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Small details you missed in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trailer

After four years, Square Enix took the opportunity at the 2019 State of Play presentation to remind the world that, yes, the long-anticipated Final Fantasy 7 Remake is still alive and well, and looking better than ever. That's a huge relief for a lot of fans who were getting worried about the game turning into another ten-year Final Fantasy Vs 13 situation, and the promise that we're getting more at E3 inspires quite a bit of confidence that Director Tetsuya Nomura and his team aren't just twiddling their thumbs waiting for the PS5.

Until E3 comes along, however, there's just this new trailer, a minute of glorious-looking footage from presumably the first act of the game (the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is still planned to be an episodic title). There's more going on beyond just the obvious, though, and we're here to point out there's a little more than meets the eye when it comes to the new footage.

Call her by her name

The original PS1 version of Final Fantasy 7 may be the version so many fans fell in love with — for many, their first JRPG altogether — but most Western audiences are woefully unaware of just how much of a mess the localization was for it. We're not just talking full-fledged "spoony bard"-level catastrophes like "This guy are sick," but mistranslations that led to lost subtext and cultural/religious references, which is kinda what happens when you only hire one person to translate a 60-hour JRPG in only a few months.

Naturally, Square Enix has gotten better at this over the years, and returning to FF7 after all this time means some long-standing problems can be rectified. And there's maybe no bigger long-standing problem in the game than the fact that an entire half of the planet knows kindly flower girl Aerith as "Aeris."

Granted, this one still sparks debate in fan circles; the root of the problem is that the "-th" syllable doesn't even exist in the Japanese language, and they tend to use "-su" as a replacement in foreign words and names. And, really, "Aeris" really does sound prettier to Western ears. But the intent was always for her name to be a fancier version of the word "Earth," and as we can see in the menus in the trailer, that's exactly what she's going to be called in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

The art of war

At this point, anyone who's played enough Square Enix games knows their internal policy since the early 2000s is to throw ideas for new combat at the wall and see what sticks. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that it looks like Final Fantasy 7 Remake is ditching the tried-and-true turn-based combat of old for something new. And that something new looks like it's taking its cues from Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts.

The trailer shows multiple examples of real-time combat taking place, with a menu containing specific special moves neatly tucked away at the bottom. The blessed twist this time around, however, seems to be that you're not just stuck flailing away with only one character out of your team. One moment in the trailer shows Barret firing away on his own, and not just as a larger team up. Makes sense, because there will be riots if players didn't get to manually destroy bosses using Tifa's slot machine Limit Break.

Hidden figures

The way Square Enix is drip-feeding the redesigned characters in each trailer is fascinating, but hey, we're assuming it's gonna be a long road until the public actually gets to lay hands on this game, so why not tease it out a little? So, while the PlayStation Experience 2015 trailer gave us our first looks at Cloud and Barret, the 2019 trailer was all about the face of our dear sweet Aerith, with a little bit of love shown towards scrappy revolutionary Jessie as well.

Of course, we can assume the ancillary members of our crew, like Cait Sith, Red XIII, and Yuffie will come later when we see a part of the game that isn't the bombing sequence. That still leaves one key player still unseen: badass shorts enthusiast Tifa Lockhart.

Funnily enough, during the trailer, her name is in nearly every shot of the menu, but her character is never onscreen. So, it's probably a safe assumption she's the next one up in Square Enix's gradual reveal strategy.

Sound check

While of course this is the first time we've actually seen Final Fantasy 7 Remake in four years, this is also the first time we've heard it since then. And sharp ears might be a little surprised by what they hear.

There's some surface-level good news, of course, in that whoever the voice director is this time around has gone for a more nuanced set of performances than normal. Cloud sounds weary, but determined instead of cold and lifeless. Barret takes yet another blessed step away from being Mr. T towards something more like Terry Crews with a sore throat which, y'know, still isn't perfect.

Part of that may have to do with some new blood in the voice booth as well. It's still uncertain if that's Steve Burton and Beau Billingslea playing Cloud and Barret this time around as they have since the Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children days (of note: Burton didn't voice Cloud in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate either). Aerith seems to get a different moderately famous voice actress every time, so no surprises there. What's immediately apparent is that this is going to be a Final Fantasy 7 realized with all the gravity it deserves, and that extends to the performances.

Welcome to the next level

We keep harping on about it, but it still bears repeating: the last time we got a look at Final Fantasy 7 Remake was back in 2015. It's staggering to think about all the advancements in gaming in just four short years. Fortunately, it doesn't look like the folks at Square Enix have been blind to it either.

Comparing this year's trailer to the one released in 2015 is rather breathtaking. The current build is brighter, shining light on more details from the world, which makes it even more obvious how things have improved. Jessie had a quick close-up moment in the 2015 trailer, and the added realism to her face is impressive. Same for Barret, who was looking a little botoxy in 2015, but now strikingly lifelike. Cloud himself is probably the most impressive upgrade, from a less doll-like hairdo, to a more natural-looking face.

The updated enemy models might be where the new trailer shines most. These things look incredibly creepy, which makes it all the more satisfying when Cloud smacks a few of them around with Cross-Slash. Serious work is going into this game, and if Tetsuya Nomura and his team were looking for validation that they're on the right track, they've got it.

Old man yells at Cloud

Square Enix saved their biggest surprise for last, with an appearance from the One-Winged Angel himself, Sephiroth. And you better believe there are questions that need answering.

For starters, this trailer — really, all the footage so far — focuses specifically on the opening hours of the game, with Avalanche bombing Mako reactors until President Shinra, scumbag that he is, literally crushes the lower class. Lest we forget, our first legitimate non-flashback Sephiroth sighting in the original game doesn't happen until our heroes set out across Midgar and end up in Nibelheim. What, then, is Sephiroth doing in front of Cloud now?

It's possible it's an illusion, of course, thanks to Cloud's unfortunate connection with Jenova and Mako energy. And the 2015 trailer does include a moment when Cloud is surrounded before jumping onto a train, where he has a staticky headache that could be alluding to the same thing. That could make for an interesting twist, where Cloud's in rough psychic shape long before he starts remembering his past. The worst case scenario, though, is if Square makes the mistake of introducing Sephiroth too early, taking all the punch out of his relatively few story moments in the game. Fan service is well and good, but a little bit of Sephiroth can go a long way in this universe.