Sunday, 29 June 2014

Final Fantasy VII Playthrough: Part 16 - S*** gets real, Cloud loses his s***

Aeris is dead, Sephiroth got away, and I'm having an identity crisis.

This was brought on by my recent blackouts, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences and a worrying tendency towards uncharacteristic behaviour, such as giving a WMD to my nemesis and trying to stab my (now late) friend in the head with a Buster Sword.

The fact that all these things somehow benefited Sephiroth makes me think that they've got something to do with him, but that doesn't make me feel better.

It's not just me who's feeling out of sorts. The whole gang is depressed by Aeris' death, so it's with heavy hearts that we leave the City of the Ancients and begin an arduous climb up a mountain in pursuit of Sephiroth, who has fled.

At the top of the mountain is an adorable village, which makes it worth the climb. Despite our woes, we're feeling hungry, so go on a hunt for the nearest fondue outlet.

Instead of a delicious pot of melted cheese, I find some winter sport accident victims.

Before things get awkward, Elena and the Turks turn up, so I grab the invalid's snowboard and make a break from freedom.

The journey down the mountain takes the form of a snowboarding minigame. It's worth pointing out that Final Fantasy VII came out a good three years before the first SSX game... and also that SSX is a lot more fun than this.

Although there's a sign at the bottom of the snowboard course, it's the last of its kind that we see for a long while, as the glacier we're on is a largely uncharted wasteland.

I end up on a vast expanse of ice and snow, and quickly become lost. Exhausted, I pass out from the cold.

Fortunately, I am rescued by a kindly stranger and wake up in a cosy log cabin.

Outside the cabin, and the grief, fear and cold are getting on everyone's nerves. Barret starts ranting about the lack of amenities, and said that if he had an adorable log cabin, he'd make sure it had heating. We point out that heating would require the kind of power that SHINRA manufacture using the kind of reactors that he's just spent the last few years of his life blowing up. He blames this momentary ideological lapse on the cold, and we proceed.

My sister used to love The Little Polar Bear, an achingly cute 90s cartoon about a bear called Lars and his best friend, a Arctic hare referred to as "Lena Snow Bunny". Remembering that made me feel pretty bad about killing this one, despite its horrifying eyes and the fact that there's no way it would be able to find a carrot on this glacier without being involved in some seriously dark arts.

This person is right to be concerned. Hot tubs are notoriously unhygienic.

In fact she's so upset that she attacks us, making us fall in love with her in an attempt to cloud our judgement.

She might have had better luck a week ago when we were full of Gold Saucer's finest cocktails, but right now our hearts have been hardened thanks to the whole Aeris thing. Therefore we prevail, earning the "Alexander" summon as a reward. You can't see from this picture, but Alexander is a cross between a castle and a racing car.

Summons can only be used in battle, so sadly there's no riding Alexander to the top of the glacier.

We find some relative respite in an ice cavern.

Deep inside the cavern is one of those moaning Sephiroth clones whom we last saw wandering the streets of Nibelheim.

We finally reach what appears to be the summit and peer hesitantly over the edge.

The view is not reassuring.

This is North Crater, site of an enormous meteor impact years ago. The whirling winds are caused by Spirit Energy gathering round the site to heal the planet.

If you've forgotten since our ill-fated trip to the Temple of the Ancients, "Meteor" is the spell Sephiroth wants to use to wound the planet so badly that he can harness the resulting energy to become a god.

We should probably stop that happening.

Despite the entire planet being at risk of annihilation, Tifa makes it all about her.

The action then cuts to to an airship, where Hojo is rubbing his hands with glee about the reunion of all the Sephiroth clones.

And there they are! Sephiroth can't be far away now.

If someone hasn't already made a tumblr blog about innuendo in Final Fantasy VII, I'm calling it.

Tifa, Vincent and I decide to go on ahead, leaving the Black Materia with Red XIII for safekeeping.

Heading into the light is a good idea, right?

Oh, maybe not. We end up in an illusory version of Nibelheim.

This is sensible advice, and it will work providing we don't run into Sephiroth.

Oh, poo.

I'm a Sephiroth clone? So how come Tifa remembers me as her childhood friend?

But what about that photo that was taken of us back in Nibelheim? Back when Tifa was a tour guide and I was a SOLDIER recruit?


I'm now facing the ultimate existential crisis. It turns out I never really existed, instead having been built using Jenova cells and the memories of a girl called Tifa, who it turns out I never actually met before I became an eco-terrorist even though I thought we were childhood friends.

Back to reality (whatever that is), and the SHINRA crew have caught up with us at the centre of the crater.

Creepy scientist Hojo, who was responsible for creating Sephiroth, me, and the parade of faceless Sephiroth clones, refers to "Weapon". What is weapon?

This section is extremely dialogue-heavy, so you'll forgive me for cutting some exposition. The Reunion to which I refer is that of all the Sephroth clones, including me and, well, Sephiroth himself.

Red XIII turns up and gives the Black Materia back to me, which, given my current state of mind, I'm pretty certain is a bad idea.

Sure enough, I take the WMD and float up to the ceiling of the cavern (erm...), in order to give my prize to Sephiroth.

Although Hojo had his heart set on being clone-master, I think he might not be a match for Sephiroth himself.

See? Look at that torso.

Hojo is one of those scientists whom we tend to only see in sci-fi, so enraptured with his creation that he is oblivious to its gruesome nature or apocalyptic potential.

Manipulated by the Jenova cells that I have been built from, I pass the Black Materia to Sephiroth.


With Sephiroth and me at the centre of the reaction, SHINRA's scientists grab my friends and escape in the air ship.

...and this is what emerges from the crater. It's Weapon, the sentient, erm, weapon, that was unleashed when I pushed the Black Materia through Sephiroth's membrane.

Oh dear.

My friends look on, aghast.

Weapon roars...

...and takes a swipe at the airship.

Tifa stumbles, encircled by Weapon's energy.

Fortunately, Barret is there to rescue her and look dramatic as he is semi-sillhouetted against the supernatural backdrop.

Nice earring, bro.

Oh dear.

Oooooooooooooh dear.

What have I unleashed? Will Tifa, Barret, Red XIII and the gang ever escape from SHINRA? Will I ever get my s&*% together?

Find out in the next episode of the Final Fantasy VII Playthrough!

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