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Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack :: Forum Review

Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack Album Title: Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
Record Label: DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (Reprint)
Catalog No.: SSCX-10004; SQEX-10001/4
Release Date: February 10, 1997; May 10, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Written by Totz

Final Fantasy VII itself is a true masterpiece of a game — its excellent plot caught the attention of most gamers by being both complex and well thought out whilst its characters were, mostly, well designed and well developed. Its graphics, although featuring blocky characters, were great for the time it was released, and its FMVs were stunning. Its pieces, however, are sadly quite a mixed bag.

Nobuo Uematsu has certainly triumphed with many tracks in the soundtrack — tracks such as "Main Theme," "Cid's Theme" and "One Winged Angel" all immediately come to mind. These really show the true power of Uematsu — he creates unforgettable, well-developed themes that really suit the context they are played in. However, the majority of the soundtrack fails to fulfil these high expectations. Although there are few 'bad' tracks as such, many of the tracks seem rather mediocre, and a lot feel underdeveloped, and thus are very repetitive, which is one of the main problems with this soundtrack. These tracks didn't leave a particularly positive impression on me and seemed rather dull and emotionless.

The other, very significant problem that hinders this soundtrack is the problem of bad sound quality. It seems even worse than earlier additions to the series, namely Final Fantasy VI, which still succeeded and triumphed against the hindrance of poor 16 bit sound! I would have expected much better from Final Fantasy VII considering it is on the PlayStation, which obviously possesses superior qualities compared to the SNES. The game totally fails to stretch the capabilities of the system, and this makes sound quality a major issue. Often tracks sound rather harsh and unrefined, which really spoils some of the more sensitive themes in the game. Not only does it reduce overall clarity, but also power in certain themes. This is a real shame considering that, with a more refined sound, it would be able to rival later installments of the series more aptly.

As you will probably notice, this Original Soundtrack is much darker than its predecessor's. The rather light-hearted, joking style is gone in favour of a much more serious, miserable one! This, however, is an effective reflection of the game's world. Tracks like "The ShinRa Corporation" and "Those Chosen By The Planet" are perfect examples — they are really intimidating, and instil a certain fear in the player; you know that when you hear them, something bad is about to happen! Other themes, such as hope, despair, evil, mystery, and nature are all finely portrayed in the album, and this is one of the main merits of Uematsu's score. Many of the tracks show the album has the potential to evoke any feeling possible, which really benefits the game in certain situations.

Like in the Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version, every character (apart from Cloud) has their own specific theme, which is used to reflect their personality. Also, a large portion of the soundtrack is dedicated to recapitulation of old, familiar themes from earlier Final Fantasy scores — the classic Final Fantasy "Prelude" is back, while the Chocobo themes take quite a leading role within the soundtrack — we hear it this time in four different forms, which seems rather excessive. Of course, the famous fanfare theme is also here and in three different forms as well. Some of these incarnations seem rather unoriginal, and could have been left out of the soundtrack without any real loss, although some are much more inspired.

However, Final Fantasy VII's soundtrack also shows Uematsu exploring less familiar styles by heading to the future more. Although the recapitulation of old themes is a bit heavy, we see much more original styles also coming through. Industrial, tribal, gothic, minimalist, and electronic styles are all explored, each with variable amounts of success. This helps to introduce a new audience to the series, and makes quite a contrast to earlier albums. These original styles help to represent a new age for the Final Fantasy series on the PlayStation.

Now, without further ado, here's the track-by-track review!

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Prelude (Written by Aevloss)

The Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack begins with the trademark "Prelude" track, which has not really changed since its previous rendition in Final Fantasy VI. Arguably, the main problem with this soundtrack in particular, is that it suffers from unimpressive sound quality, and from the very beginning this problem makes itself apparent — despite the leap to the PlayStation, the instrumentation somehow sounds slightly worse than earlier instalments.

While it is a classic theme which is always associated with the series, I can't help but feel that it would have been nice to see a little more innovation here (like the Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack's "Prelude" for example). On a slightly less related note, I think that it would have been more sensible to put this track at the end of Disc Three, because "Opening ~ Bombing Mission" would have had much more of an impact as the first track on the CD. (7/10)

2) Opening ~ Bombing Mission (Written by Conqueso)

I can only imagine how a long-time follower of the series must have felt to pop their shiny new game into their shiny new console and hear this music. Final Fantasy VII's introduction is one of the most genuinely cinematic opening sequences that I've ever seen in a video game, and the music absolutely reflects that, by beginning with a good old-fashioned technique: a high, sustained E-natural in the violins. The bells play with a plaintive, slightly dissonant motif that'll come back a few times in the score for the first 30 seconds or so, progressively building up to an impressive fanfare as the title screen flashes. Then the real fun begins: as we get into the actual gameplay (the titular bombing mission), an aggressive piano vamp fades in, accompanied by occasional bursts from the synth orchestra and snippets of melody. (10/10)

3) Makou Reactor (Written by Aevloss)

After the cinematic opening piece that was "Opening ~ Bombing Mission," Uematsu gives a more atmospheric piece in the form of the "Makou Reactor" theme. Whilst retaining some of the tension, the somewhat slower melody relieves the sense of urgency created by the previous track. Despite this, the frequent use of bells and a synth choir sound help to show just how big and dark the city of Midgar is and is, overall, a much more location-specific version of the Shinra theme found in later tracks.

However, while the sound effects in the background and the general mood created are very much aimed to be listened to with the scenes in the game, "Makou Reactor" is surprisingly listenable outside of it — unlike some of the later tracks on this particular CD, Uematsu has surprisingly managed to make it develop enough to warrant listens by itself, rather than merely blending into the background as some of the other Midgar pieces do. (9/10)

4) Anxious Heart (Written by Josh Barron)

After the aggressive, yet timely "Makou Reactor," "Anxious Heart" seems to give the listener a sense of relief. But at the same time, the track portrays loss and sacrifice. Even though the sampling isn't the best, this track does not disappoint. The dynamics are used appropriately and they further add to depressed feel. Following a string section, the main theme is then carried out by a harp at first, and soon after is the flute. The melody is the best part of course. Then some vibes make a solo appearance, which leads into the ending phrase. This phrase is definitely mysterious in its own right. Overall, this track is definitely depressing. It just perfectly demonstrates just how alone Cloud felt in the game. However, the string samples weren't the greatest and that, for me, limited my experience. (9/10)

5) Tifa's Theme (Written by Tim)

Tifa's just one of those characters that you just have to love. She's so easy-going and kind. When I hear her theme, these are the traits that come to mind — her unfortunate past, the anticipation of coming back into contact with Cloud, her determination to complete the mission, and her rare ability to reason with Barret. As for the piece itself, it's a very simple melody, but the emotion streams from it. This is one of the top five character themes in the series, and also makes a delightful piano solo. (10/10)

6) Barret's Theme (Written by Conqueso)

And now we have a track, by guest composer Grant Kirkhope?! No? Okay, this may be an Uematsu track, but you could easily plop this track into "Banjo-Kazooie" and nobody would notice, which isn't so much bad as being inappropriate for this game. I suppose it fits Barret's reckless personality, but in such an otherwise dark soundtrack, this is downright goofy, and there's no real justification for it, unlike later goofy tracks like "Don of the Slums" or "Fiddle de Chocobo." The track gets better around 1:07, where the snare drum enters and the music takes on a nobler air, but it's short and the transition back to the beginning is just dissonant and unsatisfying. It's not terrible by a long shot, but strange and underwhelming. (7/10)

