FFVII Dirge of Cerberus – Shoot him in the head! Shoot while you’re in his head!

doc-2017-07-04-16h43m59s637Chapter 12-1: Omega & Chaos

Chapter 12 begins with Yuffie running into the room just in time to see Vincent smacked into the wall by the Lifestream. Meanwhile, outside of the city, it seems like the WRO has managed to destroy basically every part of the city but the reactors. A great pillar of Lifestream rises up and tendrils of mako energy shoot out to reactors, as the Omega Weapon manifests in the ruins of Midgar and the clouds open to reveal Kingdom Hearts. Urm… the moon. The clouds open to reveal the moon.

Meanwhile, Vincent is trapped inside of Omega, and transforms into Chaos. This allows him to break free of Omega, though Omega simply restores its body and traps Vincent in a force field of some sort. Somewhere beneath the city, Shelke announces that “Chaos has been drawn out to serve as a counterbalance.” Um… no? Chaos’ role is to gather all life to Omega. You could go so far as to argue that maybe Chaos is supposed to wipe out all life on the planet so that it can be gathered to Omega, which was Kyle and my theory at the time, and actually turned out to be true, as we would soon be backed up by an Omega Report! There is nothing else in the entire game up until this point about Chaos being a counterbalance to Omega, which is annoying but the game is going to carry on about Chaos being a counterbalance for the remaining 45 minutes or so (except, again, that upcoming Omega Report!). You’d think if it was so important for them to have a duel between Chaos and Omega, you’d think they’d have… I don’t know… set up a duel between Chaos and Omega, instead of the exact opposite?

doc-2017-07-04-16h44m40s331But DoC isn’t interested in setting anything up. Shelke declares that the souls inside Omega are a virtual network and she should be able to Synaptic Net Dive them. Ah-huh. You’d better hold your nose, Shelke, because I’m pretty sure this plot point still smells like the inside of the author’s ass. Finding her old SND equipment, Shelke performs the dive and finds a deific vision of a woman inside of Chaos’ collection of souls. The figure hands Shelke a Materia-like sphere, and Shelke escapes Omega to give the sphere to Vincent: it is the Protomateria, and Shelke now looks like Lucrecia. Except… Lucrecia now appears to be a redhead, either in an attempt to give her Shelke’s hair or because of weird lighting, which makes Lucrecia look even more like Shalua than usual. Kyle and I weren’t sure this was supposed to be Lucrecia when we first watched it, and debated who this was supposed to be for a long time. At first, I thought this was an impressive bit of work that the game had two characters that could fill the same role for Vincent and who were designed to be so alike (Shalua and Lucrecia), but after looking over the game in this Journal… I’m not entirely sure the authors of this game are capable of that kind of symbolism? I feel like this might be one of those situations where poor enough work can be mistaken for a genuine plot element?

Lucrecia is… honestly somewhat comically… snapped back to Omega as though she were tethered with an elastic band, and Vincent regains control over his Chaos form. Of course, being Vincent Valentine, his very first act after regaining control of his body is to enter a godforsaken flashback. In this flashback, we learn that Lucrecia didn’t originally plan on using the Protomateria in Vincent, but that Vincent began to die during her attempts to heal his gunshot wound, she became overcome with guilt over the loss of his father and so infused Vincent with Chaos to make sure he would survive, and then she added the Protomateria to help him control Chaos. Unfortunately, even that didn’t seem to have been enough.

doc-2017-07-04-16h46m08s273We jump ahead an unspecified period of time to the same lab, where Lucrecia is shouting about baby Sephiroth being taken away from her, even though the game had basically forgotten about Sephiroth by now. It’s not a problem with the scene itself, so much as it is with all the game to date. Geeze, what was it I was saying in the Crisis Core Journal about a prologue that doesn’t seem to have been written with its few founding scenes in mind? Welcome to the sequel that does the same thing! I mean, I’m glad to have an FFVII game that doesn’t orbit around Sephiroth, but don’t erase him when he’s still somewhat relevant! At the very least, Sephiroth’s birth does impact the plot by causing Lucrecia to abandon her research on Vincent. The scene that follows is fractured and deliberately misleading, mentioning the words “memory copy.” Long story short: by the end of it Lucrecia has gone off and disappeared, with the implication that she may have gone to kill herself. Or maybe to banish herself at the mako spring? I suppose you can interpret for yourself.

