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satai_delenn completes her journey around the Final Fantasy VII universe, by finishing Diege of Cerberus ~Final Fantasy VII~ game for PS2.


Satai's FFVII Playthrough Collection

Chapter 1[]

The opening movie was pretty cool--why is there so much Yuffie in it though...? Having seen some later stuff, I guess they figured they'd put in all the characters that didn't get enough development in FFVII. Which is nice. More FFVII universe FMV, bring it! I also liked the music that played during this. Also, hell yes Vincent is voiced by Steven Blum here just like in Advent Children. That automatically makes this better. Okay, game start.

Prologue: We've just finished kicking Hojo's ass, and some firemen or something are securing the area. But Yuffie's detected a life sign still kicking up on top of the building...crap. Hojo is apparently not dead after all! So Vincent goes back to finish exacting his revenge, despite Yuffie's protests. Unfortunately, Hojo appears to have activated some kind of computer program...before there's a big explosion! And Hojo is gone. Whoops. And ah, this is why there was so much Yuffie in the opening movie--almost all of it was taken from this scene. Cool.

Three years later...Vincent is hanging out in Kalm, having gotten a message on his phone (I guess he got around to buying one after all!) from Reeve asking him to meet him there. Ooh, more Reeve! Yessss. But while there, he has a flashback to the time we found Lucrecia in her cave--apparently she was inside a huge crystal, who knew? And man, he pronounced her name really weirdly. I've always said "loo-kree-shah", but he said something funky like "loo-kretch-ya".

Anyway, there's a party going on in Kalm, people are dancing and having a good time, fireworks and laughter and fun...all of which Vincent is stoically ignoring, of course, sitting alone in his room with his memories. And the television says something about finding a secret Shinra basement under Midgar, where the press is looking for evidence of human experiments, dun dun dunnn! Man, if they wanted to know that badly, Vincent could just go tell them. "You want a Shinra experiment? Here." *transform, raaaar* But the television and the fun are soon interrupted! By gunfire and missiles and explosions! And some manner of troops dropping from the sky! Whoa. Why would anyone attack Kalm? There's nothing there. But anyway, these troops are apparently kidnapping people who scan as "clean" and killing people who scan as "tainted." Whatever that means. (Geostigma...! Wait, no. XD)

Well, Vincent isn't quite so lone wolf as to leave random townspeople to die, so he goes out with his trusty guns to solve the problem. Meanwhile, some chick with creepy glowing red eyes watches Vincent while all this is going on, apparently having been specifically looking for him. ...and then the game just kind of tosses me into battle. I was kind of expecting it to tell me how to play first! I never read instruction manuals because they usually contain minor spoilers >_> and I skipped the tutorial at the intro screen because I figured the game would tell me things as I went. I was mistaken! So after trying to figure it out on my own and failing because the control scheme is really not very intuitive after having played things like DMC, and losing half my HP already, I paused and read the manual anyway.

Okay! Unpause, shoot things! I get a double jump right off the bat, that's pretty cool, and I love the concept of Vincent's melee air combo; I wish it were more generally useful, but maybe it will become more so later on. In the meantime, having three different customizable weapons is neat, though at that point of course they were all the same. Pretty quickly though, after running around for a while, I picked up a few things, like the Long and Short Barrels and the sniper scope. Oh hell yeah, sniping.

One thing that keeps getting me hit in this game is that I keep trying to pull an MGS and stealth around picking people off. It...doesn't really work unless they're really far away and you can snipe them, which hasn't happened that much so far. I think it was the fact that Vincent has a duck -> semi-crawl that put me in MGS mode. But he can't, for example, press up against walls and peer around corners, which I keep instinctively trying to do, heh. Ah well!

So I run around saving the townspeople, though I definitely didn't get them all--two of them died right in front of my eyes, it was pretty terrible. >_> At least I managed to save the girl that got dragged off while her mother was mauled to death by a dog beast thing. I love how every time Vincent saves someone and they thank him, he just goes *whoosh* with his cape and dashes off dramatically. XD This really is Vincent May Cry, tranny wasn't kidding--complete with over-the-top melodrama. Well, it's a game about Vincent, could it really have not had melodrama? Hehe.

Eventually I reach the town square, where a giant airship helicopter thing called the Dragonfly attacks me with missiles and machine guns. Boss fight time! This was a pretty fun fight, though I will say that one thing that is really bugging me about this game so far is the lack of defense options. There's no block and there's no dodge roll or anything. There's this dash, but it's not very helpful for dodging effectively because the recovery on it is way too long. So about the only thing I could do to avoid getting hit was run around in circles and try to keep ahead of the nigh-constant machine gun fire while occasionally turning to shoot the thing with Fire or just bullets. I also guzzled potions like they were candy, geez. lern2dodge, right? And somewhere in the middle of the fight, after I'd damaged it enough, it deployed dudes who could shoot at me too. Bah! Kind of neat having the explodey boxes around, though, so I could take out several troops in one go. Also nice of the game to give me lots of crates to break for extra potions and gil and things.

Eventually I bring the thing down, but not before it gets off a bunch of missiles and Vincent has to dive into a building to avoid getting blasted to smithereens. Going through the building, into the basement, shooting some guys--I actually did manage to kind of do a little MGS-esque popping out from behind corners to shoot them without getting hit here--until I hit a room where the wall is smashed in and the creepy chick who'd been watching me shows up with a huge hulking glowy guy with funny looking ears and blue hair. And apparently the chick is teeny tiny. Maybe she's a robot or something. They want to know where the "Proto Materia" is...and Vincent doesn't seem to have any idea what they're talking about, so they shout something that sounds like "Hail Vice!" (I had the subtitles off, so I didn't know at the time that it's actually Weiss--I turned them on later when I realized I wasn't catching names at all) and attack me for a while.

Blam blam, kill some dudes--still getting used to locking onto new targets more quickly and getting the camera to work with me--and then the blue guy says some cryptic things and the chick passes out. Wha...? And blue guy introduces himself as Azul, and says we'll meet again. 'Kay. They go, and then who should find me but Reeve! Yay! He's a bit concerned to hear that "Azul the Cerulean of the Tsviets" was here. Tsviets? O...kay, sure. But there's no time for this, something called the WRO of which Reeve is apparently the Commissioner has arrived, and he wants Vincent's help. Vincent initially declines--don't get me involved, man--but then someone shoots Reeve in the back.

I have to say, the game actually did for a split second trick me into thinking Reeve was dead. I was like "waaagh no!!" And then uh...his body fell apart to reveal that in fact it was a mannequin being controlled by Cait Sith who is of course being controlled by Reeve. ...ha ha ha ha what. That's...I don't know if that's great or ridiculous. Or both. XD And Cait Sith is...still inexplicably Scottish, and still just as great as he was before. Vincent, you know you're just pretending not to care, and you're totally going to help out, right? ...fine, says Vincent, and agrees to meet Reeve at the church.

Now I have allies, yay! The WRO guys are pretty sucky, but at least they take some of the enemies' attention off of me. And the WRO is apparently the World Regenesis Organization (augh "genesis", why couldn't they have called it the World Revival Organization or someting?), dedicated to fixing and protecting the planet in the aftermath of Shinra and Meteorfall. Go Reeve! Woo! So I go to the church, but before I can get inside, the Dragonfly comes back for more! It's not looking so great, but it's in good enough shape to shoot things at me, and that's no good. For this one I had picked up the Griffon frame--machine gun, yessss--and though it does less damage, it's nice and fast. I combined it with the Short Barrel and then stuck the Long Barrel onto the Cerberus frame with the sniper scope. So I have one short range automatic weapon and one slower, more powerful long range weapon, and one neutral weapon. Neat. Fire does good damage but I ran out of MP pretty quickly.

Eventually it was taking damage so slowly that I figured what the hell, and used a Limit Breaker. Wooooo go go Galian Beast! Raaar! And good lord, this finished the fight fast. I jumped up and slashed at it a few times, and Vincent just tore holes in the damn thing with his claws. Goodbye, Dragonfly. But of course, it couldn't just be destroyed--there had to be a badass cutscene where Vincent somehow got way up on top of the church steeple, silhouetted against the moon, and then jumped down and shot the Dragonfly a bunch of times before going all beast on it again and smashing it to bits. Sweet.

Then the real Reeve (presumably) shows up and says cool, we saved Kalm, but now there are reports of more of these guys in a place called Edge. Meanwhile, elsewhere, some WRO folks are patrolling...and one by one they get eaten by some swirling darkness. That's not good! And the rest of them meet...uh...some Russian lady with red hair and red eyes and kind of a cool weapon and a nonsensical wardrobe. Why...why is she Russian? Oh, haha, Tsviets. I see. That's terrible XD There's no such thing as Russia on this planet...! She seems pretty badass, though, killing like four guys in one blow, and she introduces herself as Rosso the Crimson. ...haha, they are not even pretending, this is great. End of chapter!

Chapter 2[]

I somehow managed to score an A on that chapter despite it taking forever and me taking craploads of damage and only having saved 66% of the townspeople. And this is interesting, it gives me the option of trading in EXP for gil. I guess if I was really desperate for money I could do that, but why bother when upping my stats seems like such a great idea? Maybe later in the game I can max out my stats and end up using EXP to buy things, in which case that's pretty awesome. So Vincent jumps from level 1 to level 6 in one go, huzzah! And oh man, I can upgrade my weapon bits. Sweet. Upgraded both barrels and the machine gun frame. Love that thing.

Chapter 2! I'm on a truck with Reeve, heading to Edge, and he's giving me some exposition. Apparently these guys are Deepground, a group of superhuman soldiers (not to be confused with SOLDIERS) created by the late President Shinra for who knows what purpose. More MGS vibes, heh. Apparently, Rufus was so busy with his own thing after he took over that Heidegger and Scarlet and Hojo never bothered to tell him about this project. Superhuman soldiers sound a lot like Hojo's doing to me. Man, is there anything bad that he's not in some fashion responsible for? XD

And the Russians I mean Tsviets are the elites of these Deepground folks. Cool. Reeve goes on to explain that a whole mess of people disappeared from Junon, and that the people in Edge...are on edge. Oh god why did you say that. *facepalm* And then he goes all creepy, talking about hearing the voices of wailing souls. I'm liking the quasi-DMC atmosphere they're trying to give this game, heh. I mean, it's a little too confused about the type of game it wants to be for that to quite work, but it's fun anyway. I feel like the game takes itself with a bit of a grain of salt anyway, which is nice. Can't take a game about Vincent Emotine too seriously, after all!

But then...we are interrupted by a transmission coming from some unknown source, with a guy who kind of reminds me of Liquid Snake (maybe this is just because of all the other MGS cues I'm getting) doling out the threats in big helpings. He apparently decided to open up the Thesaurus of Murdering People and just list all the ways he intended to eliminate all the "tainted" people in the world. Huh. Tainted with what, I wonder?

Then the truck is attacked by a bunch of dog beasty things, and Reeve gives me a freaking machine gun turret to kill them with. Hell yeah! After that, they start coming from above, so Vincent flips up onto the roof and I shoot them down by more conventional means. And then...somehow Reeve or the other guy, whoever is driving this thing, somehow manages to jump it across the broken bridge and then stop it from skidding off a cliff. I'm just going to say it was Reeve because that's badass, heh.

He tells Vincent to go on to Edge and help the WRO troops while he goes back to headquarters to figure out what that transmission was all about. Vincent seems like he would have liked to extricate himself from all this, but he's now stuck in the middle of nowhere halfway to Edge anyway, so what's a guy to do? Onward, then. At one point there's this boss fight with a slew of dog-beasts and the King Dog-Beast--the Crimson Hound, I should say, much more dramatic--and that was kind of fun because I had to chase them around and stuff. I also had fun with the sniper scope, picking the Crimson one off while it was way high up on its rock. And I found Thunder materia around here, aww yeah. And for some reason, the guard dogs had cardkeys. Who knew?