7) Hurry! (Written by Aevloss)

This is one of those tracks that is used effectively within the game, yet fails to impress outside of it. In every Final Fantasy soundtrack, there is at least one track which accompanies a running sequence, and unfortunately, these particular pieces have never been one of Uematsu's specialities. The tune is very much centred around one note which is played over and over again in an attempt to reflect the danger that approaches. Unfortunately, this usually means that they are very repetitive to listen to on the soundtrack. At certain points in the track we hear sound effects similar to those used in the "Makou Reactor" track, which shows in what kind of places this piece is used in the game. None of the instruments particularly stand out, and the track hardly develops enough to become anything other than mediocre. (6/10)

8) Lurking in the Darkness (Written by R-Nasty)

"Lurking in the Darkness" is the first of many to come "mood" tracks that appear throughout the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. The basis of the track is very simple, featuring a tom-tom cymbal, clarinet, and a synthesizer. The track fits very well in the game, but listening to it alone can lead the common listener to skip the track. Overall, though a decent track, and a great "mood" setting track, it is not at all a standout track on this soundtrack. (7/10)

9) Shinra Company (Written by Aevloss)

The Final Fantasy VII world is a very bleak place — the evil Shinra corporation are destroying the planet with their Makou Reactors, and are the most powerful human force on the planet, meaning that if it weren't for the events that take place in the game itself, the world would slump further into the darkness until all life died out. As such, Uematsu had to create a very powerful theme to convey just how dangerous Shinra are. The main marvel with this piece is its simplicity. The whole track is built mainly around one note and builds up layers of instruments as it develops, resulting in a somewhat epic piece which has an overriding sense of power about it — From the powerful drum rolls to the synth choir, this track demonstrates just how effective Uematsu's simple compositions can be, and flawlessly creates a sense of grandeur and arrogant magnificence. Truly one of the best pieces on the first CD. (10/10)

10) Fighting (Written by Nick)

After Final Fantasy VI's awesome rock battle, this is quite a change. We can see Nobuo liked the orchestral sound because he kept it for Final Fantasy VIII. This starts with strings pounding F keys into your face, drums that sound like a noisy factory in the middle of the night, and horns that sound cheesy but have the most amazing harmonies to listen to. But the music is the important part. That's what made this battle so wonderful. It has the most important aspects of a battle:

1) Strong Beat - Oh yes. The mix of on and offs of this beat is what gives it a strong character, and makes it perfect for a battle.

2) Strong Orchestration - Yes, yes. You hear it straight from the beginning. Trombones and horns blasting on the beat, high strings pulsing the eights, timpani rolling, and trumpets with the melody. Wow!

3) Tight Harmonies - Oh. This creates such urgency, such unrest that really screams "FIGHT ME!" in so many ways.

4) Likeable Percussion - The percussion cannot always be in your face and annoying. There are moments where it needs to shine, however. This battle answers that perfectly. You have a tambourine in the beginning, with a cymbal crash and plenty of snare drum, then switch the tambourine. Every time there's a new section in the track, no matter how little, the percussion changes up to fit the situation. It's a joy to listen to.

When I played the game (my TV was on top of my piano), I started playing along whenever I had the chance. Because, of course, I found the battles to be extremely boring and the game very flawed, but that's just me, because it definitely seemed to work for the rest of the world. Back to the track at hand. I can see no obvious flaws, except that it was kept a bit too repetitive. (9/10)

11) Fanfare (Written by Totz)

The classic Fanfare theme is here yet again! However, after the classic fanfare plays, it unfortunately gets really dull. Although the upbeat melody is exciting at first, It doesn't develop, and it keeps on repeating the same old melody! What can you expect from a fanfare theme, which is a typically dull addition to the Final Fantasy series' soundtracks, though? (6/10)

12) Flowers Blooming in the Church (Written by R-Nasty)

Ahh, the time in the game where Cloud meets the lovable flower girl Aeris for the second time, but it is the first time where Cloud actually gets to know her a little. The track in general sets the mood extremely well for a church, and a chance meeting between Cloud and Aeris. Like many tracks on this disc it is simplistic but is arranged, and is perfect for this scene. Every time you hear this track, you picture Cloud and Aeris in the church. Overall a standout track on the first disc due to its imagery and lovable sound. (9/10)

13) Turks' Theme (Written by Conqueso)

Percussion. Oh, and a three-note bass riff. And more percussion! Too bad I'm not a big fan of percussion. I don't think anything so musically bankrupt can be called a 'theme', anyway. It gets kind of nifty and complicated in its rhythms after a while, so those of you who dig complicated percussion might enjoy this track, but it doesn't really convey much of anything besides vague badassness (although "vague" and "badass" sum up the Turks pretty well). (5/10)

14) Underneath the Rotting Pizza (Written by R-Nasty)

Ahh, the theme that brings back good old memories of Cloud running through the ruins and slums of Midgar. The track overall is pretty repetitive and boring at times. It's a simple track, and seems to be placed as more of a filler track than anything. The track works great in the game, but just listening to it for more than a minute or so can lead to severe boredom. The constant repetition of the track is blatantly obvious after this point. Overall though, it isn't at bad track at all; it would been better if a little more was added to the track so that it would not sound so repetitive, however. (6/10)

15) Oppressed People (Written by Sssilverx2)

A swing-like melody for the town of Wall Market in the Midgar slums that is repetitive, extremely simple, and quite boring. The majority of the track stays in Bb minor with an exception of building up to the "climax" of the track, raising from Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, then it repeats the beginning back to Bb. Overall, it's alright, but not a track to really dance to or repeat listening to on the soundtrack. (6/10)

16) Honeybee Manor (Written by Djinova)

A lot of people shook their head in disbelief when this track appeared in the Reunion Album. But I thought such a wacky and fanciful track couldn't be missing in any game soundtrack. It's so silly, I'd say it fits perfectly the banal game that is "Mog Feeding." How can anyone not like the steady, reassuring beats and the pseudo, forced-military style? Unexpectedly, it also has a reflective part clutched onto the end. I bow before you Sir Nobuo; this track always manage to tickle a chuckle out of me. (8/10)

17) Who Are You? (Written by Totz)

This composition is played throughout the soundtrack to address the strange happenings to Cloud, who has a long, not to mention complex (well, it's quite simple really, but the game makes it so complex!) history behind his. This is a very simple, rather empty piece based on unusual, generally diminished chord sequences. This is far from a bad thing, though — this really allows a mysterious track to be created! This unusual chord sequence is very striking, and from the point that it is played onwards you start to think that there is something wrong with Cloud. We learn the conclusion to this saga when "Who Am I?" is played. "Who Are You" just introduces the mystery rather than solves it! (8/10)

18) Don of the Slums (Written by Conqueso)

By far the best Midgar-specific theme in the game. The lecherous Don Corneo's chateau has the weirdest Musak ever, two parts baroque promenade and one part burlesque stripper music. Like Don Corneo himself, this track is completely ridiculous, yet simultaneously oozes dark, disturbing undertones, which makes this one of the most memorable tracks on the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack's first disc. (9/10)

19) Infiltrating Shinra Building (Written by Djinova)

Many would like to see this as a boring, rather minimalist, and undeveloped track, but I disagree. In the game, it never fails to let slip the impression that our party is walking on unknown ground and therefore has to be extremely cautious of any action. While the silent, unnerving, barely noticeable beats suggests this idea, the rising melody unmistakably points our party upwards, where the head of Shinra is located. Whenever I give this track a listen, it always brings me back to the floors of Shinra, which are very varied and offered lots of fun. This is another very memorable and purposeful track. (9/10)