A new flashback to just before the events of the game shows us Shelke receiving the orders to incorporate Lucrecia’s memory into her mind – apparently, Lucrecia stored them online just like Hojo had. The funeral of the future! At the end of this flashback chain, the game seems to imply that Vincent saw all of this in Shelke’s memory. Shelke urges Vincent to reconnect with Lucrecia, and Vincent ends up speaking with an abstraction of Lucrecia made from Shelke’s memories. This fragment of Lucrecia attempts to apologize to Vincent, all while he sits and ignores her for a solid three minutes, after which we cut to Vincent standing and screaming her name. I don’t even know what to make of this game at this point.

doc-2017-07-04-16h47m20s285Back in the present, Vincent takes on Chaos’ form and plunges through miles of earth to collect Shelke and bring her to the surface. Shelke once again urges Vincent to tell Lucrecia how he feels in person, but Vincent needs to deal with Omega first. Vincent then held out his arm and summoned an over-elaborate gun to his hand. I regret that only Kyle was there to hear me say: “Soil! Is my power!”

Vincent flew up to the ruin of Midgar and began to proceed across the rooftops. He was a lot faster now as Chaos, and while he couldn’t technically fly, friction and momentum weren’t concerns in the same way as before. It also turned out that Vincent’s Magun was actually the Death Penalty, his ultimate weapon from FFVII. And it was pretty handy, able to kill most enemies sent at us by Omega Weapon in a single shot. These enemies were mostly flower-like pods that flew at us and tried to fire rays of energy, and shield-like enemies that… well I’m not honestly sure, since we seem to have shot them dead on sight in almost all instances. Unfortunately, the Death Penalty did have ammunition, and we weren’t sure how likely it would be that the game would throw us a jukebox during this apocalyptic final segment (excusing the upcoming chapter break, it didn’t), so we had to watch our ammo. As we soon learn, our previous guns were lost at this point, not to be used again.

doc-2017-07-04-16h47m47s858After a cutscene depicting an aerial battle against the pods, Vincent ascended a tower and we located the second-last Omega Report, which just happened to be lying around in this exact, random part of the city, I guess! This was the report that confirmed our theory that Chaos’ role in the Planet’s lifecycle was to kill everybody, but even it insisted this somehow made Chaos the “antithesis” of Omega, instead of a compliment, confusing the matter. I realize the idea here is that Hojo has taken these primeval forces and twisted their purposes, but is everyone really so confused about those original purposes? Is everyone forgetting the part about Chaos being Omega’s “squire” and apparent servant? This report also added the detail that Chaos would be the only soul left on the planet after Omega left, which certainly sounds dreary and is satisfactory as worldbuilding goes, but is hardly relevant to the plot at hand. A little further up the tower, we found the last Omega report, which supposed the Protomateria was created by the Planet to stave off its own death at the hands of Chaos. Um… sure, Lucrecia, whatever you say. The cycle of life deliberately tried to stall the cycle of life. Give this woman a Nobel, and the game’s writer a Pulitzer.

After a firefight atop the tower, Omega sent out a wave of energy, seemingly to repel Vincent, only for him to be saved when the FFVII cast members finally destroy the eight Midgar reactors, bringing an end to the legacy of Shinra. This scene also confirms that Cid seems to have survived the destruction of the Shera’s engines, though the fate of that airship itself will have to wait until later in the game. Vincent rushed at Omega’s barrier, which he was now able to penetrate thanks to the destruction of the reactors, and he somehow penetrated into Omega’s being, where the next stage of the Chapter began inside Omega itself.

