Cloud is Final Fantasy VII's iconic hero, known for his huge sword and being a man of few words. Vincent Valentine played a minor role in Final Fantasy VII, but that's about to change in Dirge of Cerebus. In this game we learn about Vincent's past and how he must save the world from Shinra once again.
Many characters from Final Fantasy VII make an appearance including Cid, Barret, and Yuffie. Caith Sith is a playable character for one level that requires stealth reconnaissance. The rest of the time is spent with Vincent wielding his handguns from a third person perspective. You can change to a first person mode which is almost too easy with the auto targeting. When you do melee attacks, the game will revert back to a third person perspective. Since some of the enemies have strong defenses, melee attacks are not uncommon.
Most of your enemies will consist of Deep Ground soldiers (elite Shinra soldiers) and snipers. There are some robots, giant bugs and hyena like creatures too. Many of the bosses are airships but there are some Materia enhanced warriors willing to fight you too. The bosses are surprisingly tough, but they usually have a weakness or a predictable pattern. One chain gun wielding boss decided to pick a fight with me while being surrounded by explosive barrels. After shooting those barrels, he was quickly dispatched. The environment can work to your favor, so pay attention.
There wasn't a whole lot of room for exploration as many paths were conveniently obstructed by debris or locked doors. Many paths are temporarily blocked by electronic gates that become unlocked after you find its key card. Sometimes the key cards are just accross the map, but they are usually dropped by a tougher than normal enemy.
Besides finding key cards, there are various optional objectives like locating data discs and rescuing civilians and friendly World Regenesis Organization (WRO) soldiers along the way. At the end of every level you are scored on various attributes like accuracy and by how many objectives you have successfully completed. You can put your score into experience (recommended) or convert it to gil (money). Before starting the next level you are given an option to buy healing potions, ammunition and weapon upgrades.
Jukeboxes can be found in almost every level and they serve as storefronts. I don't think they play music though. Since I emulated this game on my PC, my audio experience is a bit marred by the stuttering in the cut scenes. The voice acting was good and I did enjoy the final boss music even though it was in Japanese.
The movies look amazing and were on par in quality to Advent Children. Given the release dates of the movie and this game, they were probably done at the same time and by the same studio. The character models look good and were probably cutting edge for the PS2 back then. The rest of the game world was a bit bland and unimpressive. Granted, the dreary colors may have something to do with the planet being out of balance and in danger again.
The game play is a bit on the average side as well. You have to shoot your way past enemy soldiers, fight a boss, rinse, and repeat. The unfolding story and beautiful movies make it worth while in the end. In order to understand the characters and back story of this game you have to be familiar with Final Fantasy VII.
Cid has his usual quirks like smoking and cussing up a storm. Of course, violence is a given and Vincent Valentine makes revolvers look cool. Lastly, like many games these days, the females have less clothing than their male counterparts. If you don't mind those issues or average gameplay, Dirge of Cerebus does have a good story to tell. You just have to be patient to get through it all.