20) Still More Fighting (Written by R-Nasty)

Now this! This is how boss themes should be done. In my opinion, the 2nd greatest boss theme that Nobuo has ever put out (behind Final Fantasy VI's amazing theme), it is probably the best track on the first disc. The opening riffs from the guitar and the keyboard solos are amazing. Every time I hear this track I picture myself fighting the many bosses throughout this game, and my blood starts pumping and I get extremely excited. Even if you are someone who does not even like video game soundtracks, you will more than likely love this track. (10/10)

21) Red XIII's Theme (Written by Chris)

Its introduction possesses tribal sounds that will hypnotise you in a way you won't believe! This really represents the outside of Red XIII — strong, proud, yet with the illusion of being primitive. It is only the much deeper second section with its stirring melodies that show his true inner intelligence and sensitivity. "Red XIII's Theme" is one of those pieces that gets stuck in your head, and you'll catch yourself humming it some time after hearing it! It is certainly a very fine addition with a very unique, tribal style to it, though it is an inferior version to a later theme, "Cosmo Canyon." (8/10)

22) Crazy Motorcycle (Written by Djinova)

The part when our party escapes the Shinra Building triggers this track. It contains some mildly funky, interesting, blood-pumping beats. It's basically a hurry theme, but with a lot of dissonance and openly urgency-insisting motifs, which show a stronger presence than those in the actual "Hurry" theme. While the first part leaves me a bit unsatisfied with everything on the same volume level, the second part, beginning at 1:07, makes a clear cut between catchy melody and dissonant beats. Adding the less and more remarkable parts and divide by 2, it remains a good, enjoyable, purpose-filling track. (7/10)

23) Holding My Thoughts in My Heart (Written by Conqueso)

The main theme of the game appears for the first time in its true (if slightly truncated) form, among gentle harp arpeggios and sweet woodwinds. This track is meant to convey the relief the party feels upon escaping Midgar for the first time, as well as their anxiousness about beginning their search for Sephiroth. It's very pretty, and makes for a lovely closer to an otherwise very dark first disc, but it's a little repetitive, and it truly pales compared to the track which follows it. (7/10)

Disc Two

1) F.F.VII Main Theme (Written by Talaysen)

This is the world map theme. One of the best, in fact. The track doesn't stay in one place for very long. The track starts out solemn and ominous, then progresses to a lively portion, and then moves on to a majestic stage. After that, the track grows ominous again. Somewhere in this time the track feels like it's going be majestic again, but it never quite gets there. It sort of gives it an anti-climatic feel. But the track stays ominous and ends basically the same way it started.

What makes this track so great is that it develops so much. This is especially good for a world map theme, as you're going to hear it a lot. The instrument arrangement used in this track is amazing as well. Each sound fits together with the rest very well. All in all, this is probably the best world map theme in an RPG in terms of composition. (10/10)

2) Ahead on Our Way (Written by Djinova)

I remembered having gotten sleepy once from this track, because it's so calm and relaxing. It just plays in front of itself, steady and unnerving. Uematsu's main strength, being the creation of wonderful melodies, comes fully to shine in such tracks. The melody moves through the whole track and binds it together. Not to forget, the choice of instruments is the key here as well. Flutes, guitar and strings are always a good combination when it's up to create a tranquil atmosphere. As such, this composition succeeds, giving this track a very harmonic and serene feeling. (9/10)

3) Good Night, Until Tomorrow (Written by Totz)

This is a good "going to sleep" track that you hear in some form within every Final Fantasy soundtrack (but mysteriously, there isn't any in Final Fantasy VIII!). This quick but enjoyable theme hardly adds any impact to the game or the soundtrack, but nonetheless nerly every Final Fantasy has to have it. The way it leaves on a rather unfinished note shows that in spite of having a small sleep, your journey is far from over and you'll have to face another day! (7/10)

4) On That Day, Five Years Ago (Written by Sssilverx2)

The theme of Cloud's past in Nibelheim. Extremely melancholy, ominous, and mysterious, it suits the mood PERFECTLY. To create the correct mood, the majority of the piece is in a minor key, and a distant harp gently strokes Em arppegios, A arpeggios, and then flourishes to an incomplete finish on Bbm6 rolled chords. The strings provide the solemn background and a solo violin takes charge on the melody. You hardcore people would also recognize this as being another variation of the masterpiece, "F.F.VII Main Theme." (9/10)

5) Farm Boy (Written by Aevloss)

While it isn't exactly gripping or interesting to listen to, I feel that this number is often forgotten — to me, it is one of the more original works on the soundtrack and the peaceful melody played by the harpsichord perfectly fits in with the farm setting it accompanies. As with "Ahead on our way," Uematsu's use of a calmer piece acts as a way of lifting the tension created by some of the darker themes on the disc, creating a nice contrast for the listener's experience. Some sections of the piece contain traces of the Chocobo theme, which is appropriate since you buy greens in the farm to catch Chocobo's back on the world map. Though perhaps not immediately captivating, I think "Farm Boy" fulfils its purpose flawlessly. (7/10)

6) Waltz de Chocobo (Written by Sssilverx2)

Ahh, what's a waltz without 3/4 time? This happy, bouncy theme for the Chocobo's playing during the Chocobo dance at your first visit to the farm. It alternates in major from C to Bb for the first half of the waltz, then over from A to G in the last half. Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary is what sets this to be, and is just your plain, standard waltz, with a quick, sudden ending, leaving me a bit unsatisfied. (7/10)

7) Electric de Chocobo (Written by Djinova)

Also known under the more informal name of "Chocobo Battle Theme," this track is very bouncy and joyful. The electronic spurt in the beginning makes it easy to picture some Chocobos rushing by. It doesn't take long until the actual catchy Chocobo theme joins in, which is played by a very bright, uplifting instrument (or electronic sound). Once again, it draws out the nature of the Chocobo quite well. But what makes this track different and beyond some others is the second part starting at 1:07. It's equally catchy and quirky as the original theme, but it's a whole improvised, newly added part. The sound of the Chocobo has been added here and there as well to give this track extra charm. The track is also one where I felt it's not hampered by weak sound quality. (9/10)

8) Cinco de Chocobo (Written by Josh Barron)

This is the best Chocobo theme out of the three thus far. The 5/4 time really gives this a bluesy Miles Davis motif. The instrumentation is selected with this in mind. The track starts off with some blues chords (with a hint of dissonance thrown in that immediately resolves and then repeats). This makes me think of a Chocobo playfully running across the plains. Not only does this track have a hint of Miles Davis, but also it sounds reminiscent of the works of Dizzy Gillespie. The bass part is superb and really works in harmony with the higher pitched instruments. I cannot remember a Chocobo track this good in a Final Fantasy game since the original! This definitely deserves a listen, and is completely nostalgic. (10/10)

9) Chasing the Black-Caped Man (Written by Chris)

This is quite a mysterious track with a really distinctive ambience to it. The main quality to this theme is its atmosphere — it possesses a certain mystical quality to it. It is not unlike "Forested Temple," in regards to the atmosphere it creates. The bad news is that it is quite repetitive throughout — the rather dull, uninspired arpeggios in the harmony fail to benefit this track, although the addition of the very mysterious second section in this track is quite a positive one. It doesn't seem to fully use its high potential, unfortunately. (8/10)

10) Fortress of the Condor (Written by Djinova)