That was almost immediately followed by a fight with some guys on like hoverbikes or something. I want a hoverbike! Gimme! But no, instead I just use my machine gun to blow them all to little bits, and move on to Edge, where it's raining again. Is it just me, or do most of the scenes in this game take place either at night or in the rain? Or both? Poor tortured Vincent. XD End of chapter! I didn't have nearly as much gil this time around, but I took the EXP anyway to bring Vincent to level 9 and then bought some potions and an upgrade to the Cerberus frame.

Chapter three begins with Lady Stalin, musing about how Weiss' speech about killing everyone was pretty good. Oh ho, that was Weiss, I see. In charge of the Tsviets and thus the Deepground, no doubt. And she's apparently killed every last one of the WRO troops that were here. Yikes.

Meanwhile, Vincent's walking around Edge, which seems to essentially be a ghost town, and runs into/aims a gun at a chick in a lab coat who aims a gun at him in return. But she's WRO, so he puts his gun away and tells her that Reeve sent him. She apparently has a mechanical arm too, go figure. And one functional eye, and holy crap what is she wearing? >_> They converse in the rain, as she explains that she is Shalua Rui (weird name too) and she's not actually here to help me figure out what happened to everyone, but instead she's here...uh...searching for her reason to live. What? Sure, okay.

Here's where I stopped, I made myself a quick save before going anywhere. So far I'm liking it, it doesn't seem to take itself very seriously which is probably best for a game about Vincent. And apparently Shinra-created Russians with superpowers. How busy was Hojo, geez! The gameplay is kind of awkward, but not terrible. I just really wish there was a dodge roll. Just like in FFVII, Vincent's already wielding guns with one hand that are way too big to do that with--I can only imagine what his best weapon will look like in this game. XD

Vincent himself is perfectly tolerable as a protagonist, though his lonerness and general lack of dialogue has so far made him not all that much more interesting than he was in FFVII. We'll see if that improves. Liking the Reeve overload though, good stuff...even if he does lose some of his charm now that there's no Shinra for him to be working for. Ah well. None of the new characters have struck me as particularly great yet, we'll see what happens with them. I am curious about this "proto materia" thing and this "taint" thing. If they were specifically looking for Vincent for this materia, I'm thinking maybe Vincent has something to do with this Deepground project even if he doesn't know it yet. Maybe he was the prototype (proto materia made me think this) for these guys that Hojo developed after putting Vincent to sleep in the mansion. The taint, I don't even have any idea what that's about yet. Will find out next time!

Chapter 3[]

Worry not, now there will be things to read! And hey, yeah, Edge is the town from Advent Children, I recognized the circular thingy in the middle of the square. For some reason in AC I just assumed it was all Midgar. ...wait, is Edge one of the slum towns within Midgar that isn't called by number anymore? That would make the most sense, I guess. It had to have taken place in Midgar because the church was there.

Anyway! Making my way through Edge, in the rain. Apparently, taking one day off from playing put me back at skill level: zero, because I totally sucked during this whole chapter, heh. The snipers actually killed me once, but I had a Phoenix Down going so I didn't technically get a KO. Stupid snipers...there was nowhere I could both hide and see anything, and then for a while I forgot which gun I had equipped because I was stupid and put the sniper scope on two different weapons, and ended up trying to hit a dude from all the way across the square with the normal barrelled gun. Clearly that did not work. Bah. I also managed to entirely forget that my materia existed until the chapter after this. >_>

Eventually, some kid showed up and I followed him through this abandoned building and saved his life a couple of times, and in return he said he'd show me where to get the cardkey to get to the warehouse so I could avenge his parents by getting rid of the Deepground folks there. So I get the cardkey and then escort the kid to the warehouse--not as annoying as escort missions usually are because we only got attacked a few times and he didn't have a lifebar or anything. But man, I definitely could have done better throughout this part. Not sure where I'm supposed to be hiding from the guys on the rooftops, though, especially while crossing bridges and whatnot. Ah well.

At the warehouse, it's boss fight time! Once again, the lack of dodge roll kicks my ass, as I proceed to die twice (used a Phoenix Down both times) before saying "screw it" and Limit Breaking. Raaaaar, Galian Beast time! And then I rip the Heavy Armor guy to shreds. Aww yeah, Vincent. His jump gets crazy while in Limit Break form too, it's great. You know, I think Vincent would be a much more interesting character to me if he ever had internal monologue or showed signs that being a horrific genetic experiment beastman bothered him. >_> I mean, I'm sure it does, but he's just...constantly silent, so it's a little hard to care.

After taking this guy down, I'm on my way back out of town when I run into...Rosso the Crimson. Dun dun dunnnn! She talks about how she's never felt rain or seen the sky until a few days ago--which might be sad if she wasn't a horrible evil mutant killer--and then demands the Protomateria, which is apparently used for controlling something called Omega. Vincent once again has no idea what she means, and kind of just...stares at her. Man of few words, this. So she whips out that cool weapon of hers and tries to kill Vincent, but he's all badass and dodgy, so she kicks it up a notch and reveals that her blade also has a gun in it. Haha, what. But hey, Vincent can dodge bullets too, so eventually she just pounds him in the face and knocks him into a building. Ow.

And then uh...he gets all glowy and here I am expecting Galian Beast or maybe something a little higher level but no, he transforms into some kind of horrific version of himself with huge demony wings and giant claws and whoa. And then he explodes. I guess you just don't mess with Vincent...! Afterward, understandably, he's pretty exhausted, and passes out in the street with Shalua on her way to...help, hopefully.

While he's unconscious, he has some flashbacks--yay! I've been hoping for flashbacks, it'll be nice to get more into Vincent's backstory. First another flashback of talking to Lucrecia (loo-kretz-ee-ya, weeeird) in the cave, in which she apologizes again and says something about "awake." Then a flashback to barging in on Hojo at the mansion and demanding answers, which seems like a terrible idea considering Hojo had a gun and Vincent was apparently unarmed. I suppose Vincent probably didn't see the gun until it was too late. So of course Hojo shot him, and then while he was busy bleeding to death and losing consciousness, Hojo talked to himself about how much of a genius he was and how he could use this body for his next experiment, and how a success would totally justify past failures. Good old Hojo, can always count on him for some grade A creepy! This time, complete with maniacal laughter--yesssss. +3 respect points for Hojo.

The flashback goes on to show Vincent presumably waking up after having been altered and freaking out, turning into the beast. And then...he wakes up again, this time floating in a familiar looking tube, with Lucrecia looking up at him from outside. So much for her having died! Apparently in FFVII Vincent forgot about this crucial bit. I wish these flashbacks were less montagey and more full-fledged scenes like the ones in FFVII! Maybe there will be more later. End of chapter!

Chapter four is entitled "Headquarters Under Siege", which sounds very ominous. Vincent wakes up in a tube again, but we're in the present now, and instead of Lucrecia it's Shalua who is there to greet him. This was just a recovery tube, I guess, and she lets him out and tells him that his inner beast went a little crazy. He asks if she means Chaos. I actually had to go watch all of his FFVII Limit Breaks on youtube to see if Chaos was one of them, because of course I never got them all in my playthrough, and it turns out that it was indeed his final one. Oh ho! Shalua gets all excited--oh man, you have Chaos genes? Were you one of Lucrecia's experiments? ...yikes. Ouch, lady. Rub it in, why don't you? She apologizes for her total lack of tact, but Vincent's more concerned with the fact that Lucrecia was researching Chaos. Whatever Chaos is actually supposed to be. It's a little disturbing to realize that he went all Chaos without knowing it--that can't be good!

Hooray, we'll finally get some actual information about Vincent's transformations! Eventually. For right now, Shalua is talking about Lucrecia's thesis and how it went into detail about Chaos, but Shinra has no actual record of the thesis and all Shalua's seen are fragments of the document. And ah--now it begins to make sense, Lucrecia's apology to Vincent. I bet she wasn't apologizing for what he thought was her shame at participating in the Jenova project. She was apologizing for having run horrific Chaos experiments on him. That's pretty terrible. And when she talks about "awaken", I have a bad feeling that it's Chaos she wants to awaken. But no more time to talk about this, here's Reeve.

But then the scene changes to the tiny creepy chick and Azul, who have been tracking Vincent and now know that he's at the WRO headquarters. Whoops. Time to go take out WRO and get the protomateria at the same time! Under siege, indeed. Meanwhile, back at HQ, Shalua quotes what little she's seen of Lucrecia's thesis--something about Chaos being the squire to Omega, and purging the lifestream to bring about an ultimate fate. Hmmm. I don't remember there being an Omega Weapon or anything in FFVII, so I think this Omega thing is new. We need more info on Lucrecia's work to figure out this protomateria thing...but now we're under attack! Crap!

Azul and the little girl and a bunch of troops smash their way into the building, so Vincent goes out to help defend the place. It occurs to me here that it's nice that Vincent now has an actual reason to be involved in events other than reluctant agreement to help Reeve out--now that it's about Lucrecia, he has a personal stake. So I run through the building, taking out dudes, finding cardkeys, picking up items (like more Limit Breakers, yay!), and buying potions at the jukebox-looking vending machine things. Potions being all I ever really buy because a) I constantly need them and b) they're about all I can afford. >_> I've been pretty hurting for gil lately, but I haven't converted my EXP yet because I feel like gaining levels is important too. I guess we'll see later on how well I'm balancing these things. I was doing much better in this chapter on the whole, though, I guess I just needed to warm up a bit.

And oh god, there was this one hallway where those little shield robots from Crisis Core were all over the place, and I couldn't hit them from the front and thanks to the way the camera works once you have your weapon out, I was having a really hard time getting around to shoot them from behind, and they kept shield-bashing me and comboing me because there were like six of them in a tiny enclosed space. Graaaaggghhh so annoying. They did allow me to discover something, though, which was that Vincent can pull a Dante and hang in midair for a while if you use the machine gun while jumping. Useful! Dunno why this didn't occur to me to try before. But it helped me kill these stupid things, thank god, because they had the cardkey I needed.

Eventually I reach a WRO chick who tells me that they've broken through to the command center--time to go protect Reeve! But when I get there, Cait Sith is going all kung fu on the guys. Psh, he didn't need my help at all! Aww yeah, that's my Reeve. I love the part where Reeve and Cait Sith are there at the same time, and the cat copies all his movements. So great.

Heading back out, then, to find Azul. But as I get close, Shalua catches up with me and points a gun at...an invisible figure following me! It's the teeny tiny creepy girl! And oh hey, they have a history together. Turns out that this is Shelke, Shalua's little sister, who...hasn't aged in the last 10 years. Waagh. Gotta say, this scene would have been a lot better if the game had made me care even a little about Shalua, but it really didn't. >_> Shelke is pretty cool though, I like her design if nothing else. She's got this double energy sword whip thing, it's kinda badass. So apparently, Shinra abducted Shelke ten years ago and used her for mako infusion experiments, and now if she doesn't get a daily dose of mako she'll just crash and burn. Shalua just loses it entirely, and then I'm not entirely sure what happened--Reeve shot the sprinkler to set it off, and Shelke almost chopped Shalua's head off but then didn't. I couldn't tell if the water shorted out her weapons or if she just stopped herself from attacking or what. So Vincent and Shalua and Reeve run off into a corner somewhere, and Reeve gives me tranq bullets (for ALL my guns, apparently) so that I don't have to kill Shelke.

Boss fight time! Now this was a fun fight. She was all over the damn screen, but because she wasn't using projectile weapons, I could actually use my dash to dodge her if I was careful with the timing. I ran out of machine gun ammo halfway through and ended up having to try to peg her with the Cerberus and lightning--took some doing, but I managed to beat her. Woo! Oh, and apparently Shelke's color in the Tsviets is "transparent." Riiiight. Because that's totally a color. XD

But we're not done yet, because Azul is still here--and I mean right here. He asks Vincent if he knows why he exists, to which Vincent has no reply (as usual). Aw, poor Vincent, unaware of his own destiny. Or something. So now Azul wants to show me all about it! And take the protomateria. Vincent's gun does nothing whatever, since Azul has this huge shield, but Reeve is here to save the day once again with a ginormous rocket launcher. Oh man, why can't I have this thing outside cutscenes? But no, it's just a cinematic way of getting rid of Azul's shield...and holy crap, Vincent Valentine made a joke. What is the world coming to! "You shouldn't leave these things lying around." :P I mean, unless he was being serious, which in and of itself is pretty funny, heh.