doc-2017-07-04-16h48m13s936This brief section of the game was a rail shooter, and while my anti-“change of genre at the last minute” complaints from KH2 still stand, it was less than a minute and was frankly kind of brainless, so at least we didn’t have to dwell on it. So long as you occasionally draw your gun and fire vaguely in the direction of the pods that serve as Omega’s immune system, you’ll be fine. While this is happening, the song “Longing” by Gackt is playing in the background, lyrics and all. I mentioned I would explain Gackt’s presence in Crisis Core once we got to DoC. Well here we are: Gackt’s history with Final Fantasy might go back as far as FFVIII, as he claims Squall Leonhart is based on him. That doesn’t seem so likely since Tetsuya Nomura later claimed that he designed Squall to resemble the late River Phoenix, but for a few years, Gackt’s claim was held as fact, and he was inspired to do some cross-promotion with the series. Gackt went on to be the performer for two of the songs on DoC’s soundtrack, including this song and also its main theme. Somewhere in this process, the developers were inspired to base Genesis on Gackt himself, and so Gackt was hired to not only do the two songs for DoC, but to serve as Genesis’ model, and to do Genesis’ Japanese voice!

After a while, the brief auto-scroll sequence ends and Vincent lands in an arena to fight off a few more white blood pods, after which we proceed to another room where Vincent has to climb a pillar. This section reminds me a little uncomfortably of a similar segment from the maligned Xen stages of Half-Life 1, but it’s swiftly over. Vincent then curiously emerges… outside of Omega Weapon, not far from where he started, implying this entire sequence was a waste of time. A magical light bridge appears (look, I type what I see, all right?), and Vincent uses it to fight of yet more of this game’s now-boring pod enemies. A little more enemy variety in these final stages might have been appreciated, but I guess I understand. You can only spend so much money on an ending most players will never see, after all. After this brief battle, a portal appears on Omega Weapon’s brow and Vincent enters, ending the half-stage. The player gets one last bound of EXP and one last chance to shop before the big finale, and one last ranking before the finale. We got an S, and even went regular bullet shopping… just in case.


doc-2017-07-04-16h50m23s199Chapter 12-2: A Finale Chaotic

Inside the new dimension, Vincent finds himself walking ankle-deep in an infinite expanse what appears to be infinitely deep water. He spots a spherical object below the water, with a section of its topside that vaguely resembles a twisted human being. After seeing this, six pillars rise out of the water, each bearing a Crystal, and numerous pods begin to spawn and attack you. The objective here is to attack the “Crystal Feelers” when they are open and glowing for whatever unknown reason. Only one is open at any given time. While this is going on, you get a rare chance to resupply the Death Penalty with ammo from the infinite pods flying into to take a shot at you.

The Crystal Feelers have quite a bit of health and only open when you’re far away from them, at least until there are only a few left and the game has no choice but to open nearby feelers. The design of this segment makes it so that you’re likely to destroy one, then destroy another on the opposite end, and so on, meaning there always will be a feeler on the near-opposite side of the arena. I actually got frustrated trying to kill my first feeler and ended up meleeing it to death. Thankfully, they fall quickly enough and the next part of the battle begins, with the sphere rising. The humanoid shape on the sphere is now clearly supposed to be Weiss.

doc-2017-07-04-16h50m43s095This second phase of the battle is basically harmless, as you shoot the “Omega Cocoon” while trying to avoid laser fire from even more pods. I suspect it only really exists to give you one last bit of breathing room in which to resupply the Death Penalty. After it’s over, the cocoon explodes but reveals its contents. Hell, has any video game cocoon (not tied to minor enemies) actually died and taken its occupant with it?

A cutscene begins wherein Omega approaches Chaos in the form of Weiss, and the two of them get off a few attacks that appear to hit one another, but to no apparent effect. These past two chapters have all been fairly nice compared to the rest of the game, but I can’t deny that, as nice as this duel is, this is all show and no content. Could we please proceed to the next phase of the final boss and end this shoddy game?

doc-2017-07-04-16h51m12s094The final phase of the boss is a smaller version of Omega Weapon that’s slightly more mechanical than the one towering over Midgar, which absorbs Weiss into its makeup. This multi-part design of this boss seems to have been really popular at Square for the mid-2000s, as I’m pretty sure I’ve seen similar designs for FFXI and XII enemies while trawling the wiki for unrelated information.