I love this track. Although this one definitely has a strong military tone, the stompy, almost silly beginning beats suggest that it's not to be taken seriously. In fact, this music accompanies a mini-game, where you have to position several kind of cute, edgy fighters and tools up on a hill to stop some invading monsters, which climb up the mountain with great effort. I have always taken this event with humour and fun, and I guess Uematsu felt quite the same when he composed the music for it. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that the track is a complete jokish one. Already in 0:43 the track gains strong Uematsu trademark character. The horns and trumpets blast a heroic melody, which feels quite appropriate for the scene as well. All in all, it's a enjoyable tune, which always make me chuckle. (9/10)

11) Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony (Written by Totz)

This is an excellent parade march to welcome the evil Rufus into his new job as president of the ShinRa Corporation. This exciting, upbeat march is quite a contrast to the generally very dark ShinRa related themes. It sounds just like a march should sound like and suits the context it is used in the game perfectly. Uematsu has also developed the theme well, which has prevented it from becoming as repetitive as some of the others in this soundtrack. Sadly the instrumentation is rather ineffective. This theme is really begging orchestration, and all we got to offer is crappy sound quality. At the moment, it sadly sounds like the band only consists of five people, which doesn't express the true might of ShinRa's power (heck, even the Balamb Philharmonic has more people than that! And that "town" has what, two houses?)! It just sounds too weak with its current sound system — this sadly reduces its overall impact. This theme has been re-used in later soundtracks, by essentially making a brief appearance in Final Fantasy IX, but there wasn't any change to it! Can you believe that? (9/10)

12) It's Difficult to Stand on Both Feet, Isn't It? (Written by Djinova)

It's another track with a silly, goofy undertone. While I think the composition is pretty solid on this one, the sound quality is a bit messed up in this case. So the monotonous blaring of certain instruments, which is surely responsible for the silliness, gets annoying over time. The melody is alright, especially the short part around 0:57, which acts like a funny conclusion and is very catchy and listenable. In conclusion, this is a very fitting track for the particular scene in the game, fancy-catching, but a bit lengthy and slightly marred by weak synth. (7/10)

13) Trail of Blood (Written by Totz)

This is one of the few pieces that can make you feel a bit uncomfortable, considering it has a great sense of uncertainty and tension to it. It is much like a track from a horror movie in which you are left in suspense as to what will happen next! It has quite a sense of quiet emptiness throughout to represent this, and occasionally there are shocks within the track, which can create quite a fright! It is much appropriate for the Resident Evil series rather than Final Fantasy but it works nonetheless. Overall it's the atmosphere that is created by this piece that is particularly important — it is one that will keep you on the edge of your chair as you wait for something to happen. On the Original Soundtrack, that "something" is the next track!! (8/10)

14) J-E-N-O-V-A (Written by Djinova)

Straight from the beginning, Uematsu sharply marked the purpose and atmosphere of this track quite clearly. The bright, enigmatic, descending arppegios are beaming down a dangerous, extraterrestrial monster: Jenova. Not long afterwards, a simply awesome melody plays along with those arppegios. The employed instrument is neither too bright and piercing to overshadow the alien effect nor too undistinguished and low as to not set itself apart from the background beats, when the arpeggios suddenly vanish as fast as they burst in at the beginning of the track. There is also a nice fanfare part around the 1:00 minute mark, which seems to be typical in many of Uematsu's battle themes. All in all, this track is loaded with action, inspiration and style. One is likely to be driven by it as long as it plays. (10/10)

15) Continue? (Written by Totz)

This short "Game Over" piece is surprisingly good. Its simple, yet rich melody, makes losing not so bad after all! To top it off, it ends with the classic Final Fantasy "Prelude," which means, of course, that it is not over; it's only beginning. (9/10)

16) Costa Del Sol (Written by R-Nasty)

Ahh, the happy little paradise known as "Costa Del Sol." "Costa Del Sol" is made out to be a rapidly growing beach paradise, and the theme is perfect for the job. While not outstanding, when you hear this song, you will picture a beach location which features many of the games funnier moments, such as Hojo the ladies' man, and Aeris asking Cloud if she needed to get a tan. Overall, this is a catchy cool little theme, and the ukuleles add to the beach paradise effect of the location. Good theme, but probably not the piece that you bought the soundtrack for. (8/10)

17) Mark of the Traitor (Written by Lefty)

This piece is an arrangement of "Barret's Theme," but it has a much darker tone than that of the original. It is just another track that serves as a reminder of the struggles each character, especially Barret, go through during this game. It provides much nostalgia, although it does tend to get repetitive, and sounds very similar to some of the other themes. Still a memorable track, however. (8/10)

18) Mining Town (Written by Chris)

This theme is one of the least inspired of the whole soundtrack — it could have certainly been left out of the game, as well as the whole soundtrack. Although there is a brief, touching moment in the middle, all this theme does is go nowhere. This means that generally it seems rather repetitive and boring. It failed to evoke any strong emotion and just seemed a bland, pointless addition to the soundtrack. (3/10)

19) Gold Saucer (Written by R-Nasty)

Ah, the happy-go-lucky track known as "Gold Saucer." At this point our heroes find themselves, at the Las Vegas goes Final Fantasy inspired casino/gaming, expo/awesome place to take your kids. The theme does this scenery justice. When hearing this theme you automatically think a happy place where people are having fun. The musical aspect of it is simple, using the same melody over and over again. It's not all good though; the melody can get annoying sometimes, especially if you have never played this game before. Overall, though a decent track, that is pretty original and a perfect theme to be put where it is in the game. (7/10)

20) Cait Sith's Theme

Written by Gilgamesh - This one's a toughie, especially to compose for such a character as Cait Sith, a character that really wasn't meant to be developed until much later in the game. As it stands, all the player gets to know of Cait Sith initially is a random, fortune-telling monster that joins your team in a rather Chrono Cross-esque manner. With not much to work with, Cait Sith's Theme has primarily a jazzy-swing feel to it that reminds me of the casino — Cait Sith does have those dice attacks. Starting off smooth, the piece gets a little more upbeat before the loop and dies down again. It's an interesting goofy piece but does really hold up on its own musically, nor justify the character of Cait Sith later as a whole (although it was partially the game's fault that Cait Sith's character was done rather poorly). The only place I can think of where this theme works well is during the date scene when Cait Sith steals away with the Keystone. A below average track. (4/10)

Written by Aevloss - Overall, the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack's score is rather oppressive, which makes tracks like "Cait Sith's Theme" really stand out. In the game, the character of Cait Sith was not necessarily very likeable and a plot twist revealed his true intentions (though not long afterwards he permanently established himself as one of the heroes). As such, the slick jazzy melody was made to portray a seemingly harmless, but secretly devious two-faced stuffed toy under the control of Reeve of the turks — Uematsu does not disappoint. Hints of the Turk's theme can be heard in the piece and it is quite a relief to listen to a track that doesn't create a glum or foreboding atmosphere. Though not necessarily as powerful as Cid's and Aerith's themes, Cait Sith's is still perfectly suited to it's character and injects some welcome variety into the soundtrack. (7/10)

21) Sandy Badlands (Written by Gilgamesh)

Now here's a very interesting and moving little piece — I may be a bit biased since I tend to like soft melodic pieces that accompany desert and desolate settings. The track opens with a few boring notes but the synth percussion used is given a slight echo effect that really adds to the in-game environment. The gentle whistle melody that comes in may be a bit stereotypical (Western movie desert style) but it's really a nice tune. Walking around the desert prison of the Gold Saucer, seeing the crumbled houses, ruined landscapes, and getting lost really fit well with this piece. The melody repeats over and over, alternating in slight variations and gets a bit boring, but never to the point of annoyance. (7/10)

