It’s safe to say that die-hard fans of Final Fantasy 7 were just a little bit excited when it was revealed in June that the cult classic prequel Crisis Core would be getting a very shiny and polished remaster. Crisis Core was first released back in 2008 on PSP and is widely regarded by fans to be one of – if not the best – entries in the compilation of Final Fantasy 7.
The plot of Crisis Core sets up the events of the original Final Fantasy 7 and follows Zack Fair on his dream to become a hero as he rises through the ranks of the Shinra military to become SOLDIER 1st Class. Along the way, Zack encounters series protagonist Cloud Strife with whom he forms a brotherly bond and takes under his wing.
Crisis Core tells Zack’s heroic and ultimately tragic story while also serving as an origin of sorts for Cloud and his arch-nemesis, Sephiroth. Throughout the game, Zack encounters familiar faces and fan-favourite characters like Tseng and Aerith, but Crisis Core adds two new characters that would become crucial to the lore of the series.
As seen in the trailer, Crisis Core throws two new SOLDIERs into the mix, but who are they and just why are they so important to the world of Final Fantasy 7?
Who is Angeal Hewley?
Angeal Hewley is a SOLDIER 1st Class and is considered to be amongst the strongest warriors in the Shinra military alongside Genesis and Sephiroth, he is also the original owner of the Buster Sword.
Angeal grew up poor in the village of Banora with his Mother and Stepfather and formed a close friendship with Genesis Rhapsodos, the wealthy son of his village’s landlord. Angeal and Genesis would both go on to join Shinra with Angeal receiving the newly crafted Buster Sword as a gift from his Stepfather.
Eventually, Angeal would rise to the rank of SOLDIER 1st Class but notably avoided using the Buster Sword over his career to protect his family’s pride and honour. As he famously says:
“Use brings about wear, tear and rust. And that’s a real waste.”
Angeal becomes an influential member of SOLDIER in his own right, gaining his own fanclub and becoming a major influence on Shinra Infantrymen and lower ranking members of SOLDIER. One of which of course is Zack.
Over the course of Crisis Core, Angeal largely serves as a mentor to Zack due to his unwavering sense of honour above all else and encourages him to pursue his dream. Angeal’s motivations and allegiances become murky when he learns of the unnatural experiments conducted by Shinra to create SOLDIERs placing him in conflict with his protege.
Zack’s confrontation with his former mentor is one that leaves a mark on him – literally and figuratively – and forces him to take the first steps in becoming the hero he was meant to be. Angeal’s story is largely self-contained to Crisis Core but his connection to the Buster Sword and his influence on Zack make him a notable character in the overarching lore of Final Fantasy 7.
Who is Genesis Rhapsados?
Genesis is, without question, the driving force of Crisis Core. However, this isn’t the first time the character has shown up. Genesis first appeared in the secret ending of the FF7 spin-off Dirge of Cerberus which starred the gothic gunslinger Vincent Valentine. After awakening from a three-year slumber Genesis – played by J-rock icon Gackt – flies off into the night ominously proclaiming that there is work to be done.
At the time the character was shrouded in mystery and was only ever intended to be a minor cameo. Crisis Core producer Hideki Imaizumi viewed this as a waste and saw Crisis Core as an opportunity to further establish Genesis as a character.
The plot of Crisis Core kicks off when Genesis goes missing after a mission, but it quickly becomes clear that everything is not what it seems and that the former SOLDIER has gone rogue. Throughout the game, Genesis acts as a foil to Zack and serves as Crisis Core’s main antagonist.
Genesis grew up in the village of Banora with Angeal and enrolled in Shinra alongside him quickly rising to the ranks of SOLDIER 1st Class. Angeal and Genesis would eventually become friends with Sephiroth but Genesis’ jealousy of Sephiroth’s heroic reputation would eventually form an intense rivalry between the two.
After sustaining an injury in battle, Genesis learns that he was an unwitting test subject in Project G – the source of his strength and prowess as a SOLDIER. Ultimately though there’s some side effects. Genesis gains the ability to copy himself onto others but with that comes the degradation of his cell’s plaguing him throughout the game.
Genesis desperately hunts for a cure to his degradation while attempting to act out events from the poem LOVELESS which is his mission in life to decipher.
Will Angeal and Genesis Return In Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth?
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake Trilogy has established that it’s making its own rules and telling the story it wants to tell. The most spoiler-free answer is that Final Fantasy 7: Remake proved that nothing is off the table.
Angeal’s story is largely over but with Zack set to return in Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth it’s possible we could see Angeal appear in flashbacks. Genesis, however, could be a different story entirely.
Genesis’ existence in the FF7 Remake Trilogy has already been alluded to with the Banora Apple Juice posters scattered around Midgar in the first instalment. The Intergrade DLC also reintroduced Genesis’ Brothers Nero and Weiss the Immaculate, the villains of Dirge of Cerberus. All of this could be leading to the rogue soldier making a comeback in a major way and as Genesis frequently promises: “Nothing shall forestall my return”.
Except, there is one thing.
As Genesis’ likeness is based on Gackt there are bound to be some legal issues that would arise from his inclusion in future games. Gackt retired last year after a neurological disorder left him unable to continue his music career. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to reprise the role.
This will likely leave Square Enix with the mighty task of redesigning Genesis and finding a new voice-over artist. The prospect of Genesis returning is tantalising, although it remains to be seen what capacity that will be in. With Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 Reunion and Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth releasing so close together it wouldn’t be surprising if Square have something cooked up.
If you never got the chance to play Crisis Core the first time around then it is absolutely worth picking up. It has an endearing and lovable protagonist, a compelling story, and an unforgettable cast of characters. It’s a great game and one that will break your heart one hundred times over. Get the tissues ready.
Crisis Core Final Fantasy 7 Reunion is coming to consoles and PC this winter.
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