Unfortunately, while the Death Penalty was nice at first, during the fight against Omega Weiss, it became a little boring. It has a wide spread, has a low magazine capacity, and all-in-all doesn’t require much strategy, thought, aim, or the need to change weapons for that matter. While Omega Weiss can move pillars up and down the battlefield, there’s a long stretch in the middle of our recording where I basically stand still and fire on him without moving at all, and that says a lot of bad things about the product. Omega Weiss briefly got the upper hand over me when he flew away from the battlefield and launched a wide-ranged attack that I couldn’t seem to dodge and did in the neighbourhood of 1000 points of damage, costing me a Phoenix Down out of sheer surprise, but that was about the only effective attack in the entire final battle. The fight was soon over, and I barely felt engaged!

After the battle, I was disappointed to find that that was the end of the game! The game proclaimed it was time for “Cumulative Results.” I’ll try to attach a screenshot of this for posterity’s sake (below), but in case the image doesn’t load, our final rank for the game was an A.

doc-2017-07-04-16h51m31s601The game began its closing cinematics, first showing that the real-world version of Omega Weapon had petrified and then, suddenly, its wings exploded to life in the form of Lifestream. Reeve explained what was going on: despite Vincent’s best efforts, Omega was going to go to the stars anyways. Now that’s hardly… good… but hold on, I’ve got to clarify something. Omega doesn’t kill anybody, right? Chaos is supposed to kill people, and Omega just cleans up when he’s done. Omega leaving the planet at this point would simply mean that he’d take part of the Lifestream with him, and the Lifestream that’s already in the form of living beings should rightly stay behind on the planet. I’m not sure what impact that would have on the Planet’s spiritual cycle or anything, and don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s not pleasant and would surely cause a sort of ecological collapse, but certainly life would go on and the Lifestream would simply continue in some kind of reduced capacity, wouldn’t it? Even if I’m wrong about that, the game seems to be acting like everyone is going to die as a result of Omega flying off, and that’s simply in defiance of the game’s own confused narrative!

Vincent flies ahead of Omega and decides to follow Cloud’s lead from Advent Children when he fought Bahamut SIN: if I fly through it, it’ll probably dissolve harmlessly, right? That’s what he does, and special effects aside, apparently he was right! The FFVII world is apparently nothing if not consistent, except the majority of times when it’s not. Omega exploded with such force that the clouds are blown away for miles, which is a nice touch, even if it’s bound to create some really fucked up weather. Lifestream then rained down over Midgar, and Vincent’s fate was left unknown for the duration of the credits, as Gackt sings the game’s main theme “Redemption.”

I suppose this is a good a time as every to talk about the game as a whole.

I don’t like it.

doc-2017-07-04-16h53m15s101Dirge of Cerberus an incredibly confused, disorganized affair that was honestly doomed to failure from the outset but only got worse from there. The idea of humanizing Lucrecia entirely in flashback despite barely ever showing her and Vincent interacting, turning Hojo the cackling crow into a “serious” villain, and unbelievable conceits like Deepground and its backstory and scope simply tear the product apart. Throw in the game’s transparent attempts to be edgy and the way it keeps forgetting plot elements, like Shelke needing mako to survive or Chaos being a reaper, and The Compilation of FFVII ends on a rotten note. I’ve heard that DoC was supposed to be the first of several spinoff games starring FFVII party members. That might have been nice. I think I could have standed to play a Barret, Tifa, Red XIII, or Yuffie game (though Yuffie’s prominent appearance in this game suggests she wasn’t going to be on the docket, and same with Reeve), but DoC basically doomed the entire project. This was an era of similar failures to create franchises based on individual characters, like the Mortal Kombat spinoff games, so I’m surprised Square Enix even tried.