Unfortunately, all it did was break his shield, and now he's got the giant rocket launcher. Crap. Vincent tells Reeve to book it--more boss fight! This was fun too, though man, one hit from that thing was pretty much an insta-kill if I was at anything other than full health. I did KO on this one once, whoops. I was more careful to keep moving the second time, and did much better--I loved having the explosive barrels around so that I could maneuver him around the room and then shoot the barrels and do lots of damage. My favorite was the way I ended the fight--I got him to run underneath this ledge that had two barrels on it, and the barrels fell down and then I shot them and they exploded and killed him. Huzzah!

"You may think this is the end, but..." *die* Yeah, looks like the end to me, buddy. Then, talking to Reeve, it appears that Vincent wants to go to Nibelheim. OH MAN! The manor here we goooooo. I hope they do it justice. Presumably he wants to go there to discover more about Lucrecia's work--good thinking, Vincent. Reeve says, well, there are a lot of Deepground troops there, so if you want to get in alive you'll probably be best off going through the sewer system. "Sewer? How appropriate is that." Ouch. Wow, Vincent's actually showing some personality here. First a quasi-joke, and now bitter sarcasm. I'm liking this. And once Vincent leaves, Reeve decides that he and Cait Sith are going to find out more about Deepground.

Here's where I stopped. Pretty good stuff! Really liking Vincent's development, lots more screentime for Reeve, some juicy Hojo/Lucrecia-related plot revelations, and Shelke is surprisingly cool for a DoC-exclusive character. The others, not so much, but meh, I can live with that. Curious about this Chaos thing, what Omega is, what the protomateria is exactly, all of that. It'll be pretty traumatic if it turns out that Lucrecia really did just use Vincent to run her Chaos experiments. I'm hoping Vincent will continue to open up a little and become more interesting, give more reactions to things, etc. Especially things like accidentally transforming into Chaos and demolishing a city block's worth of stuff. >_>

Chapter 4[]

So, time to infiltrate Nibelheim. Oh man! Here we go. Vincent trudges through the sewers for a while and ends up in a warehouse type place, which I suppose is underneath the mansion--there's apparently more basement than even what we saw in Crisis Core. I get rid of all the guys in this room only to find myself in a storage room with apparently neverending enemies, though I didn't realize that until after I freaking died once trying to get rid of them all. Augh. So I ended up doing the sewers twice, but they're not that long, so that's okay. The second time I realized the enemies in that storage room weren't actually stopping and so I just grabbed the items and got out of there, and headed up in the elevator.

Run around, grab some stuff, take out some guys--it seems that this time the break didn't do much to my ability to use the battle system, awesome--and eventually there was a big room where I was up on a high bridge and all the doors shut and these big panels on the walls opened and guys were shooting at me from them like a big gauntlet, so I had to take them all out before the doors would open again. That was kind of cool, it helped me work on my accuracy with the Cerberus. Then eventually I got onto another elevator--cue flashback!

Vincent flashes back to the day he met Lucrecia, and we get our first clear look at what Vincent looked like back when he was just a normal dude. His eyes were always a funky color, I guess, but hey. He introduces himself and she...flips out? "*gasp* Why would they send his..." And Vincent's all confused. Why would they send whose what now? Innnteresting. For some reason in my head I finish that sentence with "son", though I have no indication whatsoever that that's what she was going to say. Just an instinct, I guess. ...wait, wait, they're not going to make Hojo Vincent's father, are they? Haha, that would be hilarious. No, I have no grounds for any of this speculation, heh.

And then we switch to a cutscene of Cait Sith infiltrating a reactor. Right, Reeve was going to find out what precisely Deepground was up to. And then...uh...oh man what. I get to control Cait Sith! Bahahahaha, this was so awesome. Whee! It was stealth, which I'm generally terrible at (see also: Zack at the factory), but it was really easy stealth, so I made it through in one piece. ...barely. >_> Eventually Cait Sith reaches a huge vat of what I guess is mako of some kind, and the container of people kidnapped from Kalm (those that Weiss marked as "pure", if I recall) is dumped into the vat...and a giant-ass hand comes out and catches it and pulls it under. Whoa. And then Cait Sith is spotted by...some dude...who looks like Vincent but is dressed funny. And Cait Sith refers to him as "Nero the Sable" (which I had to look up in the script because with that accent I can't understand a word Cait Sith says). Uhhhhh what? And then this Nero guy does some mojo and Caith Sith vanishes in a blob of darkness--just like those guys in Edge!--and then there's a moogle doll floating around in the vat. Did he like...transform Cait Sith into a stuffed moogle...? How bizarre. Not that it matters, Reeve can always just get another cat...!

Back to Vincent, and oh man I'm beginning to recognize the basement of the mansion--I'm still in the tunnels bit from Crisis Core, and there are a few rooms here I don't know, but I'm getting closer. After getting rid of a few Deepground guys, I find a room where there's a materia that activates as Vincent picks it up...and Lucrecia appears. Whoa! But it's not really her, it's a hologram, programmed to tell him things, apparently. She must have recorded this after Vincent started sleeping and figured he'd be bound to wake up at some point, so she left her notes on Omega scattered around for him to find. Why she didn't leave them all right there so it would be easy for him to find them, I have no idea...but hey. She also has some kind of flashback or something while she's explaining some things about Omega.

It turns out that the quote from her thesis that Shalua knew was actually something Lucrecia read in the lore of the Ancients. Oh ho. And Omega is apparently a being that sleeps, and if he wakes up he's going to destroy all life on the planet. Another planet-wide crisis, eh? There's that mention of Chaos being Omega's squire again; I have to wonder, if Lucrecia knew this stuff, why would she do experiments with Chaos? There has to be more to this than I know yet, and presumably I'll learn it once the disks I picked up at the mansion are deciphered. At the moment, though, the hologram has vanished, leaving Vincent once again alone in the mansion with Deepground, pondering her final words: "Just remember...I'm so sorry." Eep, she's apologizing again, that can't be good.

I deactivate some mines (some of them the way I'm supposed to and some of them with my hit points...) and make my way through the basement until I come across a room I definitely recognize--and Vincent must, too. Coffins, woo! There was a dude in here, apparently, waiting for intruders or something. How macabre. I keep wondering why Hojo even had this room. >_> And then I come up a very familiar wooden spiral staircase into the mansion proper. This was all pretty neat, seeing the mansion after Shinra has moved out entirely and abandoned Nibelheim. Most of the furniture and everything is gone, everything is cobwebbed and dusty, empty storage crates and broken shelves are lying around everywhere.

I go around the mansion finding Lucrecia's files on Omega, and end up in a back room where Vincent gets a sudden headache and experiences another flashback to being inside one of those liquid-filled pods with Lucrecia looking up at him. When it ends...everyone's favorite homicidal communist lady is there, and she's calling Vincent things like "my love" and "darling." Kind of disturbing. She describes how the Tsviets and the other Deepground soldiers woke up three years ago and went on a killing spree, and says that Vincent should understand, because he is the same! Then she runs off like a coward while a big robot machine thing tosses grenades at Vincent. Get back here! Vincent doesn't approve of your murderous tendencies!

I run after her, but when I get to the foyer (which is filled with debris and junk, making it harder to dodge things here) the robot--the Black Widow--turns and attacks me. Boss fight! Augh, this thing hit so hard. It wasn't that hard to dodge as long as I kept moving...until a pillar or some random piece of scenery lying around on the floor got in my way, at which point I'd go to dash-dodge away from the robot's giant laser or it deciding to launch itself at me and end up getting hit anyway because the camera wasn't pointed at whatever it was I'd run up against. Blagh. I actually got a game over right before I was about to kill it, because I'd forgotten to Phoenix Down earlier and the damn thing cornered me. The second time I managed to win by blowing through two Phoenix Downs and all my MP for Thunder, and then just shooting repeatedly at it with the Griffon and running around in circles until it died. Hoo.

After the fight, Vincent lowers his weapon...only for Rosso to run up from somewhere and impale him through the chest with her hand and then pull out a giant materia. Gah! Ow! The Protomateria, I presume. It's got outer space or something inside it, weird! She taunts Vincent and laughs at him, and he briefly changes into Chaos while bleeding to death on the floor, to which she responds "oh, so you can't control the beast without this? Meh, I'm about to kill you anyway, it doesn't matter" and bends down to finish the job. Oh no!

And then a giant shuriken flies in and interrupts, and a mysterious cloaked figure oh man who could it possibly be bounces around the room to distract Rosso with acrobatics and a really bright light, long enough to grab Vincent and escape. Hooray for Yuffie! Never thought I'd say that. >_> Rosso's pissed and throws a little tantrum, but chills out when she realizes that it doesn't matter whether he lives or not--the end is near. *cue dramatic music*

Oooh, flashback! It's Hojo, woo! I'm not sure why they were trying to hide his face in the shadows, as if somehow the player would have no idea who it was. I guess if for some ridiculous reason you were playing this without having played FFVII, uhhh...? But anyway, this is a scene in which Hojo and Lucrecia confirm for Vincent that yes, in fact, Lucrecia is going to be involved in the Jenova project. Vincent's pretty taken aback--using your own child for an experiment sounds pretty wrong to him!--but Hojo is not interested in what he has to say and Lucrecia...gets emotional about it, but makes her choice clear.

One interesting line here, when Vincent asks her if she's sure, and she replies "Am I sure?? If this only concerns me, then yes, I'm sure!" I'm not certain exactly what she was getting at there; maybe she'd expected Vincent to think a little more big picture, or maybe she'd expected (wanted?) him to come out and say 'I love you and I don't want you to have Hojo's babies.' The latter would be my automatic assumption if it weren't for that one flashback in FFVII that seemed to indicate he did tell her he loved her and she didn't respond favorably. Of course, there was no dialogue in it because it was during a huge montage, so I could have misinterpreted that, who knows?

But either way, there Vincent goes again, blaming himself for not being more insistent that she not go through with it and allowing all the events with Sephiroth to take place. It makes a little more sense now that he's blaming himself, since Lucrecia made it sound like there were things he could have said to convince her not to do it and he kinda wussed out on them. Another brief flashback, once again of him waking up in the mansion later after having been altered and freaking out upon seeing what had been done to him. I really like that they're putting these in here, it's making him a more sympathetic character to see that he really did have reactions to this stuff once, it really does bother him. Then he has another dream about talking to Lucrecia in the cave, and she says some things I can't make out because her voice is all echoey and weird, and then she apologizes again before he wakes up.

...to the sight of Yuffie. Only somehow he doesn't recognize her. I guess he didn't get a chance to see the shuriken and stuff, given that he was busy getting his insides ripped out at the time. Haha, man, she is so annoying. At least in this game she's annoying in an amusing way. She takes advantage of Vincent not recognizing her to make a huge poetic speech about the white rose of Wutai, blah blah!...and she strikes a pose up on the chair and then falls off it and hits her head on the wall. See? Amusing!

I actually kind of liked this conversation they had. Yuffie's total lack of tact is pretty funny, when she's like "Man, I thought you were a goner, but your wound just healed itself right up. You were always different, but I guess that's why you're still breathing!" Gosh, thanks, Yuffie. She goes on to babble about how she saved the great Vincent Valentine ("I found you looking all corpselike" XD) and does she get any thanks? And whoa, Vincent actually...almost chuckles. And then he thanks her. Whoooaaa. She's surprised too, actually kind of embarrassed knowing that he might have taken her seriously. So she changes the subject--time to call Reeve.