Disc Three

1) Cosmo Canyon (Written by Terraguy)

Starting out with a lone drum beating in the background, this track seems to have a kind of tribal quality. If you've heard Native American or those people who live in the bush, the beat of the drum will remind you of the kinds of pieces that they have. It starts off slow, but when the melody kicks in, it becomes catchy and not a bad track at all. Using strings and wind instruments (unable to be distinguished because of synth), it seems to be a tribal music, and it has a steady beat. The melody continues in the same way, and the melody is calm enough. It has a nice sound for those marching types, and it also has an outlandish, "faraway" kind of feeling. Soothing, pleasant, and while it does indeed repeat the same theme over, it seems new every time. (8/10)

2) Life Stream (Written by Conqueso)

The bell theme from "Opening ~ Bombing Mission" returns, this time segueing into a gentle, mystical melody very loosely based on Aeris' theme, which will be presented in full later in the disc. The introduction is just as chilling as ever, but unfortunately, the rest of the track doesn't live up to it: the accompaniment is made up entirely of simple sustained string chords, and melody lacks variety. While it's is a very soothing piece, it doesn't stand out on the soundtrack, which is unforgivable, as it represents one of the most important concepts in the game itself. (4/10)

3) Great Warrior (Written by Gilgamesh)

Also known as "Seto's Theme," this is one of my favorite tracks. Opening with the main melody portion of the "Red XIII's Theme," the soft usage of a sitar gives the listener a distinct Eastern tribal feeling. While the Final Fantasy VII world is completely made up, it's important for the music's lasting impression to stay consistent with the environment and character — I felt the entire Cosmo Canyon portion of the game accomplished this well. The theme develops into a stronger emotional burst, joined by strings and other synth instruments that work very well. Giving off the mixed emotion of sad realization and hope, this piece really works well with the scene above the Canyon when Red XIII discovers the truth about his father and finally gives up the grudge he had been holding against him. (9/10)

4) Descendant of Shinobi (Written by Totz)

This light-hearted, happy track represents the lively character of Yuffie well — it brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it! It is kind of swingy, like "Cait Sith's Theme," so you can now understand that swinged stuff = funny, yet untrustable characters. But, hey, I'm not judging anyone, I'm just reviewing a great track. (8/10)

5) Those Chosen by the Planet (Written by Josh Barron)

This is a track of pure evil. In fact, this is probably the best villain theme in the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, next to "One Winged Angel." This just gives me chills. The dissonance really adds to the feel of this track and enhances the musical experience (especially for those who have played the game). When listening, you can just imagine Sephiroth killing someone and then wiping the blood off of his sword, slowly. The only complaint about this track is the synth quality. It does get a bit nasty, but in this case the sound doesn't need to be perfect because of the frequent use of dissonance in the strings. Uematsu definitely knows how to write a scary and evil tune. I just hope that Uematsu orchestrates this tune for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Overall this track is definitely a great villain track, even though the synth can be (ever so slightly) annoying. (8/10)

6) The Nightmare's Beginning (Written by Aevloss)

This unusual piece was created to accompany the basement in which you find Vincent. It does, therefore, work quite well in the game, as it is only played once and manages to create an air of mysteriousness which compliments the character's complex, enigmatic personality. The harpsichord patterns are quite original and make a refreshing change from some of the other synthesized sounds we've been hearing in other tracks on the soundtrack, but don't really contain a strong enough melody to invoke emotions in the listener, unlike the previous track. While aptly filling it's place in the game, this is a little too repetitive and fails to develop enough to contend with the other character themes in the game, but it's originality warrants respect nonetheless. (7/10)

7) Cid's Theme (Written by Duke Lionheart)

To me, this is definitely one of Uematsu's best character themes, if not the best. It just touches my heart every time I hear it, addressing the dreamer in me. It is very emotional, and conveys many different feelings instead of just one. At the same time, there is hope and resignation, dreams and reality, and of course this certain melancholy found in all significant tracks of the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. Also, there's something so very honest, noble about it. It begins rather dark, military in C-minor, but it immediately starts to modulate into other keys and slightly brightens, making me think of a beautiful sunrise. Then the second part takes it to Eb major, and while the beat still goes on, the melody now takes you high into the sky, soaring higher and higher. And then the tune starts over again, rather harshly taking you back to the ground, and then again brightening up slowly. Never give up, that might be its message, just as Cid never really gave up his dreams. (10/10)

8) Steal the Tiny Bronco! (Written by Aevloss)

This piece is very situational, as it accompanies an FMV sequence in the game. This means that it is rather brief and the melodies within move rapidly, reducing the overall quality of the piece. Despite this, the piece perfectly fits the scene. As it begins, we hear a chirpy sequence of strings describe the light-heartedness of the scene, before launching into "Highwind Takes to the Skies." The powerful brass instruments provide a similarity to "Cid's Theme," and the percussion helps the first journey into the skies feel that much grander. The mood turns a lot darker towards the end, though, as the plane crashes into the ocean and the tune builds up to a climax. The piece ends with a comical jingle which expresses the irony of the scene. Considering how short the piece is, "Steal the Tiny Bronco!" actually develops surprisingly well, but nevertheless suffers from the slightly grating sound quality. (7/10)

9) Wutai (Written by Chris)

This oriental-sounding music effectively represents the Japanese-style town of Wutai. It is rather reminiscent of "Martial Law" in the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack, which shares the same rather 'stiff' style to it. I enjoyed this theme and felt it represented Japanese culture and music perfectly. This original style to Final Fantasy has been interpreted successfully by Uematsu to create quite a deep, and emotional theme. To me, it is one of those themes that you grow to love with more musical consideration as to how effective it is — I found the second section particularly deep and meaningful. Although this isn't the most memorable theme in the game it is certainly a considerable, and very enjoyable one that I feel is too commonly underrated. (9/10)

10) Stolen Materia (Written by Chris)

This rather cheeky, chirpy track is an arrangement of "Descendant of Shinobi," so you know Yuffie is up to no good. There is quite a sneaky and light-hearted feel that makes it ideal for representing petty thievery. This is quite a warm, and welcome addition to the soundtrack against the dark themes generally heard in this rather depressing soundtrack — this style is much more typical of the much more light-hearted game Final Fantasy IX. Sadly, this theme is rather underdeveloped and brief therefore it is far from memorable and impacting despite some success. (7/10)

11) Racing Chocobos - Place Your Bets (Written by Aevloss)

Thus, the encore begins. After a run of slightly more experimental tracks, Uematsu returns to the Chocobo theme, giving it a horrible techno-sounding makeover. In the game itself, the piece accompanies the screen on which the player can place bets on Chocobo races, which explains the upbeat tone it exudes. Although I would say it adequately fits the slightly garish and tacky Chocobo racing betting screens (And manages to have the same irritating affect as the "Gold Saucer" theme), I feel the composition lacks depth and the instrumentation is very repetitive and annoying. It is a shame to encounter a piece which has such a cheapening affect on the overall quality of the disc. (5/10)

12) Fiddle de Chocobo (Written by Duke Lionheart)

One of the most entertaining Chocobo themes and definitely the fastest. Now this one is truly energetic and pure exuberance. It sounds very much like Country music with just fiddle, steel guitar, acoustic bass and drums. The first part of the Chocobo theme is played by fiddle, with the guitar strumming, then guitar takes over for the second part. After one repeat there's this wonderful break part with someone crying "Yehaw!" I love this; it just fits in so well. Then variations of the Chocobo theme are taken through different keys, until the guitar and fiddle join for a great final spurt. I'd love to see some guys who can play this live at the same speed, if there are any. Myself, I must admit that I get exhausted by just listening to this tune. Crazy. (9/10)

