It's been several weeks, a failed power supply, many pints of brandy and all the Bond films since we last saw Cloud and Aeris.
If you've only just tuned into Well-Rendered, welcome! This is how we do things here. You run a Google images search for "final fantasy aeris church screenshot" and end up here, I write reams of metafictional prose, you stick around because you're an incorrigible voyeur on a lunch break. So long as we pretend we don't know each other when we meet on the Soho streets at 3am (seriously Mum, it's like the last days of Rome out there), it's all good.
Anyway. To recap, Cloud had fallen through the roof of Aeris' church and crushed her flowers. I like how Aeris is neither too afraid of Cloud to demand he pay her for the flowers he crushed nor so overwhelmed by his good looks (I'm just assuming he's good-looking, it's hard to tell with so few pixels at play) that she just lets him off.
Before the flower scenario can get too political, some pony tailed dudes arrive and start chasing our heroes up the stairs.
|Cloud and Aeris eye up a handy barrel.|
Cloud and Aeris then decide to break the fourth wall and make reference to the fact they're in a video game by throwing barrels at their pursuers, like Donkey Kong throws barrels at Jumpman, later Mario, in the original 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong.
Having evaded the mysterious pony tailed thugs, the pair make their way up into the rafters of the church, from which we can see the flower bed that broke Cloud's fall after the botched AVALANCE attack on the Sector 5 reactor.
Cloud and Aeris escape the church through the hole that Cloud made when he fell through the roof.
I think this entire sequence is actually one of the best in the game, from a graphical perspective. The pre-rendered environments give the designers a huge amount of freedom in regard to how they frame the scenes enabling them to use the lighting that gives the church a sense of scale and majesty. They'd never have been able to do that with in-engine environments and despite being slightly more immersive, the entire game would have suffered.
Now, many video game buildings are larger on the inside than they are on the outside, particularly in free-roaming games. The villages in Skyrim feature tiny cottages barely taller than their inhabitants, but enter any one of them and you'll find yourself in a palatial dwelling with a ceiling several feet above your head. This is done for pratical reasons; the interiors can't be smaller or you couldn't explore them and the exteriors couldn't be bigger or rendering the map would slow the game to a crawl. Fair play.
But this exterior shot of the church seems like a mis-step. I guess it's because they wanted to show the entire chuch in one interactive shot, and the character models would be too small if they showed them to scale. But while the last shot we had Cloud and Aeris in the rafters of a vast, ancient building, here we have them squatting on top of a technicolour Wendy house.
Never mind. Onwards!
They make their way through the Midgar slums, clambering over all manner of rubble. What buildings did those columns once support? We may never know.
Cloud stares out at the huge plate that hides the sky from everyone in the slums. This is dystopia on a really large scale.
I only hope that when we inevitably get out into the beautiful wilderness, we remember the grimy monoliths of Midgar and remember what we're fighting for.
The two of them slide down a pile of refuse at the entrance to the Secotor 7 slums. It looks like Cloud's going to take Aeris back to meet Tifa, Barret and the rest of AVALANCHE, but you're going to have to wait until next time to find out what happens. I promise it won't take another three months...