Reeve says that "using you-know-who" he infiltrated Midgar and found Omega. (I don't know why they keep avoiding talking about Cait Sith. It's like they think if they say it out loud it will stop working or something.) So the WRO is planning an attack as soon as everyone gathers, and so we're headed back to headquarters. And then Yuffie babbles on and on about how many minutes it will take her to beat up those Deepground punks while Vincent lies back down and ignores her--he probably has a headache in addition to the recently-healed chest wound, honestly. :P

And then we get a scene with Shelke and Shalua. The former wakes up and takes back her weapon, and the latter tries to be all tough and confident after her earlier total breakdown. Ha. Shelke goes all glowy-eyes and tells Shalua she was an idiot for letting her enemy live, and that she's going to kill Shalua and return to Deepground. And Shalua's all "yeah right, whatever, I'm not letting you do that" and Shelke's like psh, I don't need your permission and Shalua replies "I don't remember you ever winning any of our fights, do you? Come on, bring it." Uhhh...hate to tell you, Shalua, but you're kind of missing an eye and your left arm doesn't work and Shelke's been seriously mako-enhanced. But hey, do what you like.

Oh, and it seems that Azul isn't as dead as he seemed. Huh. And...oh. Crap. Headquarters is under attack again. I guess Azul wasn't kidding when he told Vincent it wasn't the end! He must have pretended to be dead so he could help take them down from the inside when Deepground troops returned. Whoops! And then one of those heavily armored guys with the giant rocket launchers...shows up at Reeve's office. !! Noooo go away, don't kill Reeve! He doesn't have a cat to defend him now! D:

But I have no idea what happens to him next because the scene changes, back to Vincent and Yuffie, whose truck crashes when the driver gets attacked by some robots. Yuffie is bowled over (again) and smacks her head on the wall (again), and is out for the count. So Vincent gets out to go see what's going on...leaving Yuffie and the driver alone and vulnerable in the crashed truck. Well...uh...surely they'll be fine...!

That's where I stopped, after taking out a few robots and grabbing some MP. We're in the middle of nowhere but not far from headquarters. A lot of interesting Lucrecia-related stuff going on, and I'm beginning to get a glimpse of the larger picture. This Weiss guy wants Omega to awaken and destroy the planet, for whatever reason, and it seems like Vincent--with his Chaos genes--could be the key to something or other. If Chaos is supposed to be Omega's squire, I have a bad feeling about this destiny that Azul said Vincent had, especially if he's transforming into Chaos uncontrollably now. Yikes! (Though he was doing it uncontrollably before, too, and Rosso hadn't taken the Protomateria yet. Maybe it was reacting to her...? I dunno.)

Oh, you know what, I just had a thought. Lucrecia did her homework, she knew what Omega was and that if it woke up the planet would be finished. Maybe she did the experiments with Chaos in order to create someone who could defeat Omega if that happened. She keeps apologizing to Vincent because she feels bad about having gotten him involved, but if this is the case she must have had a lot of faith in him. Now, this doesn't explain Hojo's involvement--and it was pretty clearly Hojo who did at least some of the experiments on Vincent--but it might explain Lucrecia's. Interesting.

Gameplaywise, not much has changed. I've upgraded everything at least once now, some things twice. I'm continuing to use the XP to level Vincent instead of getting money, which is probably keeping me alive, honestly. Oh, and I got a thingy that I can equip to shift the balance of a gun more toward the power end, which is cool. Also Blizzard materia, meaning that I now have all three of the normal elemental attacks. I'd assume that some enemies in this game have elemental weaknesses just like any other FF game, but other than lightning for the machines I haven't really run across any obvious ones yet.

I'm starting to wonder whether the other FFVII characters are going to show up or whether we've just got Vincent, Reeve, and Yuffie. I guess that's fair, given that they were the three least developed characters in FFVII itself, but it still would be cool to see what everyone else is up to post-AC other than running a delivery service. Ah well, I'll find out soon enough whether or not they're here!

Oh, character ranking, ummmm.

Hojo > Vincent > Reeve/Cait Sith > Shelke > Yuffie >>> Lucrecia >>>>> Rosso > Azul > Shalua

Shalua is a terrible character. >_> I don't think I missed anyone. Yeah, I think Shalua tops Hollander as the worst FFVII universe character. Bleh.

Chapter 5[]

A heck of a lot of interesting stuff this time. I'm getting pretty close to the final stretch, I think. So first, I have to make my way back to headquarters from the site of our crashed truck, taking out mutant dog things and some soldiers on the way. My accuracy with the Cerberus is much better than it was, I'm pretty proud of myself--I'm generally bad at shooters, third-person or not, but I've got the hang of this one pretty well I think. I've also gotten better with spotting enemies far away before they see me and picking them off with the sniper rifle.

Eventually I hit an enemy campsite just outside WRO headquarters, and the game gives me a beautiful place to snipe from--this ledge that overlooks the camp that has just enough of a lip on it for me to duck behind while I aim and reload. Between the explosive canisters and my sniper rifle, I manage to take out the whole camp in fairly short order, and then it's just a matter of looting the place and heading on inside. Woohoo! I feel like maybe I'm supposed to be limit breaking more often, because three or four times now the game has tried to give me limit breakers but I'm already carrying the maximum number I can. Come to think of it, I've only used the limit break twice, during big boss fights. I figure I'll save them for stuff like Rosso.

After this, I find the outskirts of the WRO complex, where a slew of troops are trying to hold off Deepground choppers that are firing missiles at us. At first I was just using my own gun, but then I noticed the anti-aircraft machine gun sitting there. Yoink! It made it a little harder to dodge missiles, but it was worth it. I only ended up taking down 11 of the 15 helicopters, alas. Then I head further inside, to a big storage area with a lot of catwalks that once again allow me to practice my duck-and-snipe skills, woo! Up the stairs, only to find another Black Widow robot and a bunch of troops coming to get me. Wagh! Much easier this time, though, because the area is more open, there are places to take cover, and my stats are better now. A couple Thunder blasts and a lot of ammo later, I leave the robot behind and enter the building.

This place is in terrible shape! I run around, helping the WRO troops and taking out enemies, until I run into...Azul the Huge Beast. Well then! I thought there was going to be a boss fight here, but instead there's a cutscene, in which Shelke and Shalua catch up with me, Azul smacks Shalua and Vincent around, and then he tries to kill Shelke. Oh ho. It turns out that Shelke was only useful to them because she had Lucrecia's data on the Protomateria and Chaos and whatnot in her brai--uh, "neural network." Now that they have the materia and thus have no more use for that data, they want to cover their asses by eliminating her so that the WRO can't get the info.

Shelke is understandably taken aback, but Shalua grabs her and runs with Vincent close behind. Except that Shelke appears not to want to come, too confused yet to call anyone ally. So Shalua shoves her mechanical arm in the closing door, in order to allow Shelke to go through with Vincent. Cue semi-dramatic "I'll always love you, I'm sorry I was a sucky sister" speech, and then the door crushes her arm and there's a horrible THWACK and a puddle of blood pools under the door. ...no, it's not blood, it's something weird and shiny and not red. Uh? But no time to worry about that, I guess, we've gotta go find Reeve (don't be dead, Reeve!). Alas, Shalua has died. I don't really feel that sad about it. >_>

In Reeve's office, Vincent finds him alive (whew!) but upset that Reeve the Hero of the Jenova War got his ass kicked without his stuffed cat around to protect him and let the enemy destroy his headquarters. Whoops. Poor Reeve. But Vincent makes him feel better--haha what! Vincent Valentine, cheering people up, what is this--and tells him not to give up, and then we skip ahead to talking with Yuffie in the room with the recovery pods. Oh, Shalua's not dead, she's just suffered horrible head trauma and is in a coma. Man, that kind of kills the drama of the last scene. I didn't care that much about Shalua's sacrifice to begin with, but now I care even less because I'm sure by the end of the game they'll have found a way to fix her. Bleh.

Anyway, Yuffie is all upset about Shalua's condition and yells at Vincent about not having saved her, and then Shelke comes in and wonders why Shalua would do such a thing--she can't understand this idea of giving your life for someone else. She calls Shalua a fool, which prompts Yuffie to slap her and then run off angrily, and Shelke's like "...what?" What I found interesting about this scene was the subsequent conversation in which Vincent tries to explain why people are willing to sacrifice themselves for other people they really care about...and then he considers that a lot of people he knows are willing to sacrifice themselves for other people they don't even know. It's kind of neat that Vincent just doesn't see himself as doing the same thing, even after he came back to the Highwind to help Cloud and the others defeat Sephiroth despite already having dealt with Hojo, and even after he agreed to help Reeve before he even knew that Lucrecia was involved.

Then Shelke almost falls over--still injured, I imagine--and Vincent catches her, and it triggers a flashback. A cute little scene in which Lucrecia teases Vincent for having fallen asleep "on the job" and then reveals that she's brought a picnic for them, and he spends the whole time flustered and trying not to look silly in front of her. Man, he really just never was good at talking to people, was he. It seems that his default reaction to a difficult social situation was simply to say nothing at all--a habit that eventually got him and everyone else into a lot of trouble. And it's nice that we're getting to see why Vincent fell in love with Lucrecia--she was kind, and she seems to have gone out of her way to try to bring a shy and quiet guy out of his shell.

After the flashback, it becomes clear that Vincent and Shelke shared that memory. She wonders why "her data fragments are responding", it seems that Lucrecia's data having been housed inside of Shelke is causing some weird memory transferral or something. But then Reeve comes in, interrupting her thought process, and says no, we're not going to give up, you're right--let's get moving with this assault on Midgar. Though as it turns out, even with all the Omega Reports Vincent got from the mansion, the data on Omega is incomplete. Oh no! But not to fear, Shelke explains that by combining the data she has with the data they've collected, they might be able to piece together the rest of what Lucrecia found. And as an added bonus, she might be able to regain control of her mind. Whoa. Looks like it wasn't just Lucrecia's data that got uploaded, it was actually bits of her memory. Which explains the flashback incident. (...kinda.)

Then Yuffie starts yelling, and we go up to meet her...and a whole freaking fleet of airships has arrived, with Cid at its head! YESSSSS CID WOOOO!! awww yeah, rest of the cast, let's do this. End of chapter! Man, my accuracy rating at the end of this was nowhere near as high as I felt like it should have been. Bah. I blame the Griffon.

Next chapter! We're on board the ship wooooo! It's no Highwind, but I guess it's pretty cool anyway. Especially the room with the ceiling that changes patterns. I have time now to run around and talk to a bunch of NPCs--this is really the first time in the whole game that I've gotten to do this, it's cool. Some of the crew of the Shera talk about their views on war, or how they're going to do their best, or whatnot, but a few of them have interesting information. One of them talks about how Midgar has been totally ruined ever since Meteorfall, home only to vagrants and forgotten soldiers. Then another one explains that in fact, it's forgotten SOLDIERs--Deepground started out as a facility for wounded SOLDIERs, but thanks to a rogue SOLDIER known as "G" it evolved into an experimental laboratory for breeding killers. ...oh god, he's talking about Genesis. So my interpretation of this is that Deepground started when Genesis was taken from Banora back to Shinra, and Hojo got his hands on Genesis' DNA and used it to create these mutant warriors. Freaking Genesis.

Yuffie's airsick again, what else is new, and I get to have a few conversations with Cid. He tells me that Reeve was the one who put up the money for this fleet of airships, which seem to have been not built but excavated from some ancient civilization. The engineers don't even know how half of it works. Very safe...! Technology from the Cetra, maybe. That's pretty cool. Cid wonders where Reeve got the money from, and then I go talk to Reeve himself. Apparently, Reeve doesn't know who his benefactor is, he's only met with representatives. But he trusts the dude, since he can't see what ulterior motive someone could have for funding an organization that helps the planet. He says he gets the feeling the man feels that he owes a debt to the planet...and yeah, he's probably talking about Genesis too, I bet. I guess he feels bad that he terrorized the world and his genes were used for horrible abominations that are trying to kill everyone. Should have thought of that before, eh?