13) A Great Sucess (Written Aevloss)

This track was hardly worth including on the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack at all. The track sounds very much like the "Victory Fanfare," only it has been styled to sound almost retro-ish. In my opinion, it is worse than the original, and while it was an acceptable way to describe a victory in a Chocobo race, it hardly needed to be included on the disc. This track is uninspired, uncreative, and the sound quality (though I presume it was intended to sound like it did) makes it barely listenable outside of its context. (3/10)

14) Tango of Tears (Written by Duke Lionheart)

Much better than "A Great Success," this track is another variation on the Fanfare, and with a similar Game Boy-like sound. But as it's to played after losing the race, it's all in a minor key. What makes it even cooler is the funny arpeggios in the background, and that it indeed is a Tango. (7/10)

15) Debut

Written by Conqueso - This is easily one of the top ten goofiest tracks on the entire Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, not counting the Chocobo theme and the variations thereof. In many ways it sounds like a drastically scaled-down version of "Gold Saucer," sharing the tone and structure of the former track while being more homophonic in texture and instrumentation. It works very well in the context of the game (during a silly play Cloud and the lovely person of his choice perform in during their date at the Gold Saucer), but it can get boring once divorced from its context. (6/10)

Written by Duke Lionheart - A simple tune, almost entirely played by woodwind instruments only. It starts with a playful, warm medieval melody in A minor, which is followed by a childish second melody in D major. Then a nice variation of the first theme appears, followed by pizzicato strings doing scales up and down. I somehow like this track: It fits in so well on the disc, between the racing themes and the romantic/mystic themes. After "Tango of Tears," the simplicity and hopefulness of its opening motif is really welcome. Sadly, after that catchy motif, the tune tends to get a bit annoying. (6/10)

16) Interrupted by Fireworks

Written by Conqueso - Any game with even a hint of romance needs a sweeping love theme, and this track fits the bill precisely. It's actually a variation on the first half of the main theme in 6/8 played on bells and flute, and accompanied by harp arpeggios and tremolo strings. The structure is more rhapsodic than the fairly strict AA'BA'' of the original material, and instead of being epic and powerful, it's tender, intimate, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Regrettably, it's very short, which robs it of much of its potential power (and keeps me from giving it a 10). Nonetheless, it's a wonderful track, and one of the standouts on the soundtrack. (9/10)

Written by Sssilverx2 - As already mentioned, this is yet another variation of the main theme in 6/8, and the flute (or oboe) plays an extremely emotional and memorable melodic line. The harp accompaniment flows excellently, switching from both major to minor. Now, in such a romantic song, why would minor keys be used? The key to this piece is, although it could be considered the love theme for Cloud and (your date) its bittersweet. The game intends to have Cloud and Aeris date up, therefore the piece in context makes more sense. Aeris, well, we all know what happens to her, and Cloud with his usual mixed emotions and the triangle involving him, Aeris, and Tifa.

Without context, the listener should easily be able to pick out the changes from major to minor, most notably in Part B and C of the piece. Part A alternates between C and D major before transitioning over to Bminor in Part B. Part C is the most emotional section, as the oboe literally cries out, almost in confusion and hopelessness before transitioning and repeating back to the more hopeful section A. Excellently done, and one of the most memorable, bittersweet love tracks I've heard in the entire Final Fantasy series. (10/10)

17) Forested Temple (Written by Aevloss)

If a person listened to "Forested Temple" without having any prior knowledge of where it was played in the game, and was oblivious to its title, I believe they could create a detailed picture of the place this piece was intended to describe. This is the beauty of the track and, indeed, Uematsu's approach to the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack score. "Forested Temple" manages to reflect the mystery and ancient magic surrounding the Temple of the Ancients whilst also giving it a slightly light-hearted tone through use of the ascending harpsichord, chirpy pizzicato strings, and meaningful tubular bells. Uematsu manages to create a slightly quirky theme for the ancients, which he reuses in later tracks, and, although it isn't the most creative piece on the soundtrack, it certainly creates the perfect atmosphere required. (8/10)

18) You Can Hear the Cry of the Planet (Written by Duke Lionheart)

Just like "Forested Temple," this track is a very atmospheric one. The main difference is that the latter describes a certain location, and this one describes a certain feeling, which is expressed in the title already. It is also much more continuous, with the strange synthesizer sound repeating the same 6-note motif over and over again. The rest is just built around that motif: strings, choirs, and harps, always holding up a certain amount of tension which is never really released. This is one of the few times in the soundtrack a sound sample used is just perfect; were if not that good, the whole track would be annoying. But it is, in fact, addictive: you're immediately caught in a kind of trance, and your heart is helplessly exposed to melancholy. Perhaps the most atmospheric track on the soundtrack. (9/10)

19) Aerith's Theme (Written by Aevloss)

This particular track is one of Uematsu's most acclaimed pieces and is most certainly one of the highlights of the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. It begins similarly to "Aria di Mezzo Carattere" from the opera sequence in Final Fantasy VI, with a short piano solo before the main string and brass instruments play the highly evocative theme which represents the tragic heroine Aeris. The melodies Uematsu uses are nothing short of magnificent, and manage to convey sadness and loss as well as hope and possibility — it somehow invokes a sense of beauty and perfection and seems to symbolize "life," which is one of the main themes of the game itself — and this was very appropriate considering how each character's life was changed by the poignant moment in the story in which the track was specifically used. The main scene "Aerith's Theme" was composed for was enhanced by the emotional music in a way that words cannot describe, and the bittersweet scene supporting the wonderful piece of music that accompanies it helps make Final Fantasy VII such a memorable experience. I personally believe this is one of the best pieces of music Uematsu has ever composed and is, in my opinion, probably the best track on the entire soundtrack. (10/10)

20) Buried in the Snow (Written by Conqueso)

Your typical "snowy" music, stuffed to the brim with bells and strings. Sadly, it's very, very dull to listen to. It's a sweet, mysterious little throwaway track, but Uematsu tries to develop its little three-note melody far beyond what it's capable of, and at nearly five minutes, it collapses under its own weight. (4/10)

21) The Great Northern Cave (Written by Chris)

This impressive, atmospheric track seems rather underrated to me. Uematsu has successfully manipulated the style of this track to represent the Northern Cave within the game — this is a place of awe, mystery, and holiness, and Uematsu captures all these elements reasonably successfully. Sadly, even though it is musically effective, this theme seems rather hindered by the poor sound quality that has held back so many tracks in this soundtrack. Due to this, the feeling of awe and might in this track is rather limited — the synthesised vocals sounded particularly weak. This track is clearly begging to be orchestrated so it could fulfil its potential! Musically, Uematsu has developed this track well by slowly building up the instrumentation and texture of the piece so that it feels reasonably mighty in places despite sound quality. The rather simple melodies used are quite rich and engrossing, although perhaps not as inspired as some themes within the soundtrack. This theme within the game replaces the "F.F.VII Main Theme" as the world map theme; although the "F.F.VII Main Theme" is much more melodically engrossing I feel this is generally a positive change, considering it communicates a darker feel to the game effectively. (8/10)

22) Reunion (Written by Chris)

