! In FF7, he has a rich but underutilized backstory that is told primarily through wordless flashbacks. Much is insinuated, but not articulated.
It's hard to beat FF7's protagonist in terms of angst, in that he looked up to his culture's war hero, left home to join the army & be like him, only to have that hero burn down his hometown, killing his mother and everyone else he ever cared about...AND THEN you find out halfway through the game that this character's memories have been fucked, and he's not even the person he thought he was.
No, Vincent beats that! By previously working for the Corporate Bad Guys and being an expert marksman, falling in love with a scientist working on biological experiments whom he's supposed to be protecting, discovering she got pregnant by an unscrupable man he loathes, and that she did it FOR SCIENCE, injects herself with JENOVA cells, gives birth to a future serial killer/wannabe-planet destroyer before tragically dying & causing Vincent to feel like he personally failed her, getting SHOT by an unscrupable man he loathes & basically brought back to life and tortured/experimented upon against his will, and literally sleeping in a coffin for the next 50 years to atone for his sins in the basement of a mansion in a town that was supposed to have burned down, until you/your party wake him up to join the fight. ALL! OF! THE! ANGST!
The fact that the guy voice-acting for Vincent Valentine is the dude who did Spike's voice in Cowboy Bebop doesn't hurt, either. For a video game, I though the voice-acting in this was pretty great.
This story focuses primarily on Vincent, but Reeve and Yuffie are pretty prominent as well. I've seen some reviews complain about this, but I'm actually really excited for a game focusing on these three. Of course, that didn't decrease my excitement when the rest of the party showed up. TIFA!! I loved seeing Cid's ship - of course he'd have a skylight that rotates images of natural life on the planet.
I'd put this off for a long time because when I initially tried playing it, I failed hardcore with the setup. It is absolutely necessary to play through the tutorial, but this was made interesting for me because you got to play Vincent-as-a-Turk, :D With the help of the tutorial, you get your bearings okay, although playing games like Star Wars Dark Forces I and II probably have helped me become accustomed to shooters. Sometimes I had to replay parts of missions what seemed like an endless number of times to finally beat them, but then I'd get rewarded with ANGST and more story, so it was okay. Also, some of the mechanics are aimed at people used to RPGs, in my opinion, in that they make it easier. At all times, you can literally use a Phoenix Down on yourself so that if you get shot/KO'ed, you're immediately resurrected. They make a few things difficult in that the number of items you can carry is severely limited, but overall the difficulty was not extreme.
I'd expected the plot to make way less sense than it did. This game was better than it had any right to be, and the twists in the story were totally unexpected [to me], and tied right into the larger Final Fantasy VII mythology. It was fun that Lucrecia still had some secrets.
I LOVE part of the scene that auto-plays when you start up the game and just let it cycle, where Vincent climbs to the top of the Sister Ray towards the end of disc 2, and finds Hojo collapsed over the computer screens/controls, and Vincent just levels his gun. GAH!!
Being able to play around in Midgar and Kalm, finding LOVELESS posters on walls when you're zooming around with your sniper scope, EXPLORING THE SEWERS BENEATH NIBELHEIM, I feel like this game was a love letter to fans, and almost like it was created specifically for me.
As I try to finally plow through some PS2 games to find which ones I actually enjoy/are worth keeping [or, to use the KonMari phrase, which "spark joy"], I'm delighted to have fallen in love with this one.