The other NPCs were pretty cool too--I loved the guy who had orders not to let anyone through the door he was guarding, but he was clearly petrified of Vincent, heh--and then eventually I talk to Shelke in the sickbay, who's creating a way to link herself into the ship's computer so that she can upload Lucrecia's data. Then I go back to the bridge, where Cid says that "our old buddies" are going to lead the ground assault. OH YEAH, I know who that is!

Lo and behold, an FMV cutscene. Oh man, this is so great. Barret and Tifa are driving this assault truck and then they open up the back and Cloud comes out on Fenrir to lead the charge, woo! Then back to the ship, where Reeve uses Cait Sith to give Shelke the signal to start the data upload. The shiny thing on the bridge projects a 360 degree illusion of space, reminiscent of Bugenhagen's thingy in FFVII--actually, given that Cosmo Canyon was supposed to be this bastion of knowledge about the planet, and that this airship is salvaged from ancient times, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the same as Bugenhagen's device. Pretty sweet.

And Lucrecia narrates the data, which talks about how Omega is one of the Weapons created by the planet to protect itself (oh ho, Omega Weapon indeed) and what it's supposed to do is wait until there's a threat to the planet and then gather up all life into the lifestream and leave to fly through space looking for somewhere else to thrive. Just like the Ancients! (Why this didn't activate along with the other Weapons when Meteor fell, I have no idea, but hey.)

Unfortunately, Weiss is cleansing the lifestream by killing lots of innocents--thus sending all the purest souls back to the lifestream--in order to trick the planet into thinking it's being threatened because tons of innocent people are dying. Wow. That's...actually fairly clever. I'm still not sure what he needed the Protomateria for (how the hell did Hojo get his hands on this in the first place to surgically insert it into Vincent's chest? I guess Lucrecia found it during her studies or something) but I guess I'll find out. It turns out that Weiss is using the old Shinra mako reactors to power the awakening of Omega, right underneath reactor 0...Shinra headquarters. Ooooh. So Cloud and those guys are going to be shutting off the power to the reactor while the air fleet deploys troops and keeps the reactors' defenses occupied...and Vincent, by himself, deals with the Tsviets.

Haha, what! This is so MGS. "This is a one man sneaking mission." :P Then I go around and talk to everyone again--Shelke is reliving some of Lucrecia's memories with Vincent and starting to understand what it means to care for someone, Reeve managed to salvage Cait Sith #5 from the wreckage of the WRO headquarters, Yuffie is still sick but also worried about Wutai since it got attacked too--and then...

As Vincent is walking through an empty corridor, he suddenly doubles over in pain...and involuntarily turns into Chaos. Gah! Not good! He manages to regain control by hallucinating that Lucrecia is there, but man, this is bad. He wonders whether he's losing control, and doubles over again...and Shelke is behind him and notices this, and says nothing. Uh oh. Is she still working for the Tsviets, maybe? Or does she just not care? Or something else? Ooooh, worrisome.

But then, later, it's time to go. Dun dun dun, assault on Midgar, commence! Cid has pretty much the greatest inspirational speech in the world here, I love it so much. "If any more of you are killed by those punks, I'll drag you back from hell and kill you again!" XD Cid is freaking awesome. Then Vincent and Reeve and Shelke are making final preparations, and it turns out that Shelke has Vincent's phone, which she found in Kalm where he'd left it. Uhhhh. Maybe that was just a coincidence, or maybe she took it then because she was tracking him and wanted to use it to help. Either way, I can't shake the feeling that something weird is going on here. She's modified the phone so that she can upload her information to it (it's a codec...!) and see, that doesn't help my paranoia! But we'll see, I suppose.

The rest of this scene does kind of indicate that she's on the level, though, because she gets flustered when it seems like she might be helping Vincent for anything other than selfish reasons, and then after Reeve and Vincent leave she seems like she might have almost decided she's got someone else to fight for. Maybe the weird vibe I'm getting isn't treason, maybe it's Shelke getting too entangled in Lucrecia's memories and developing feelings for Vincent or something. Wagh, bizarre.

Oh hell yeah, kickass FMV time. Those hoverboard things they use for the troop drop are so awesome. I want one...! I was hoping they would let me control Vincent during the descent, but they didn't, lame. Oh well. It was still cool to watch. Badassery ensues, and then Vincent lands along with a bunch of WRO guys, and all of them are apparently not at the landing point they were supposed to have hit. So I have to escort these guys to the central complex, which is my destination. Turns out I can only enter Deepground from the upper level of the central complex--sounds like the top of the Shinra building to me...! Oh man. This is going to be cool. As it is, I'm wandering around the ruins of sector 7 (how can we even still do this, the plate smashed it all flat) and the train graveyard. Sweeeeet.

I like how the troops all hold Vincent in such high regard and they want to come with him and everything, and he just has no idea at all how to respond. He is not the leader type in the least, heh. So I get them there (one casualty, it was the chick who talked about how she'd grown up in sector 7, I felt really bad <_<) and then Vincent insists that they not come any further after a point. You heard what Cid said--your job is to live. If you come with me, you'll probably all die. So they agree, and I go on alone. There's a boss fight with some aerial troops, which was kind of a neat fight except it almost owned me because I was having trouble finding a) places to take cover and b) the guys I was supposed to be shooting. I pulled through, though, and at the end there's this cutscene of Vincent kicking the last guy's ass by leaping up into the air, kicking the dude in the face, and then shooting him down as he flips around and lands all badass and cool. Still no Dante, but hey, he tries. :P

That's where I stopped. A few really good scenes in there--the one where Vincent transformed into Chaos was well-done, a lot of it was from a first-person camera placement, good stuff--and how can you go wrong with more FMV Cloud? Oh, I forgot, there was also this part in that FMV scene where Rosso saw Cloud leading the charge and dove down to fight him, and he got out his giant sword and jumped up and they clashed in the air, it was pretty cool. Would have been cooler if it hadn't just ended with a big flash of light, but that's okay. Also Barret's truck and Cid's ship both had missiles how great is that. There was also a brief scene with Azul and Rosso and Nero, who yeah, has to be like a Vincent clone or something. Looking forward to hearing that explanation. Oh yeah, and I upgraded my mid-range barrel to have a higher firing rate, which has made a pretty significant difference.

Man, I've been shooting those secret targets that are hidden all around the various chapters, but they haven't unlocked a single thing in the extra features. Is there something else I'm missing here?

No changes to the character ranking, there's no point adding the other FFVII characters since they were really there just to show up. Cid was awesome but Cid is always awesome, heh. My one major complaint about the game, I guess, is that the soundtrack is on the whole pretty meh. I was hoping some of the stuff from FFVII--the mansion, Cid--would have the old music like Crisis Core did, but no dice. Oh well. One or two of the songs have been pretty good, anyway.

Addendum[]

Totally unrelated, but I just had the urge to beat Sephiroth in KH2 and watch the Cloud vs. Sephiroth cutscene there, and I remembered it being hard before but it was disappointingly easy (okay, so I was level 91, but still...!). Alas. I'd also forgotten how annoying they made Tifa in that game and how vague they were with what even happened, heh.

I also did a few Crisis Core missions yesterday, the Shinra training ones where you have to beat increasingly larger numbers of infantry. The second to last one (haven't done it yet) was 1000 guys. XD Just like Sora!

Zack for KH3 let's do this.

Chapter 6[]

Not too much time to play tonight, but I finished the chapter I was on and started the next one.

First, I finish making my way through the train graveyard and find myself in the central complex with some WRO fellows along for the ride. Unfortunately most of them died when the stupid huge robots rushed us and exploded on impact. >_> I feel bad every time I fail utterly to protect them, but hey--Vincent told them not to come with him, it's not his fault they're not listening! Some neat little things the game does here, like stacking explosive barrels on top of breakable crates so that I have to be careful when I break them open, but I can use them to dump onto enemies' heads, heh. And the two places where they give me a stationary mounted machine gun are awesome--time to go to town! Oh, and somewhere in here I found a "G Report," which I imagine must be one of the hidden files. Huzzah!

Eventually I finish escorting the WRO guys and hit an elevator, which takes me up to the roof of the complex--up to what used to be the top of the plate--and lo, there is Rosso the Crimson. Odd, I kind of thought she'd end up being the last of the Tsviets I fought before Weiss, but she even comes before Azul, apparently. She tells Vincent that he shouldn't be calling himself a human, but she can't deny that he's at least more human than she is--she's basically a monster, and she loves it. Down with the world, mwahaha! Starting with you, Vincent Valentine. Boss fight time!

For some reason the first time I tried this fight it was really hard. I kept trying to stick close to her so I wouldn't lose her in my targeting sights since she dashes around like crazy, but if you get too close she melee combos you for a billion damage. So then I tried to keep my distance but then I couldn't keep a lock on her and it was hard to deal any damage. Then I tried limit breaking and that didn't do much either except keep me alive for a while, because while the homing projectile is kickass and does some decent damage, she dodged it half the time, and since the target lock-on doesn't keep the camera locked on I kept losing track of where she was. And the Galian Beast is best with melee, but every time I tried she interrupted me with her own stupid combo. And the Beast's dash sucks horribly, so once she went to her second "form" it was hard for me to dodge her projectiles while limit breaking. Eventually I just ran out of items and died (right before I remembered I had a Phoenix Down, bah).

But the second time it ended up being a lot easier. I knew her pattern better and had figured out that using the Cerberus was actually better than using the Griffon (despite the fight suggesting the Griffon by having ammo for it all over the place) because it was more reliable, did more damage, and didn't need to reload as often. So my strategy for a while consisted of shooting her repeatedly while continually backing up--if I was constantly moving backwards, it was harder for her to land her melee combo. Materia didn't do much, unfortunately, she was too fast for it. Then when she went to her second form I found that if I kept shooting while continually moving sideways it was easier to dodge the projectiles without having to dash and thus put my gun down and have the camera lose track of her entirely. Spent a lot fewer items the second time around and beat her pretty soundly. One weird thing: the second time through I tried to Limit Break and it wouldn't let me. I have no idea why, but I'd try to use the item and Vincent just wouldn't do it. Can you not use the Limit Break on a restart or something? Bizarre.

Anyway, after I beat her she goes all "you can't have the pleasure of killing Rosso the Crimson, instead I'm going to chop off the part of the roof I'm standing on and plummet to my death while laughing maniacally!" More power to you, chica, go for it. Vincent just watches her fall and really, I doubt he's much impressed, though of course he doesn't say anything.

Next scene! I'm approaching the Shinra Building (oooooh) and it's in pretty sad shape due to the havoc Meteor wrought on it when it fell (not to mention the carnage Weapon brought about beforehand). But Shelke calls (I love how she always refers to him by his whole name) and tells him that despite its being mostly destroyed, he can get inside using the president's private entrance. Cool. I'm pretty pumped to see it in good graphics, mostly-destroyed or not. She also says that the ground squads haven't been able to get past Deepground to shut off the power to the reactors. Psh, what? Come on, Cloud, what are you doing? Get on that, man!

So, time to go. Except uh...Chaos is acting up again. Not a good time! Shelke knows something's wrong when Vincent stops responding over the phone and she hears bestial roaring noises--a pretty obvious sign of Bad Things, really--and oooh, Vincent with glowy red eyes looks pretty cool. But he soon regains control and wonders, why now, Chaos? Shelke explains to him a bunch of stuff I already knew and stuff that he should already have known (I guess the game figured it had to spell it out?)--that the Protomateria was what gave him control over Chaos and now that it's gone he can't control it anymore, Chaos is supposed to gather all life in preparation for Omega carrying it away, etc.--and somewhere halfway through the explanation he starts hallucinating Lucrecia's presence again, as Shelke gets kind of taken over by Lucrecia's "data". She tells him she's sorry and that she doesn't want him to die--

--oh crap, something's going on up on the Shera. Shelke's VR interface sparks and fizzles, and she goes to the bridge to see what's wrong. Cid informs her that the engine room has stopped responding, but the ship hasn't sustained any external damage--what's going on? She goes to check it out, and now a third person is counting on her, of which she fully grasps the importance. She arrives in the engine room to find the crew all gone and Cait Sith #5 out of commission (noooo Cait Sith!), and in their stead there are simply patches of darkness. Ohhhh, this again--and sure enough, this Nero the Sable guy is here. He's so freaky! He's like Vincent + Anima + some kind of android. He tells Shelke that he was short a few souls, so he came to collect, and what is she doing here anyway?

