Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Final Fantasy VII Playthrough: Part 20 - Diamond Weapon


"Diamond Weapon"? Has Final Fantasy VII gone gangsta?

Before we find out, a recap. Things just keep going from bad to worse. Not only is Sephiroth still on the loose, but Meteor is still hurtling through space towards the planet, and we've just blown up a rocket trying to stop it. Right now we're hanging out on the bridge of the Highwind ingesting about how terrible everything is. In fact, this is exactly how the last few instalments of the play through stated off, and I'm hoping this repetitiveness means you won't notice that I haven't updated it in 4 months.


They delay is partly to do with the fact that my PC started electrocuting me and I had to get my live-in IT guy to re-build it from scratch, but the main reason is that after the last episode of the playthrough I took a short new year's break, and when I returned to Final Fantasy VII I could not remember what I was supposed to do next and why. Modern games don't really have this issue; there's generally some kind of diary or hint system telling you where the next part of the quest is, but Final Fantasy VII is from the 90s, when shit was real.

You'd think it would have been easy for me to track the solution down by reading my own blog and then looking up a walkthrough, but when I went to where the internet was telling me to go, nothing happened - I hadn't fulfilled some condition earlier in the game and the next event wasn't being triggered. I'd also managed to re-set the dates on my saves after I moved them as part of a failed attempt to get my PC to stop electrocuting me, which didn't help. Eventually, I loaded an earlier save and replayed a massive chunk of the game in order to get my back where I needed to be.*


Anyway we're back now, and Red XIII is pontificating about the terrible effect that short electoral terms have on long-term public policy. At least that's how I'm interpreting it. It's easy to mock the Final Fantasy series trope of having people standing around waiting for you to start a philosophical discussion with them, but for me much of the series' appeal is in the way that magic and supernatural phenomena affect the people of its worlds in the same way that "real" events do people in ours.


By now I am used to this kind of reaction when I arrive in villages.

We're in Cosmo Canyon to solicit Bugenhagen's help to finish what Aeris started before she was murdered by Sephiroth at the City of the Ancients. Bugenhagen, remember? The Weeble environmentalist/scientist/philosopher who Red XIII refers to as his grandfather? Anyway, we need him because we're a lovably rag-tag bunch of eco-warriors and people who arguably don't really exist, and need the advice of someone who knows what's going on. On our way to Bugenhagen's observatory we drop in on the locals to find out how they're dealing with the impending apocalypse.


What do you mean "people like me"? Geez.


I have to say, reading about the intricate workings of the unique flora and fauna that we're about to exterminate would not help me "forget all my fears".


Assuming she means astral bodies as opposed to celebrities.


I'm not sure this woman has really grasped what will actually happen if Meteor, Weapon, Sephiroth, or a combination of all three destroy the planet. No-one will be around to run across her magnum opus if that happens.

I hope she won't despair when she figured this out. On the contrary, I believe that the act of creation is meaningful for the creator even if no-one else gets to read it, it's as much about the voyage of making something from nothing as it is the discovery of that something.


Sometimes Final Fantasy gets a bit real.


Bugenhagen is on hand to put mankind in perspective against the great scheme of things, and suggests that maybe extinction is not as cataclysmic as everyone is making it out to be. I make a mental note to bear this in mind whenever UKIP or dating apps for millionaires appear on my Twitter feed.

We formulate a plan to pick up Aeris' trail at the City of the Ancients, where she was trying to summon Holy, the ultimate white magic and key to defeating Meteor.


This might seem like a bit of a non-sequitur, but basically, we're now back in the submarine trying to find a secret artefact. The object at the foreground to the right is not actually Sebastian the crab, it is the SHINRA sub we defeated recently. The horrifying entity to the left is something we will learn more about later.

But first, we dredge something off the sea floor.


Thankfully I have the internet to tell me what this key unlocks.

To the City of the Ancients!


OMG! It's...

Photo credit - ValerianaSolaris on DeviantArt

Being children of the 90s, we stop for a few hours to play.


