• Roko Zaper

FF7 CGI Artwork Battle

When I got my hands on the original Final Fantasy 7 Guide one of things that I always kept coming back to was the CGI Artwork of all the characters. Stylistically different from both the in-game CGI and the original artwork, these scenes prompted you to look at the characters in a more intimate way. Interestingly, all the scenes (with the exception of Clouds) never occur during the story but are what-if scenarios that symbolize the characters hopes as well as their own fragility. They were crucial for me in constructing the world of Final Fantasy 7 in my mind as a breathing and living world. The characters were not just tied to certain scenes, as they would be in a movie, or involved when the gameplay required them to be, but in the words of one of the soundtrack titles were 'sending a dream into the universe'. Did the characters dream these scenarios or do they exist in an ideal reality, when Barret can show Marlene the hope of rejuvenating the world and Aerith can experience true freedom? They are still enigmatic to me after all these years.


With the release of the remake and use of similar promo artwork I thought it would be fascinating to compare the two sets of CGI Artworks and even decide who takes the win in terms of providing powerful symbolism to the world of FF7. Let us begin then with our spiky haired hero...


ORIGINAL

REMAKE
























Cloud's iconic scene overlooking the Shinra Headquarters symbolizes his confrontation with his past and a newfound determination. The newer backdrop is certainly more menacing and grander in scale while the new Cloud takes up a more pensive stance. The fact that Cloud stands a bit higher up in the remake version also makes a difference I think, giving him a more equal footing. This is a very close one, but I appreciate the directness of the original just a tad bit more. Cloud is closer to us and we can almost feel his heartbeat with the clangs of the Reactor music.


WINNER: ORIGINAL



ORIGINAL


REMAKE


Tifa's 'starry starry night' backdrop symbolizes her longing for a better future and shows us her innocent and gentle side. She is standing in the middle of her hometown where her and Cloud made 'that promise' as kids. The stars in the original certainly pop out more while the remake has a deeper blue tone. What I like about the remake version is that Tifa is presented more as an adult which perfectly contrast the 'childness' of her pose and the act of just starring into the sky. We really feel Tifa's soul in this one, stuck between fighting for a better tomorrow and just wanting to recall the pureness of her past hopes and dreams.


WINNER: REMAKE



ORIGINAL


REMAKE


I love the idea of Barret taking Marlene to the old church in Sector 5 slums. Its a scene that speaks a lot about their characters. Barret seems like the last guy on earth who would go to church or appreciate a bunch of flowers and yet his whole battle against Shinra is done in the name of the kind of hope that can be found in this dilapidated church, nature rejuvenating and healing the planet. Despite his appearance and gun arm, we can see his caring and fatherly side, even more so in the original where he is patting Marlene on the head. The colours work perfectly here and the flowers seem more precious because there is less of them.


WINNER: ORIGINAL



ORIGINAL


REMAKE


Now here is an interesting one. The original artwork featured both Aerith and the airship, which didn't appear until much later in the game. It was an ultimate what-if scenario for reasons that are obviously spoilers. I was interested in how the remake would handle this scene as there are certainly no airships about in Part 1. The solution? Remove the airship entirely! While I was initially a bit disappointed that we were getting CGI artwork that had to sacrifice visual elements because of the nature of the game, the piece got me thinking about how Aerith feels looking up at the blue sky. Poignantly, Aerith remarks that she misses the 'steel-sky' of Midgar and that actual freedom is terrifying 'like a great, never-ending sky'. I think this shot conveys those feelings perfectly and is quite bold in having a character confront her fears in a colourful and vibrant setting.


WINNER: REMAKE



ORIGINAL


REMAKE


So we are headed for a draw as we reach the final artwork, bad boy Sephy. This seems almost a one-for-one rendition. However by just looking at the posture I sense a bit more internal struggle going on in the original Sephiroth. I also got the impression in the remake that he fully embraces his own madness while in the original there is a side of him that seems aware that he is losing his grip on everything which in turn makes him even more crazy. The speeches he gives seem to be for the purpose of convincing himself that he is 'the chosen' as much anyone else. Ultimately, the original takes this one.


OVERALL WINNER: ORIGINAL


I came to the realization that my feelings on these CGI artworks pretty much mirror my feelings on the remake. It does many things as well as the original and some better but it's also very hard to recapture all the aspects that made the original special. Meanwhile we have more character art to look forward to the in the future. Vincent observing a storm from the rooftops, Nanaki next to his father and Yuffie overlooking a sunset....

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