...huh. Short a few souls, eh? Kind of sounds like Chaos to me, gathering life? Gathering souls? And he does seem to be some kind of weird Vincent clone or something. And Lucrecia/Shelke did say something about Chaos existing outside Vincent's body. But this makes no sense, Vincent transforms into Chaos. What the hell is this Nero guy? The game isn't ready to explain this to me yet, though--instead it gives me the culmination of Shelke's character development, as she decides that she doesn't want to let down people who are counting on her and takes out her weapon to fight Nero. Woo! Go Shelke! I have to say, I was really hoping the game would let me control her and give this to me as a boss fight, but it didn't, lame. I feel like playing as Shelke would be fun. But they sort of fight for a moment, they both fail to do anything much to each other, and then Nero starts gathering dark power or something. Uh oh.

End of chapter! Nowhere near enough gil to upgrade anything because I still need to buy potions and I'm still using XP to level, so not a very exciting chapter end, but that's okay. The next chapter begins with no prelude, just Vincent walking up to the Shinra Building, and that's where I stopped. For only having played for about an hour, that was a pretty disaster-filled hour. A lot of things went badly in a short amount of time, heh. Hopefully Vincent can save the day...! Still liking Shelke, Nero is creepy, Rosso is dead and good riddance to her, and hey that whole bit had a very sad lack of Reeve. I'm not really sure what he's up to now, actually; last I saw him he was asking Shelke to keep an eye on the ship until we got back. Where'd he go? Cid's the one directing the air fleet and Cloud is leading the ground troops...Reeve must have gone somewhere. Back to headquarters, maybe? I dunno.

Haha, speaking of Reeve, I just today took a closer look at the picture on the back of the box, and I love the picture of Reeve standing there, looking all serious and badass...holding Cait Sith like some kind of teddy bear. XD Anyway, I'm psyched to see more of this, it's full of good action and suspense. Can't wait to see what's going to happen when Vincent gets near Omega or Nero, I have a very bad feeling about this involuntary Chaos transformation stuff. And I want to hear the rest of what the hell was up with Lucrecia's involvement in putting Chaos to sleep inside Vincent in the first place! And I’m still waiting to see what was with Hojo’s “body” vanishing at the end of the prologue! Lots of things yet to see, I'll have to start earlier next time. I hate playing games only an hour at a time.

Chapter 7[]

Whoooaaa. So I just beat the game. That was...a lot of nonsense packed into a few hours. XD But it was epic nonsense...! Here we go. Readers beware, this is longer than usual, I played for a long time, heh.

First I gather some items and just take a moment to orient myself. I'm about to walk into the Shinra Building three years after the events of FFVII. It's been half-destroyed and taken over by Deepground, but it will take more than three years to wipe out all evidence of Shinra's existence--the logo is still everywhere, though scorched and crumbled, and the building still stands tall despite excessive damage. Enter Vincent.

Hee, the lobby is so familiar. Mostly from Crisis Core, but that makes it even better. There's the desk where that woman used to hit on Zack. There are the stairs we used to not be able to go up so we had to use the elevator instead. There's where that lady used to give Zack free Phoenix Down potions. Ah, the memories. Now though it's falling apart and Vincent has to jump over rubble and shoot down Deepground jerks as he goes. Eventually I reach a floor with lots of cubicles and some materia on display (can't I take that materia? why can't you shoot through glass, Vincent), and secret Deepground files lying around. I'm not entirely certain why I'm bothering to collect them now since it's a little late for info-gathering, but hey.

There was one corridor that was so annoying here, with those stupid shield robots that gave me so much trouble before. I'd run out of MP and the hall was even tinier than the one before, so I ducked back into a room and closed the door...and they hung out outside the door and bashed into it repeatedly and they wouldn't go away. And every time I opened the door they bombarded me with attacks. Ugh. Eventually I managed to jump over them, but geez. Also there was no map in this area for a while, but I'm pretty sure I got everything anyway, it wasn't all that complex an area.

Eventually, I end up in this huge central elevator shaft, and Vincent receives a phone call...from Barrett! And Tifa and Cloud! Woo! They're apparently still working on their end of things, trying to shut down the reactors, and they send Vincent a map of the building (yay!) and tell him not to go getting himself killed. I loved this little scene, it was like getting to see what happens every time you use the cell phone to switch party members in FFVII. :P Then the bit with the giant elevator going down was fun, I liked the domino effect of shooting one aerial mine and making it crash into all the other ones. Just had to be careful not to do it while they were directly overhead so that I didn't get caught in the resulting explosion. >_>

And then eventually I reach another giant elevator...on which is Azul. Imminent boss fight alert! But first, Azul pauses to comment that Chaos seems restless, and that Vincent should show him his rage. Then we fight! This was pretty easy, this part. Just like before only without the explosive barrels, but his missiles do less damage now and I have more HP, so I beat him pretty fast.

...but no, it's not over, of course! He transforms into his beast form and charges at me! This part was pretty fun if a little dizzying; I ended up having to run around and around in circles on the elevator to make him crack open the mako containers so that I could Thunder him to death. In retrospect, the stuff he was shooting at me was kind of like lightning; maybe I should have used a different materia. But Thunder was what I had equipped, so oh well.

Of course, at some point I ran out of mako and Ethers and MP...so I started trying to lure him around in one direction and then run up behind him from the other direction and hand-to-hand combo him. Surprisingly this actually worked pretty well! Though when he got to low HP he started doing this tail-lash thing reminiscent of the Crisis Core Behemoth that kept hitting me because unlike Zack, Vincent doesn't have a freaking dodge roll. But I beat him, yay!

...hahahaha oh my god. The cutscene at the end of this fight was the most amazing thing ever. Azul still refuses to go down, and he whacks Vincent hard into the rail. Vincent's wobbly for a minute, but he gets back up again...and then he basically teleports over to Azul and pulls a Rosso by stabbing him with his mechanical hand, and there's this bright light and then Azul is back to being a bipedal creature and Vincent has turned into Chaos. And Azul is all like "yessss rage you're more of a beast than I am" and then Chaos picks up Azul's giant missile launcher and impales Azul with it through the chest what! He just threw a huge gun, which is not pointy or sharp in the least, through a dude! And he looked decidedly gleeful doing it, too, which was just awesome. And THEN, as if that weren't enough, Chaos proceeds to shoot a laser beam or something at Azul which knocks him off the elevator so that he falls (laughing maniacally, of course) to his doom. And then Chaos goes kind of nuts, while Nero watches him and muses that he might as well just let Chaos do his thing, since he's clearly out of control.

But then Nero drops something or other which seems to be related to Shelke, and it catches Chaos' attention and Vincent has a flashback. Oh wow. This is pretty terrible. Back when Vincent was in the test tube in the mansion at Nibelheim, Hojo came down to see what Lucrecia was doing and found it highly amusing that she was using this dying body that he'd deemed a failed experiment to test her thesis. She tried to argue that no, it wasn't an experiment...! But Hojo just laughed at her, and honestly her protests seemed pretty hard to believe to me too. Even if she was doing it to save Vincent's life, it was still pretty questionable. Poor Vincent wakes up on the floor of the elevator, back in human form but having remembered this scene, and is a bit stunned to find out what Lucrecia did. He must have assumed that Hojo was responsible for all of the modifications made to him, despite having learned that Lucrecia was researching Omega and Chaos--and I would have too, if I'd been him.

So now we're plunging into the depths of Shinra's Dark Secret...pretty scary. And Vincent has some Dramatic Lines here, which actually I really liked because this is the first time in DoC he's really done that, but he used to do it in FFVII so it's cool to know he's still the same melodramatic Vincent, heh. Next chapter! So apparently Deepground wasn't just "a facility for wounded SOLDIERS," it was a gigantic freaking underground city. What? Where the hell did this come from? But okay. Wandering around for a while here, picking up items, shooting some folks. Pretty neat scenery despite it not making much sense. At one point there was this really annoying "here is an item behind five hundred barriers, go find a million card keys and Vincent will kind of grunt when there's one nearby as a hint" puzzle that I didn't bother finishing. I got through maybe four or five of them, but it just got to be too tedious and I wanted to continue with the plot, so I left it alone. Hope it wasn't anything earth-shattering.

Oh, but! I did obtain a new frame for my machine gun, the Blast Machine Gun, and damn I love this thing. When I first pick it up, they set me up against a whole slew of those weird dog-like creatures, and I mow through them in five seconds flat and they go flying everywhere because this gun's specialty is knocking opponents down. So. Satisfying. I also managed to pick up a new frame for my rifle, which increases my melee attack power. I don't know how that works, but I'm not arguing with it! I know why they gave it to me here, too, but I'll get there.

After a while I come to this bridge, and suddenly a swirl of darkness appears and tries to eat Vincent! Ooooh Nero is around somewhere. I guess he figured that since Vincent regained control of Chaos, he should eliminate Vincent after all. But Shelke tells Vincent that he can't be controlled by darkness because part of him was born from it...! Wha? Did Nero eat her or something? I guess he did, because after this we see her curled up in a protective bubble that's cracking more by the minute, complaining about Vincent acting like a child and wondering why she's bothering to protect herself when she'll just die when she runs out of mako anyway. Don't die, Shelke! The only way I can make sense of Nero's power is that the darkness is kind of an in-between plane of existence where people get devoured, and Shelke is hanging out in that in-between place, so when Vincent goes there he can hear her. Or something. Sure.

But then she experiences a flashback--"data interference"--to when Lucrecia found the cave from FFVII, apparently the place where Chaos was supposed to awaken, a mako fountain (thus the crystals). And there's a guy here working with Lucrecia...oh, I see. Dr. Valentine. So the word that came after "why would they send his...?" was "son" but she was talking about this guy. A shame I know nothing about him and don't care since they never mentioned him before. >_> But it's interesting, at least.

And now here's another flashback with Dr. Valentine, in Lucrecia's lab at the mansion. Valentine warns her that she's moving too quickly on this Chaos thing, and she should slow down, but she says pish tosh, I have to prove those losers at Shinra wrong! Until the black stuff in the test tube explodes and Valentine pushes her out of the way only to find that the darkness is lingering on his arm. That can't be good. At the time, I had this idea that maybe this was somehow related to Nero's existence since the darkness looked just like his. Turned out to be totally unrelated, of course. Unfortunately, it turned out that the dark Chaos stuff ended up killing Vincent's father, and it was Lucrecia's fault. Oh god. Now she has multiple things to apologize for! Man, talk about a screw-up.

Then we move to a Shelke flashback, as she muses about the impact of death on loved ones--Shelke as a small child is crying about her mother's death, and tiny Shalua is reassuring her that she just returned to the planet and they'd see her again, because Mom said so and why would she lie? Well, unless your mom was Aeris... >_> Whoops. An interesting look at Shelke's mindset though. And then Shelke seems to dream that Shalua is asking whether it's okay for her to return to the planet, and Shelke realizes that no, she doesn't want Shalua to die--and she didn't think she had any tears left to cry, but she does. Woo Shelke development.

Back to Vincent, who doesn't seem to have much of a reaction to his escaping the darkness, and eventually I meet up with Nero himself. Finally, I'll get an explanation, right? Well, uh...kind of. It turns out that Nero is Weiss' brother. What? Really? I took a closer look at Nero after this and I guess his eyes aren't the same as Vincent's...they're still close though, and he really does look like him, but I guess he's not related in any way after all. That's kind of silly, I wish they hadn't made him look so much like Vincent then. Bah. Oh well. Boss fight time!