This is how I used to react when playing Polly Pocket too.


That's meant to happen, probably.


WHO WORE IT BETTER?
Image credit: ThePirates on Etsy and omg you can buy this.

Bugengagen explains that Aeris had come very close to summoning Holy, but her prayer was interrupted by Sephiroth murdering her. He had been repressing Holy within the planet (magic magic magic plot magic fantasy magic magic), but now we had a chance to finish what Aeris started.


Yeah!

This reminds me, I've been bringing Vincent and Cid with me on a lot of missions recently, and I should probably level someone else up. It's hard to leave them behind though, Vincent is a self-regenerating vampire/werewolf and Cid lights dynamite with his cigarette. Compared to that Cait Sith's magic phone is a bit meh.


We retrieve the White Materia, and are about to start high-fiving when Dream Phone shows up to tell us who who who's got a crush on Cloud.


Oh dear. What with the giant monster on the rampage, the meteor hurtling towards the planet and the insane half-god trying to make the ensuing explosion as big as possible, we'd sort of forgotten about the corrupt government and their comparatively puny gun.


The action cuts away to a chopper speeding past Meteor. That smog-coloured sky looks familiar...


Yes, this is Midgar, where we haven't been since we rescued Red XIII and Aeris  from a forced inter-species union at the hands of the mad scientist Professor Hojo. That guy has a lot to answer for.


So that's where the Junon cannon went. I wonder what Rufus has got planned...


Rufus explains his plan to his henchpeople Reeve (in charge of the SHINRA power company), Heidegger (a SHINRA power executive and certified wuss) and Scarlet (head of the weapons facility, responsible for Barret's gun-arm). What can they be readying the canon for?


We see the canon from a distance, Meteor still in the background.


Oh, it's that thing that we saw at the bottom of the sea earlier. Do you think it wants to be friends?


NOBODY PANIC.


We land the airship and get out before the thing arrives at Midgar.


Oh dear. This is Diamond Weapon. At this point I should explain that this gangsta is not the same as the Weapon that attacked Junon earlier in the game, or the one that emerged from the North Crater. It's one of several "Weapons", monsters created by the planet in order to defend itself from attack. By summoning Meteor to wound the planet, Sephiroth is trying to get the planet to release a whole lot more of these bad boys...


After being pummelled a bit, the action cuts to an FMV, which is either really good news, or really bad.


This seems like it's good news, but it's probably not.


Good call Cid. I wouldn't want to be standing in Godzilla's poop-zone either.


GET OUT OF THE WAY THEN


Sister Ray is the laser canon they've made from the repurposed Junon gun. I don't know if its name is meant to sound like Enola Gay. It's hard not to read nuclear apocalyptic references into Japanese postwar sci-fi.


Eep.


Sister Ray powers up...


...and fires.


Diamond Weapon charges its own guns in retaliation.


I get that they want to watch the light show, but I feel someone should be up on the bridge, commanding the ship.


Sister Ray's laser beam speeds past Diamond Weapon's blasts.


A nameless member of the crew has clearly had the presence of mind to steer get the Highwind out of the way.


With the increased altitude, Cloud can see the North Crater, where we left Sephiroth after he destroyed Cloud's sense of self.


Sephiroth's got his own light show going on.


You'll have to take the operator's word here because I did not get a screenshot of this. To be honest I'm not even sure I believe it.


Not that it matters too much right now, because before it was hit by Sister Ray, Diamond Weapon fired its own shots at Midgar, which are causing havoc for the rich people (check out top hat guy in the foreground) whose lives weren't ruined when the Sector 7 plate fell earlier in the game.


This shot of Rufus is so moody it gets its own FMV.


I don't know if his eyes are meant to be inscrutable or if it's just the resolution. He's either looking menacing or guilty.

Before we can find out...


SUSPENSE!

Is this the last we'll see of Rufus? Was Diamond Weapon really destroyed? How many more siblings does it have? What is Sephiroth up to in the North Crater? And what are we going to do about Meteor?

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


*tl;dr dog ate my homework.

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