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Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - hands-on

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is simply the most exciting playable game at the entire Square Enix Party 2007. It actually delves deep into the mythology of that RPG classic from ten years ago, offering up a story that was only hinted out in its sprawling confines. And beyond that, it's the best-looking PSP game to date. Simply put, it's living up to its potential and, unless Square Enix is hiding something, should even erase the sad memories of Dirge of Cerberus.

We were able to both catch a new trailer in the Closed Mega Theater and get plenty of hands-on time with the playable demo, so we've got lots of info for you. The game stars Zack, a member of SOLDIER, the military force run by the Shinra Electric Power Company, the malevolent corporation that controls the entire city of Midgar in FFVII. Zack has a strange relationship with Cloud, FFVII 's main character, and of course Cloud appears briefly in every movie we've seen so far - this was no exception. But the latest trailer and demo proved that this is truly Zack's story and judging from what we've seen it has very little to do with Cloud directly.

The story seems to encompass the time when SOLDIER's members are first being modified with the cells of Jenova, the alien being which gave Sephiroth his terrible powers. As anyone who beat FFVII knows, Sephiroth appears as "one winged angel" in the final battle, and that form is common, apparently, to all of the characters modified with Jenova's cells.

It's a bit difficult to tell exactly where the alliances of the characters in the demo lie. For example, at one point, Zack and Angeal Hewley, another member of SOLDIER, seem to be friends and allies - in fact, Angeal asks for Zack's help - saying "lend me your strength" - and seemingly gets it, as the two fly toward the Shinra tower to fight against enemies together.

But Zack also cooperates with Sephiroth, seemingly against Angeal, who's infiltrating the Shinra building - with Zack and Seph under the command of Shinra brass. Also, Zack once says that anyone with a wing is a monster - and in another cutscene remarks "that wing, come to me, too." Basically, with the way everything was shown out of order with no ability to tell what part of the game is what, it's tough to piece together the story. One cutscene seems to show Sephiroth, Angeal and Genesis (more on him shortly) having a three-way battle. At one point, Angeal remarks of the winged SOLDIERs "we're monsters," and later remarks "I want to become human." At one point Zack says "a person with a wing is a monster" (to Genesis) but at another point agrees to cooperate with the winged Angeal. It's clearly going to be a complex and involved story - an FFVII hallmark, if nothing else. And - oh yeah - Angeal walks around holding the Buster Sword Cloud will eventually wield in FFVII (or one just like it.) Mysterious!