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August 22, 2006
3 Min Read
This week's version of regular column Critical Reception takes a look at online reaction to Square Enix's third-person shooter title set in the Final Fantasy VII universe, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII for the PS2. Since being released in Japan in January, Dirge of Cerberus has been mired in controversy due to its mediocre review scores and its surprisingly quick trip to the bargain bins following poor sales. The title's online multiplayer services are scheduled to be shut down in September due to lack of use, and the opinion shared by many Japanese gamers is generally one of disappointment. Dirge of Cerberus's current average score of 58% at online rating aggregate site GameRankings.com similarly reflects disappointment for reviewers in the United States, though many reviews remain positive. Awarding Dirge of Cerberus a 7 out of 10, IGN's Jeremy Dunham cites a number of improvements the title has seen for its U.S. release. "Fixing the camera and targeting system aren't the only addendums," writes Dunham. "A plethora of various adjustments have also been addressed for the final American version. These updates include a hastening of Vincent's default running and firing speeds, a more challenging item management system (there are fewer to hold and they're worth less when resold), and the Chaos limit break (an alternate beast-form melee attack) is much more useful." Dunham admits that the title has its faults with level design and pacing, but overall remains a worthwhile experience. "Is Dirge of Cerberus the best use of the Final Fantasy VII universe? Definitely not," he concludes. "Is it a decent game with a strong story and occasionally-engaging rifle blasting? Absolutely." Gamespy's Justin Speer is a little less enthusiastic. "Other than the enjoyable upgrade system, there are a few other elements that help pull Dirge above the level of a completely generic shooter," Speer observes. The title could have particular worth to fans of Final Fantasy VII, however. "It's lacking in originality and refinement," says Speer, "but Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII ends up as a playable and occasionally interesting experiment with traditional action gameplay packed with cutscenes, story and fan-pleasing cameos." The fan-pleasing aspect of Dirge of Cerberus is a matter of dispute, though. "Dirge seems to treat the common FFVII fan with disdain instead of respect," writes 1UP.com's Andrew Pfister in his review, explaining that even FFVII enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to tolerate the title's lackluster gameplay. Pfister gives the game a rating of 4 out of 10, and summarizes his complaints by listing the numerous gaming cliches Dirge of Cerberus regurgitates throughout: "Gates. Keycards. Ammo crates. Exploding barrels. And oh yeah, an escort mission." Despite a lack of enthusiasm from reviewers, Dirge of Cerberus appears to be on its way to becoming a big seller regardless. The depth of the fanaticism that surrounds Final Fantasy VII is not to be underestimated, and though Dirge of Cerberus suffers from many gameplay issues, the title's continuation of FFVII's storyline could prove too alluring a prospect for series die-hards to resist.
About the Author(s)
Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.
He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.
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