An easy fight with no second form, so of course afterward he runs away, claiming to be busy. Uh huh. He tries to stick Vincent back into the darkness again, but this time Vincent is paying more attention and remembers that he can't be affected, so instead of succumbing he rescues Shelke and comes back out again. Nero's kind of surprised, but remembers--ah, soul wrought of terra corrupt indeed. He seems to be about to do something, but then uh...out of nowhere, Yuffie shows up yelling about how in every darkness there's light and here's the awesome ninja Yuffie and she's gonna take you down! Nero's like "...uhhh...right, I'm gonna go now." *teleport* When did Yuffie turn into Sora? Pretty hilarious. And then Vincent and Shelke totally ignore her and she jumps up and down like the attention whore she is and falls off the building. Serves her right! :P

We head inside a building, the heart of reactor zero presumably, and Shelke goes into a mako tube in order to recharge. Yuffie heads off to shut down the reactor's power while Vincent is about to go deal with Weiss--but Shelke stops him and there's another flashback. I can't decide whether this was Shelke sharing the data with him or just a flashback one or the other of them had in between her saying his name and their subsequent conversation, but either way.

...apparently Vincent's father's name was Grimoire Valentine. Hahaha. Why is that his name, that is a terrible name. XD But anyway. Apparently at some point, Vincent came into Lucrecia's lab and saw on her computer a file that described how she worked with good ol' Dr. Grimoire, and he gets upset. Why didn't you tell me you worked with my father? Well, see, Vincent, it's like this. I kind of accidentally killed your father with my scientific enthusiasm. Overcome with guilt after admitting this, she runs off, and although he didn't blame her...she didn't stop to learn that. Instead, she felt so guilty that she stopped allowing herself to care about Vincent and hooked up with Hojo. So all this wasn't really Vincent's fault, it was hers all along! Honestly, I'm beginning to like her less and less as time goes on just because she's such an utter failure. Everything that's gone wrong in Vincent's life is because of her. And he never even held it against her, but she even failed at making amends. Wow.

Back in the present, Shelke asks why Vincent is fighting this battle, and he says he tells himself it's to end the threat of Omega and save the world, but he's not sure what the reason really is. "To find out the truth" and "to get revenge somehow" are I imagine more honest answers. But now it's time for the next chapter, and it's called "Beginnings" which is pretty ominous. And hey, there's the giant mako vat where the huge hand ate the people from Kalm. And okay, here is where I learned why the game made my melee combo better. And gave me a bunch of Ethers. It's because now there are guys with freaking bullet shields. Oh what the hell.

So this was a fun time, let me tell you, trying to either get to them to punch them to death without dying, or using up all my MP in like four hits of Thunder, which would kill all of two guys. Augh. This was especially bad in a room where I didn't realize the guys would infinitely spawn, so I ended up wasting a lot of time and using a lot of items for a stupid neverending fight I didn't need to have. It was made worse by the fact that this room was full of random mako fountains, which created this annoying green mist that it was hard to see through, so I couldn't even see the guys half the time. It was pretty awful.

But anyway, eventually I get down to the bottom level, where there's a random boss fight with a bunch of gargoyles and one of those Dragonfly helicopters again, this time with limited dodging space and gargoyles I can't see due to the camera who swoop down on me and knock me over so that the missiles can combo me! Groovy. Kind of a stupid fight, and I don't know why the helicopter was here to begin with, but hey. It wasn't so bad once I got into the habit of pointing my rifle way up into the air to look for gargoyles every time the helictopter disappeared behind the platform, and turning the volume up so I could hear when it was coming back and from what direction.

After this I run into Yuffie. And now it's time to confront...Weiss...who appears to be dead. Whaa? But here's Nero to explain things. Kind of. Apparently, as Vincent realizes halfway through the conversation, the idea is to awaken Omega inside Weiss, the same way Chaos awakens inside Vincent. I see. Nero refers to this as "rebirth," which IS the same thing that happened to Vincent, so that's interesting. And then Yuffie asks who taught him this technique of rebirth, and it took me a few seconds for it to click, but then I was like ohhh, he's talking about Hojo. Gotcha.

But then Weiss starts to wake up, and we aim weapons at it...but Nero isn't having that crap, and he engulfs us in darkness again. Yuffie starts flipping out, and then uh...okay, the visuals on this were really freakish. These dark sperm started attacking her. I can't even begin to call them anything else, the imagery was way too obvious. But then there's this light out of nowhere and then Vincent like...floats in and grabs her from behind, I dunno, it was weird. So he brings her out of the darkness, and Nero's like "riiiight, you can't be affected--but nobody attacks my brother, so take this!" And somehow transports Vincent to some trippy darkness place with weird colors and floating rocks. Boss fight time!

This is the first piece of music since the opening movie that's really stood out to me, I liked Nero's boss theme a lot. Running around in circles, shooting little shield-generating thingies and then shooting Spider-Nero (for some reason, who knows), and then the second half of this fight involved me standing on a little floating rock and having to be patient and wait for him to reappear so I could shoot him once with Cerberus and then watch him vanish and look for him to reappear again. This wouldn't have been so tense if I hadn't been nearly out of ammo...! I was terrified of running out though, because I had little else to hit him with (the machine gun wouldn't have reached him and the rifle didn't do that much damage, and I didn't have that many bullets left for the rifle either, and I had no MP and no more Ethers thanks to that stupid room earlier) but I conserved and was patient and beat him in the end with something like 10 bullets left. Whew!

So we come back to the real world and Nero stumbles off to join Weiss. Vincent follows him only to find that Weiss is now up and about. Crap! Nero goes to him, his wonderful powerful beautiful brother (Nero creeps me the heck out)...who proceeds to impale him with his bare hand and then chuck him across the room, saying that he doesn't need Nero anymore. Whoops. It'd be sad if Nero weren't the creepiest dude alive. (Well, no, second creepiest. Hojo wins that contest.) Then he deflects Vincent's bullets, claiming to be invincible, and then he...says "Well, Vincent Valentine, we meet again."

Whoa whoa. Again? Vincent too is confused, and Weiss continues by talking about how three years ago when he was looking for Sephiro--oh my god. Oh my god. It's Hojo. It's freaking Hojo. How the hell...? Well, he explains. Basically, he transferred his consciousness to data and then spread himself out over the internet. Not even kidding. What the hell, hahaha. Well, I guess if Lucrecia's consciousness is somehow preserved inside Shelke, this isn't that much weirder. I guess. But man, I laughed so much at this. What in the world. Vincent doesn't figure it out, though, until Hojo refers to his rebirth as a "neo-Reunion." And then Vincent gets pissed. It's pretty cool, actually, how well they managed to convey that with a simple "YOU."

Hojo babbles on like any good megalomaniacal villain would. He says that he thought Lucrecia's thesis was total crap until Vincent transformed into Chaos during their fight against him in FFVII, at which point he realized hey, if Chaos can be awakened inside a person, why not Omega, who's even more powerful? But he needed a body that could withstand and contain Omega, so he hit up Deepground. Very clever. And now it makes sense that the plan to trick the planet into awakening Omega by purifying it (aka murdering a lot of people) was also clever--it was Hojo's plan. He may be creepy and evil and horrible, but he is also a smart cookie. I love how he had to get in the dig that Vincent only survived Lucrecia's Chaos experiments because Hojo had modified him first. What a dick. XD

Incidentally, while he was talking, the camera was shifting around, and I noticed Weiss' weapons. He has...he has gunblades. Two of them. Gunblade katanas. Hahaha, awesome. First Genesis copies, now this. Apparently after FFVIII they fell in love with the gunblade concept and decided to use it everywhere. :P So Vincent tries again to attack and Hojo figures, well, I wanted to test this body out anyway, why not? And then Vincent gets utterly pwned. I have to assume that this fight isn't actually winnable, heh. I lost pretty darn fast.

Hojo/Weiss is about to finish Vincent off when Shelke/Lucrecia somehow uh...transmits a message to him or something, and tells him that he has to take control of Chaos, and he can't just overpower Weiss/Hojo/Omega/whatever. (Man, I'm getting Xenogears vibes.) So Vincent gets creative, and somehow uses the power of the Protomateria which is currently inside Weiss to harness the power of Chaos while staying human. That's actually kind of neat! And apparently, doing so allows him to react in bullet time, sweet. Now the real boss fight begins!

It's a shame all that fancy bullet time dodging isn't actually possible. I did so poorly during this fight, it was terrible. He moved way too fast for the camera to keep up. This game really needed Kingdom Hearts' way of keeping the camera trained on an enemy when you lock onto it. He also moved too fast for my dash to be of any use. And the machine gun did too little damage for me to effectively use it.

So basically I just...kept my distance and tried to keep up with him using the Cerberus. I got him down to about half his HP and realized that I was quickly running out of items and this wasn't going to work for much longer, so I used my Limit Break...and for a little while I was terrified that it hadn't worked despite the item being used up, but then it became clear that it was just that while he's all Chaos, he doesn't transform into the Galian Beast, but he still gets the increased stats and stuff. Whew. So I hand-to-handed him the rest of the way to death, woo!

After the fight, it turns out that Nero didn't really die, he just almost died, or something, and he hid himself in darkness which then hid inside Weiss/Hojo/Omega. ...? That was about as much sense as I could make of it. But apparently he drove Omega out of the body because the body had to be pure and it wasn't anymore, and while Hojo flipped out in his impotent way, Nero managed to restore control of his brother's body to Weiss. They...merged, or something, and then walked over to the vat of mako. "Noooooooooo!" says Hojo, but alas, he is dissipated, and dies. A little anticlimactic honestly, for the death of the guy who really was the cause of most of the world's problems (well, he and Lucrecia). But Vincent was probably satisfied, at least. Finally, revenge!

But there are still bigger issues. Like the fact that the mako in the reactor just exploded and engulfed Vincent, and now uh...well, here is where everything sort of went from "kind of nonsensical" to "completely nonsensical," heh. Apparently, Cloud and those other guys failed to shut the power off to the reactors, because all eight of them fire up--just like with the Sister Ray!--and together with the mako in reactor zero, they coalesce into a ginormous Weapon--Omega. Whoops! Guess without Hojo and Weiss to contain it, it's just gonna do its thing all Weapon-style.

So then, in response to Omega's awakening, Vincent transforms fully into Chaos and explodes out of Omega's head, but it reforms and Omega is fine. And then Chaos tries to attack him but there's a forcefield, oh no! So then Shelke connects herself to...the...souls that are in the lifestream that fills Omega, because that's the same as a computer network, obviously. >_> And then she, like...somehow PHYSICALLY, in data form?, flies into Omega, and almost gets snatched by some kinda dark tendril things. But then Lucrecia, in data form?, hands her the Protomateria and then she escapes from Omega and flies up and gives it to Vincent, only to appear as Lucrecia again. What in the world.

So that made no sense, but okay, Vincent has the Protomateria again and now he can fully control Chaos, even in Chaos form! Woo! It's funny, ever since the first few times he accidentally transformed I was thinking maybe the game would let me control him as Chaos. This only strengthened that suspicion.

And then there's an extended series of flashbacks as Shelke transmits to Chaos everything Lucrecia wanted to say to Vincent but never did. First it replays the scene where Hojo accuses her of running experiments on Vincent, only this time it seems like Hojo actually gave her the idea to use Chaos to save Vincent's life--I think, anyway, it was kind of unclear. Then we see the rest of the earlier flashback after Hojo shoots Vincent, where Lucrecia comes in (having pregnant-with-Sephiroth troubles) and sees what Hojo has done and is horrified. And there are a bunch of echoey voice-overs by Lucrecia during all this, in which she confesses various things to Vincent. Like the fact that he had his father's eyes, and that she loved... --she cuts that one off and it's difficult to tell whether she would have said she'd loved HIM, or his father. If she meant his father, that's kind of creepy, to tell the truth--and some of the other stuff kind of supports this.

