Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII - hands on

Our originalpreviewfor Dirge of Cerberus, based on the final Japanese version of the game, suggested - in the nicest possible way - that it might not be that hot. We admitted that it was "a fairly standard third-person run-and-gun adventure." We slid in the suggestion that "it could be argued that the gameplay is incidental to the characters and setting." The game's claim to fame is that it's a Final Fantasy VII spin-off, not that it's a top-shelf shooter, right? That much is obvious. After putting in time with the Japanese retail game, we eventually concluded that "we can only hope Square Enix gives this game a serious once-over before shoving it out the door here."

Fortunately, it looks like that's exactly what it has done. No amount of tweaking can work miracles; the same things we noticed when playing the Japanese version continue to confound us - the levels are mazes full of exploding barrels and unintelligent enemies, at least at the game's outset. But if there was an element of the game that could be tweaked, so it has been.

The most important and positive difference from the Japanese version is the vastly improved camera system. In that version, Vincent about bumped his ass on the TV's glass; his tattered cape and Pantene Pro-V pretty-boy hair blocked off, oh, the entire left third of the screen, give or take. Recognizing that U.S. gamers are used to controlling third person shooters, Square Enix has opted to zoom things out to a reasonable distance; you can walk around, gun in hand, ready for action at all times.