This is a very mysterious theme that is used as background music to represent travelling the long journey through the 'Whirlwind Maze' to reach the arch villain of the game, Sephiroth. It is a theme of mystery, yet of revealed truth, and is met with considerable success — it creates quite a mystical atmosphere that is needed in this journey, but there is also a sense of boundlessness to it that represents the long adventure the characters face. It is rather similar in atmosphere to "The Great Northern Cave," though it lacks originality and that really special edge that would make it stand out. It seems quite an average, simply passable track, and it is also rather repetitive and unvaried, which means that sadly, when replaying the theme, it becomes rather monotonous. (7/10)

23) Who am I? (Written by Terraguy)

Synth instruments and a harp make their tune in this track. Incorporating the "F.F.VII Main Theme" in a minor tone, with a repetitive background, this track is by no mean fancy, but not very memorable either. The choice of tracks can be interesting; after all, it's the "F.F.VII Main Theme," and the same tone of "Who Are You?" It's a spooky piece, designed to set up the next track, but it's not very exciting. Take this track in small doses. (5/10)

Disc Four

1) Shinra Army Wages a Full-Scale Attack (Written by Dave)

This is a militaristic opening to the fourth disc of the album, which sees the album grows darker. Military themes are prominent on this disc, and in comparison to the other discs, we can see that this is certainly a change in scene. This track is action-packed and climactic in every sense. As well as this, feelings of tension are brought in through prolonged chords and its powerful, albeit simple, melodic line. This is an effective representation of Shinra's attacks against Weapon, and it is a great way to start an album. (9/10)

2) Weapon Raid (Written by Chris)

This continues the powerful, militaristic style demonstrated in the previous track, yet much more threatening. This theme is used within the game to represent a fierce attack — the anger and energy behind the theme is perfect for this context. It is pumped with adrenaline and tension, and really helps to make the scene it is used in within the game as shocking as it should be. The dark, low-pitched melodies are ideal for this context — it is also interesting that parts of Sephiroth's theme "Those Chosen by the Planet" are included to make it even more chilling. Uematsu has done a fantastic job creating this shocking but very successful theme here. (10/10)

3) Highwind Takes to the Skies (Written by Terraguy)

A flute plays in the background, creating repeated sixteenth notes as other instruments build in and start flowing together. Uematsu blends the instruments together to convey the sense of flying into the track, by adding many faster notes and regular progressions. However, Uematsu also adds a drum beat to some places in the track, to instil the same militaristic theme common throughout this disc. Together, the flowing notes and militaristic playback supports the "F.F.VII Main Theme," which plays as the main melody. As everyone knows, the "F.F.VII Main Theme" is excellent, and this piece, with additional interludes, is no exception. (9/10)

4) A Secret, Sleeping in the Deep Sea (Written by Leer317)

The entire piece contains some stringed instruments that pulse every second or so, with different tones depending on the main melody. The main melody is a simple flute-like synthesized instrument. The different tones of pulsing strings effectively portray the quiet but intricate mechanics inside a submarine, seemingly making it flow like clockwork. The simple flute melody majestically portrays the sea, that seems mysterious, but is in no way threatening. Needless to say, I don't like this track. The pulsing strings really get annoying really quickly. The simple melody is in itself repetitive, and since there are hardly any other instruments, we are forced, through most of the track, to focus on the pulsing strings, and it really seems like some sort of torture. (5/10)

5) Parochial Town (Written by Omega)

This is a nice little piece that is played during your visit in Bone village. It's quite simple piece, being divided in two parts, and features nothing special, despite some jazz motifs. It certainly fits nicely in the game, though it gets a bit annoying after repeating over and over again. (6/10)

6) Off the Edge of Despair (Written by Dave)

"Off the Edge of Despair" is a simple, yet effective track. A synth instrument of some sort plays an accompaniment that doesn't change at all throughout the track, and accompanying this is a piano that plays two alternating chords for the majority of the track. The whole track is based upon a simple melody, which reflects an incapacitated Cloud and Tifa's desperation to make him better. The track has a very sombre feel to it, and sorrow is apparent through the descending and weeping nature of its delicate melody. This isn't the most instrumentally interesting track to listen to, however it evokes a lot of feeling, despite its underdevelopment. (7/10)

7) On the Other Side of the Mountain (Written by Chris)

This calm, revealing theme is used to interpret the side of the character Vincent we didn't really see in "The Nightmare's Beginning." Some people argue that a slow, soothing theme is not appropriate to represent Vincent, however, such people must consider that he has much more depth and history to him than just being a vampire. This piece can be considered the opposite of "The Nightmare's Beginning," because this one shows the inner Vincent, while the outer Vincent is shown in "The Nightmare's Beginning." The beautiful melodies used within this theme are very relaxing, however there is also some sense of mystery within them due to some more unusual chord sequences being used like they were in "The Nightmare's Beginning". The light, soothing touch of the harpsichord really shows that it is the ideal instrument for this theme. I felt, however, that it would benefit from more variation, considering it is sadly rather repetitive throughout. This reduces the long-term impact of this theme, and makes it seem rather dull after repeated listens. (8/10)

8) Hurry Faster! (Written by Omega)

There's always another one. "Hurry Faster!" is a faster and more action filled-theme than "Hurry." It reminds a bit of "Fighting" and "Still more fighting," and is the theme that represents most of the action during the ending parts of Final Fantasy VII. It starts out in a similar way to "Fighting" with almost identical beginning tones. After a while into the theme, it gets even faster and even more beaty. This is one of the many pieces on the soundtrack that is unforgettable. Basically, this theme has everything an action theme should have. The only thing to complain about is that it is perhaps a bit too similar to "Fighting." (9/10)

9) Sending a Dream into the Universe (Written by Chris)

This theme is an enchanting variation on the highly acclaimed "Cid's Theme." Although there are no major variations from the original melody, the other changes made ensure this piece represents the end of the long journey the characters have to face in Final Fantasy VII; it shows their hope and dreams to destroy the forces that threaten the planet, however it also represents the tragic sacrifices they will have to make to achieve this. There is a much softer feel to "Sending a Dream into the Universe" compared to the original — the slower tempo, and beautiful harp solos all convey this. (9/10)

10) The Countdown Begins (Written by Chris)

This music is used to represent quite a climatic FMV sequence within the game. Like most FMV music, this lacks the length and impact compared to some other tracks, though there is a great sense of motion and energy to this theme with a lot of contrasting emotions and events being portrayed. It starts off rather tense with a lot of uncertainty to it, much like a chase. However, this then develops into a lively but brief variation of "Highwind Takes to the Skies," which is full of hope and excitement. However the last chord is very much unexpected, which makes the piece sound rather unfinished like a cliffhanger before the conclusion to the game. This theme really represents the start of the end in the game as well as the soundtrack, and is one of the better cinematic themes used in a Final Fantasy soundtrack. (7/10)

11) If You Open Your Hearts (Written by Chris)

Although there is a clear intention to make this theme a calm, revealing theme, this isn't effectively realised. The poor sound quality particularly hinders the theme from expressing any beauty and the background is also too repetitive for my liking. Although there are beautiful moments (particularly when it develops), the majority of this theme is repetitive and annoying. It has a lot of potential, with a little hidden beauty, but doesn't end up having much impact after all. (6/10)

12) The Makou Cannon is Fired ~ Shinra Explodes (Written by Chris)

This FMV accompaniment music is longer than normally, and, although still reasonably brief, I felt it was a lot more impacting than its earlier counterpart, "The Countdown Begins". It starts with a very tense atmosphere, which features some intricately crafted melodies, perfect for creating the feeling of suspense. At the end, however, we see a brief recapitulation of the "Shinra Company" theme — this represents the company's destruction as it fades away to nothing. This is the last we hear of the Shinra-oriented tracks and is certainly quite an effective end to them. (8/10)