Despite everything, I do see myself replaying DoC someday, but not for its own merits. It’s more because I can see myself replaying Crisis Core, FFVII and Advent Children someday, and it would feel silly to skip out on the final, shortest game in the story after playing and watching the rest.

doc-2017-07-04-16h52m13s047For the record, my thoughts on the Compilation games as a collection. My rankings of the narrative from best to worst: #1 is Crisis Core, #2 is Advent Children (not as strong as FFVII, but also not nearly as flawed), #3 is FFVII itself, and #12 is DoC. My rankings on the gameplay from best to worst: FFVII, Crisis Core, DoC.

The final shot after the credits is of the wreck of the Shera among the ruins of Midgar, where we see Shalua’s pod has broken in the impact open. Her ultimate fate is left unclear. Congratulations, Dr. Rui, on your promotion to Shinra executive.

A week later, we see the ruins of Midgar at peace and Shelke hanging out at Seventh Heaven, drinking coffee. Apparently, Cloud and the others are out looking for Vincent, but if he hasn’t simply died in the process of destroying Omega Weapon, it seems he doesn’t want to be found. But Shelke knows where Vincent would have gone if he survived at all: he would have gone to see Lucrecia, and she sends him an email saying she’s going to keep on “trying” while he’s away.

Cut to Lucrecia’s cave at the end of that flash forward we’ve been visiting on and off throughout the game, and Vincent tells Lucrecia that everything is finally finished. He thanks her, and turns to leave the chamber, not seeing Lucrecia’s body cry a single tear.

doc-2017-07-04-16h52m50s262Outside, Vincent finds Shelke waiting for him, wearing plainclothes that… I’ll be honest, look terrible on her. Sorry lady, I’m used to seeing you in what passes as a military uniform in this universe. Shelke quotes Lucrecia, as she was doing earlier, raising the creepy implications of her and Vincent having some kind of romantic relationship (in disturbing substitute-and-extension to the one with Lucrecia!), which I remind you that Square Enix all but hand-crafted to be creepy by designing Shelke around highly dubious porn clichés.

And as much as I’d like my final words on the original Compilation of FFVII to be “highly dubious porn clichés,” I’m afraid we have a secret ending to tend to. We pan down to a cave deep below Midgar, where Weiss’ body has fallen after the final battle. Suddenly, there is a massive display of energy and magic, and who should appear but our old buddy, Genesis Rhapsodos, about as late to the party as he could possibly be. Where was Genesis during the events of DoC, and for that matter FFVII? We were told he was “sleeping,” but as for why he wasn’t working with Deepground, we can only assume from his absence that he refused to work with Deepground after being kidnapped and having his cells used to create the Tsviets. No official explanation has gone any further than that.

doc-2017-07-04-16h54m07s806In the English version, despite this a bit part at best, Genesis’ was assigned to an all new actor, Robin Atkin Downes, who had worked with Square in the past as Luxord in Kingdom Hearts 2. He would go on to provide the voice for Delita, one of the central characters of Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.

Genesis walks atop the water separating him from Weiss’ body, and picks him up, looking up at the sky above. He says: “It is not yet time for slumber. We still have much work to do… my brother.” He then extends his wing and takes to the sky.

doc-2017-07-04-16h54m36s357That was where the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII came to an end. There was never any resolution to the Genesis and Weiss plotline. According to the Japanese-only Crisis Core Complete Guide, Genesis returned to protect the planet, not to haunt it. This seems like a retroactive, last-minute save to me, made after they realized no further FFVII games were coming after Crisis Core. Still, it’s a pretty solid excuse even if it is just an excuse, and learning it made me feel a little better, since it leaves the world and its story at an end. For that matter, Weiss and Nero deserve a break, even if I’m a little more up in the air about Genesis deserving one. In any event, it’s a far more decisive ending than you’d expect considering it’s about one handsome man carrying off an unconscious, half-naked man into the moonlight, and other highly dubious porn clichés.

Prev: FFVII Dirge of Cerberus – The True Villain, All Along! ALL Along

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2 comments

    1. Sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately, things haven’t quite improved yet. I have written here or there for Final Fantasy (nothing for KH), but not enough to go online with them yet. Sorry for the bad news!

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