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Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack :: Review by Horhay

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


Released for the PlayStation in 1997, Final Fantasy VII has become the defining moment for the system and role playing games in general. The game featured a handful of colorful characters with magic powers and combat skills. Their main objective was to stop an evil corporation, known as Shinra, from taking advantage of its citizens and destroying their city. Along the way, the characters soon discover that there's more behind this cruel company and later find themselves trying to save the world.

The game's music was composed, arranged, and produced by Nobuo Uematsu, and was completed in a year's time. Considering how huge and epic the game turned out, constructing a musical setting that reflected the game's story and characters was no easy task. Uematsu opted to work directly with the PlayStation's synthesized MIDI capabilities. The soundtrack is made up of 4 discs and features a whopping 82 tracks. Also included is a booklet with liner notes and artwork. Now, on with the show.


The soundtrack starts with a dark and industrial tone. "Mako Reactor" and "Shinra Company" are overpowering with loud drums, howling synthesizers, and helicopter propeller sound effects. But not everything is depressing and synthetic. About halfway into the disc, "Don of Slums" and "Honeybee Manor" provide some lighthearted entertainment with goofy flute arrangements and charming bells. But perhaps the disc's brightest spots are the tender moments. "Tifa's Theme" and "Flowers Blooming in the Church" are delicately arranged and contain exceptional brass and flute work.

The second disc gets the ball rolling with "F.F.VII Main Theme." Its excellent use of the piano and synthesizers gives off an incredible feeling of sorrow and uncertainty. After that's all done, the disc jumps all over the map. "Farm Boy" paints a country side portrait with its plucked strings and spontaneous flutes. "Costa Del Sol" could be an anthem for any beach resort with its sultry vibraphone work and Latin drumming. The disc is rounded out with a few diverse efforts. "Cait Sith's Theme is a quirky jazz tune, while "Gold Saucer" reflects a carefree amusement park atmosphere.

The strong tribal drums and storytelling flute of "Cosmo Canyon" kicks off the third disc. Then things expand into an oriental vibe with "Great Warrior" and later down the road with "Wutai". However, the disc contains a handful of fillers. "Place Your Bets" replicates a bustling casino environment, and "Fiddle De Chocobo" is a little too hillbilly for anyone's own good. Luckily, a few stellar tracks emerge from the wasted minutes. "Cid's Theme" is an uplifting, patriotic outing composed of strings, trumpets, and French horns. On the other side of the fence, "Aerith's Theme" is a beautiful piano/symphony combination that overflows with emotion and sadness.

The final disc stays the most consistent. The marching drum intro to "Shinra Army Wages a Full-Scale Attack" places you right in the middle of an assembling infantry, while the alarming trumpets found in "Weapon Raid" gives the impression that it's the end of the world. But a hint of optimism is found amidst these clouds of chaos. "On the Other Side of the Mountain" is a soothing acoustic guitar showcase, and "If You Open Your Heart" is a guitar-driven experience brought together by the tuba, piccolo, and bells.

But not all is fine and dandy in the world of Final Fantasy. Sound quality seems to vary between songs. It's not something that spoils the entire ride, but you feel a little cheated because themes aren't as crisp and detailed as they should be. Another problem is the repetitiveness of some tracks. The majority of the tracks are looped to play twice, but there are some that get to the point where you have to press the skip button right when the first loop is complete.


In the end, I'm happy with the soundtrack. Nobuo Uematsu created a solid collection of themes that resulted into a unique gaming and listening experience. It has without a doubt been the most popular in the series, and great demand for the soundtrack has caused numerous re-releases over the past few years. Highly recommended for those that enjoy the series or game music. Although it's a slightly flawed soundtrack, it nonetheless delivers the vibrant sounds and unforgettable images that make up the Final Fantasy VII universe.

Overall Score: 8/10