13) Judgement Day (Written by Dave)

This theme is used as the final dungeon theme within the game, and, to some extent, reflects a feeling of hope. The melody is inspirational, and the aggressive bass line adds to the militaristic feel of the track. It takes a while for the track to grow on you, but when it does, it is a real gem. Its hopeful feel seems somewhat clouded in places by an aura of sadness that reflects our heroes' anguish. The harmonies are a great accompaniment to the main melody, and the drum bass adds a sense of structure to it. This track is very underrated, yet it is a really good track, and it is definitely worthy of a 9. (9/10)

14) Jenova Absolute (Written by whitetigah)

Used during the very last battle against Jenova, this track is an arrangement of "Fighting" and "J-E-N-O-V-A" Because of this, it still retains the basic structure of the pieces it was derived from, but is more elaborated, with some extra oomph, giving it a more decisive feeling. (8/10)

15) The Birth of God (Written by Omega)

This theme starts out in a nice beaty way, just as a boss theme should. The following parts are good and suit perfectly for a boss fight. It has a nice variation of melodies and the bell part, which would represent the darker side of the theme, is just excellent. I can't really think of anything negative about this theme, and I simply love it. (9/10)

16) One Winged Angel (Written by Chris)

To many, this theme is Uematsu's best, yet to others it is a source of resentment, since it is so widely acclaimed that many tracks are unfortunately ignored in favour of it. I'll focus principally on why it is generally liked, of which there are several reasons. Primarily, originality is an important factor — this theme adopts a truly gothic style that involves the accompaniment of a full Latin choir!! This genre is totally original to the series, as well as video game music in general , and is an amazing and welcome change from the much more classical style we expect to here in Uematsu's video game music. This style allows the way for really striking and inspired vocal passages that are simply unforgettable!

It's the dark, threatening atmosphere that really makes this track what it is today — it can be described in parallel with movie soundtracks such as "Psycho" (which Sephiroth also is), being intimidating and adrenaline pumping. There is also a great sense of climax to this piece, which is obviously perfect as a final boss theme; the thick textures that build up with the addition of vocals really helps to create this sense of culmination. Its fast pace also helps to create a sense of energy, which is essential for any boss theme.

I felt the only real disappointment with this theme was sound quality, which detracted from the clarity and true power of the theme away in places — the pre-recorded sound seen in themes such as "Liberi Fatali" in its successor's soundtrack is much more impressive and adds the full awe needed. This problem with sound quality spoils most themes in this soundtrack to some extent, and means the soundtrack reflects quite badly overall! The sound quality is much better in the orchestrated form of "One Winged Angel" in the Reunion tracks, however I felt the original form has more overall impact! I felt it has more originality, and impact compared to the fantastic theme "Dancing Mad" in Final Fantasy VI also. This is a truly amazing theme that shows the genius of Uematsu — in rating I feel it goes way off the appropriate scale for video game music! (10/10)

17) World Crisis (Written by Chris)

This is the first ending theme as such within the game, and typically, like earlier instalments to the series, it is a medley to recapitulate old themes. However, unlike "Staff Roll," this theme is intended to accompany the game's final FMV sequence as opposed to creating the final conclusion to the game — it is a theme of uncertainty rather than one that sums up everything. This sense of uncertainty is ideal for the game considering the FMV sequence it accompanies is all about the uncertain fate of the characters within the game who have to make their final sacrifice to the planet, and this ending leaves many unanswered questions, much like "World Crisis" does.

In terms of feeling this theme has it all — there is love, evil, hope, despair, suspense all seen throughout this theme. There are enjoyable, original melodies along with the recapitulation of familiar themes such as "Aerith's Theme," "Tifa's Theme," "Main Theme," "Highwind Takes to the Skies," and "Those Chosen by the Planet". These themes are all what adds the varying emotion to the track and are also what makes "World Crisis" so melodically engrossing overall.

The way this theme ends on a particularly sour note with "Those Chosen by the Planet" shows just how dark, and unfinished the ending really is — this is an unexpected but effective twist from the normal, happy upbeat ending seen in most ending themes. It is a shocking change from the very light-hearted albeit hackeneyed ending theme heard in Final Fantasy VI. Nonetheless, it is perfect for the FMV sequence is accompanies and though the series' other ending themes are more enjoyable overall, "World Crisis" is a little deeper. (8/10)

18) Staff Roll (Written by Chris)

This theme continues from where "World Crisis" left off to provide the end credits theme for Final Fantasy VII. This theme provides a much stronger sense of conclusion to the game, and I found it much more uplifting and hopeful compared to "World Crisis". This is really what is needed to make a good ending to the soundtrack, although it is not as deep as the previous track. We are offered part of the "Opening Theme — Bombing Mission" as the introduction to this theme — by recapitulating this, Uematsu is essentially linking the introduction with the finale of the soundtrack to sum up everything we've heard, and felt, from this soundtrack. It is often said that a good conclusion is one that sums up the ideas in the introduction. This adds a certain amount of grandeur and militarism to the theme, and is ideal for showing the conclusion is quickly approaching.

The theme transitions into a soft, love theme that is rather reminiscent of "Interrupted by Fireworks." This adds a lot of emotion and depth to this theme, proving to be a very musical and enjoyable addition. It's appearence is brief, however, as there is quite a sudden transition to a rendition of "Highwind Takes to the Sky." It's brash and uplifting nature makes it a positive change from "World Crisis," though the recapitulation is rather brief and underdeveloped, meaning it doesn't entirely satisfy. Finally, "Staff Roll" theme ends with a firm conclusion by the addition of the very familiar "Final Fantasy" themes, which has been used to recapitulate soundtracks in most of the Final Fantasy soundtracks. This is a melodic theme that also possesses a certain majesticism to it, and it is undoubtedly the perfect finish for the soundtrack, since it is such an effective trademark theme. I found "Staff Roll" to be a very striking, and enjoyable theme overall, certainly rivaling other ending themes in the series, but was let down by some poor transitions and inadequate selection of tracks. (8/10)


Written by Chris

Overall we can see that this soundtrack is certainly a very worthy one. Behind the album there is a lot of inspiration from Uematsu's genius — he has created a wide array of memorable, and atmospheric tracks that suit the game perfectly as the track-by-track reviews will hopefully show. Sadly, not all tracks live up to this status — although there are several tracks in this soundtrack that are true masterpieces, there are a lot of tracks with wasted potential and could be much more. Problems such as poor sound quality, lack of inspiration, and too much repetition seem to be the main reasons why many tracks fail. While a considerable and fine addition to the series, it is far from the best, being neither as refined as it is predecessor nor as original as its successor. Nonetheless, as by far the most popular game music score ever created, it is essential that you listen to this one, since it is so widely known and is the basis of a lot of today's VGM. (8/10)

Written by Dave

This soundtrack reflects Uematsu's very temperamental relationship with his inspiration at the time. There are several epics in the soundtrack — with "One Winged Angel" perhaps being the most famed — but there are also some poor ones as well. The thing that lets the album down the most is the fact that tracks with such potential, are very rarely fully developed. Furthermore, there are frequent problems such as poor sound quality and too much melodic repetition. Uematsu is certainly far from his best with this album, contrary to popular belief. This album is an average Uematsu album, but is still very worthy listening and probably the most famous video game soundtrack ever created. (8/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 8/10