But later stuff kind of supports her having loved Vincent, so my guess is that she cared a lot for Dr. Valentine, started becoming close to Vincent because of that, but ended up loving Vincent for himself in the end. She admits that she didn't really want to push Vincent away, but he reminded her too much of her crime. Oh, but she wasn't finished committing those. It turns out that she had been trying to bring together lifestream to heal Vincent (using research on Omega) when she accidentally awakened Chaos inside him. But she and Dr. Valentine had discovered the Protomateria, so she used it to control Chaos.

The next scene, though, is the one that really got me. Lucrecia is frantic when Hojo takes her newborn son away from her, and flies into hysterics. When Hojo, unmoved, asks her how her experiment is going, her response is "I don't know! I don't care!" And she runs off. Back to her lab, where she realizes that she just can't take it anymore...so she stores her consciousness, her thoughts, her wishes, everything she wanted to tell Vincent, as data and goes off to basically commit suicide...leaving Vincent there for Hojo to do with as he pleased. Augh! Lucrecia! You singlehandedly ruined Vincent's life! I find it interesting that Lucrecia is the one who has committed these terrible sins and is trying to redeem herself, given that this has always been Vincent's deal.

So then things start bleeding into flashbacks of Shelke's life, but she stops transmitting then and tells Vincent to connect with Lucrecia's heart using her data. So Vincent's consciousness inside Chaos has a conversation with Lucrecia's consciousness from Shelke's data--an approximation, but good enough. Most of this is one-sided, with Vincent sitting silent and ostensibly not even listening while Lucrecia talks. Mostly she confesses her feelings and apologizes for all the mistakes she made, and tells him that she's happy he survived. Then she vanishes, and he calls her name--and we're back in the present.

Chaos goes down into the ruins of the building and rescues Shelke, and says something about how Lucrecia always only believed what she wanted to believe. Shelke tells him that he should tell her that himself, and he says he will--but first. And he reaches out and from nowhere pulls this gigantic awesome looking gun, and flies up to battle Omega. Chapter end!

Here we go, last chapter. Well, technically there are two left but it's all just the final boss sequence. OH MAN I get to control Chaos just like I thought! YESSSSSS this is totally sweet. I only have one jump now but it's nice and high with a slow, floaty fall. My dash has become this really cool *WHOOSH* thing and instead of running I just float all Magus-style. And the gun--the Death Penalty, of course!--is basically a laser. It deals 2000 damage at a time and can cut through one enemy to also kill the next one. Bahahahaha! So great.

I make my way up the wreckage of reactor zero to face Omega. And as I get to his head, wondering how I'm going to get through his protective shield...FMV time! As Cloud basically chops a mako reactor in half with his sword. Awww yeah. Apparently it's taken them this long to get around to destroying/powering down the reactors! But they do it with style. Tifa apparently kicked hers to death or something--more likely I guess she beat up the Deepground guys and turned it off--Barrett's shooting things, Cid apparently crashed his ship into his reactor to destroy it, and Reeve orders a bunch of WRO guys to fire on his reactor until it blows up. Woooo! Barrier down!

And then everyone looks up to where Chaos-Vincent is flying all dramatic against the moon and they all yell "Vincent!" And Vincent has this awesome line, so characteristic: "Guess I have no choice. It's time...to save the world." XD Oh Vincent. You remain hilarious. So they're all like "YEAH!" and Vincent charges down at full speed through the air to penetrate Omega.

The song that played here was pretty epic, I liked it a lot. It has to be the one that was called "Redemption" in the credits, which is pretty damn appropriate, heh. A really good backdrop to a fairly epic chunk of gameplay in which I climb to the top of the inside of Omega, shooting through these weird flower-looking laser-shooting guys, until I reach the top and fly up into a green light.

Whereupon I seem to be in this bizarre world made of lifestream or something, and under the water (that I'm walking on) there's this huge brain looking thing with tendrils, and Weiss is inside. The first form of the boss fight is these Crystal Tendrils, and it takes me a little bit to realize that I can only hurt them when they're open and only hand-to-hand works. Easy fight, though, especially due to the laser guys dropping ammo and Hi-Potions all over the place. (I adore Chaos' hand-to-hand combo and finisher, by the way.) Second form! The giant brain thing comes up out of the water and sends more laser guys at me while hovering in the air, so I shoot it a bunch and it dies. Okay, cool.

Third form! More epic music! Weiss comes out of the brain thing (cocoon, whatever) and he and Vincent have this cutscene duel that is just ridiculous, lots of moving so fast it looks like teleporting and whatnot. Then a big robot thing comes out of the brain cocoon and grabs Weiss, who looks totally PSYCHED about this, and they merge and I fight the robot thing. Omega Weiss, woo! This fight would have been fun if the camera hadn't made it completely impossible to see anything that was going on, since I had to aim upward to hit the boss but everything was attacking me from the ground. Bah. But eventually I killed it. Ending cutscene time!

Omega starts to turn to dust, but its wings break out and are made of pure lifestream, and then it...starts flying away. Waaaggh! Reeve's like "It's ascending?? Crap!!" But then they all watch in awe as Chaos-Vincent bursts out of Omega and shoots off into space, and then comes barrelling back down, crashing into Omega at full speed and causing a giant explosion. ...and then the lifestream, millions of tiny green particles, fall softly back to earth, along with some purple ones. ...what. What. What! And Yuffie's like "...Vincent?" and the camera shows his Cerberus necklace thing hanging from some wreckage and then the credits roll. CREDITS. What.

So the game had me entirely convinced that in the end Vincent gave his life to save the planet. And actually, as much as it made me sad? I really liked that ending. Honestly, his whole life had been wrapped up in revenge and regret and redemption for so long that without it I'm not sure his life could really be complete. Could he ever learn to be happy? I'm doubtful. At peace, sure, but happy? So the credits roll, and all the while I'm sitting there going "Wow, I can't believe they actually did that, wow" and realizing that I hated Lucrecia SO MUCH for screwing up Vincent's whole entire life so thoroughly.

...but then after the credits there's another scene. In which Shelke sends a text message to Vincent's phone, about how she's not alone now and she's stronger for it, and how she's never going to give up hope. And we hear that Cloud is out looking for something--presumably for Vincent--but they haven't heard from him yet. Whoa random Red XIII cameo! Poor Red. The only one who had nothing whatsoever to do in the whole game. And then...and then there's Vincent, hanging out in Lucrecia's cave, and she's still there, in the crystals. Why then was she gone when you go back there the second time in FFVII...? But whatever. I'm just wondering what the hell he's doing here. How did he survive that?? He even says that Chaos returned to the planet. So somehow Chaos separated from Vincent and died, and Vincent survived? What? How? Huh? O...kay. And Shelke, dressed in normal clothes, comes to meet him, and does the Lucrecia thing, "I don't know why they sent me to find you. Not that I mind, though."

So the end was a little lamer than I'd expected. Oh well. I guess they couldn't really kill Vincent off. Then I'd only found one of the three G reports so I watched the secret ending online and it was incredibly stupid. Weiss' body was deep underground somewhere, and apparently uh...somehow...Genesis...appeared there. Huh? And he's all "our work isn't finished...my brother." And then he takes Weiss' body and flies away with his one wing. ...the hell? There is NO explanation for this. I guess somehow Genesis survived all of that stuff in Deepground and was like...called to Weiss' body? But isn't Weiss dead? I guess not...! Augh so dumb.

The end! I checked the special features afterward and apparently all those little orange things I shot got me the ability to watch cutscenes and one secret mission, nothing else. Maybe if I complete the missions more stuff will open up, who knows. Oh, and I guess it was implied that Weiss and Nero were the SOLDIERS who went to fetch Genesis at the end of Crisis Core; I say this a) because Genesis called him "brother" and b) because I remember now the voices of the two and the weird airy, vaguely British one stood out to me, and looking back I think it was Nero's voice. It would explain maybe why Weiss and Nero were the most powerful, if they were closest to Genesis and got more of his cells or something.

So! Overall I liked the game, even if bits of it didn't make sense and some of the characters were stupid and it needed a camera lock-on and a dodge roll. One nice thing was that there was no Aeris anywhere. I don't dislike Aeris (except in Crisis Core) but after Advent Children I was getting sick and tired of her being the answer to everything, with her "I AM the lifestream!"ness. It was gratifying that she wasn't involved here in any way. I half-expected to find that in the end she was going to be the one to stop Omega or something, so I was very glad they let that be entirely Vincent's victory. Fun game, fleshed out Vincent backstory and personality, yay!

Final character ranking, DoC only (not counting cameos or Weiss, who really has no character):

Vincent > Reeve > Hojo > Shelke > Yuffie > Lucrecia > Nero > Rosso > Azul > Shalua

Addendum[]

I was sad that Reeve just kind of vanished for the last bunch of chapters. Ah well. It was all action, I guess he couldn't really be involved, especially since Nero destroyed his last Cait Sith. D:

Lucrecia would be lower if those other guys weren't so dumb. She's a terrible person. I mean...I know Vincent forgave her, and I know the whole thing was about her redemption, and she did end up redeeming herself by giving them the data they needed on Omega (kind of) and apologizing to Vincent and all that. But I'm having trouble forgiving her. Even now, after all this, her desire for redemption seemed to stem less from saving the world or fixing anything and more from her guilt. She was more concerned about what Vincent thought of her than about, oh, say, what her experiments with Hojo did to the world, or what the remnants of Shinra did with her thesis research. And I mean, I do feel sorry for her in some respects, Hojo played her like a fiddle and was a dick to her, but I dunno. She had a lot more to answer for than Vincent did and she punished herself far less. Instead of trying to undo what she'd done or fix anything, she just ran away, leaving her mess for others to clean up and leaving Vincent to pay for all of her mistakes. At least Hojo was unabashedly and straightforwardly evil, she didn't even have that going for her. She wasn't a villain, she wasn't a hero, she wasn't even an anti-hero. She was just a failure who barely managed to make up for her weakness and foolishness in the end, and that only because other people made it possible (Vincent, Shelke).

...anyway. Lucrecia rant aside, I enjoyed the game. Woo! I'll post my final, final FFVII compilation character ranking later. I don't anticipate too many changes, except that Vincent will probably go up and I'll have some fodder for the bottom of the list.

Addendum 2[]

Man...this Genesis stuff is getting way out of hand. XD But thanks for the info. You know, I hate that they keep making important bits of the story incomprehensible without extensive research. Why wouldn't they just make it clear what had happened with Genesis in the games? Bah.

Nero was better than the other Tsviets in that he was creepy instead of totally goofy, but I didn't get any of that backstory or anything so he was just creepy and not much else. That does sound like a freaky story though. Is that in this multiplayer stuff? What is all this multiplayer story stuff, anyway, where did it come from? Time for bed now, but I'll check it out later.

And yeah, I liked that moment too. Vincent rarely gets to show much strong emotion, so when he does--even subtlely--it's good stuff. I adore his VA, it's Steven Blum, who played Spike in Cowboy Bebop and Mugen in Samurai Champloo, among other things. One of my favorite voice actors. And yeah, it was good to have more closure with Hojo; that was one of the things that bugged me in FFVII, that even if you bring Vincent to that fight you don't get much resolution.

Post-Game[]

Glad you guys enjoyed the playthrough! I haven't quite decided yet what I'm going to play, though it looks like it will probably be Phoenix Wright. Probably a good idea to play something completely different from all this stuff anyway, heh--take a little break from RPGs and make sure I don't end up comparing the next game I play to FFVII.

So I just watched Last Order. That was neat! I loved the part where Zack stuck the Buster Sword in the ground near Cloud and then took on a whole battalion of infantry hand-to-hand, and made them shoot each other, heh. The part with Sephiroth leaping into the reactor was dumb, but Cloud still managed to seem badass--especially since Sephiroth was dangling him over the reactor and he slid himself along the sword before getting the floor back under his feet and flinging Sephiroth across the room. Good times.

...aaaand watching that made me want to rewatch the ending to Crisis Core again. Gah, it never gets less awesome.

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