The game's setting follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy VI by presenting a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction. The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to in the game as "The Planet", but retroactively named "Gaia", is composed of three main land masses. The eastern continent features the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the capital city of the world as it hosts headquarters of the Shinra, who operate as the de facto world government. Other locations on the continent are Junon, Shinra's major military base; Fort Condor, a fort with a huge condor covering up a Mako reactor on top of it; a chocobo ranch; and Kalm, a small town inspired by medieval Europe.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The western continent features most of the accessible areas, which include the Gold Saucer, an amusement park with Corel Prison below; Costa Del Sol, a seaside resort; Nibelheim, a town residing at the base of Mt. Nibel; Rocket Town, the location of Shinra's failed rocket launch; and a settlement called Cosmo Canyon. Wutai, a village inspired by pre-modern Japan and China, is located on a large island off the western continent. The tribe inhabiting Cosmo Canyon emphasize living in harmony with nature and dedicating causes to the planet's well-being. Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as the "Study of Planet Life", a lifestyle that encourages deference for nature and teaches that the planet has a life of its own. The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated landmass, and its few settlements include an excavation site; a ski resort; the mythical "City of the Ancients"; and the Northern Crater, where the game's climax takes place. There are also underwater locations accessible via submarine, such as a sunken plane transporter.
Final Fantasy VII begins with Cloud joining AVALANCHE in a series of raids against the Mako reactors surrounding the city of Midgar. Although the first mission is successful, AVALANCHE is trapped at another reactor during a subsequent raid. The reactor explodes, launching Cloud from the upper levels of Midgar into the slums below. He lands on a flower bed, where he is formally introduced to Aeris. Prompted by the arrival of Shinra's Turks operatives sent to capture Aeris, Cloud agrees to be Aeris' bodyguard and defends her from the Turks. After the Shinra discover the location of AVALANCHE's hideout, they destroy it by demolishing the entirety of Sector 7, killing its population and three members of AVALANCHE. The Turks also capture Aeris, who is revealed to be the last surviving "Cetra", a race closely attuned with the planet and previously thought extinct. President Shinra believes Aeris can lead him to the "Promised Land", a mythical land of fertility, where he expects to find Mako energy
Influenced by Sephiroth, Cloud becomes suspicious of his memories and insists he is not a real human, but instead a specimen created from Jenova's genetic material by Professor Hojo. Jenova was an interstellar creature who crash landed on the planet roughly 2,000 years prior to the game's events. Jenova had intended to infect all living organisms on the planet with a virus inducing insanity and monstrous transformations; among its victims were most of the Cetra. Attempting to defend itself, the planet created giant monsters called "WEAPONs". The majority of humans fled rather than fight Jenova; however, a small group of Cetra survivors managed to defeat and confine Jenova. Eventually, the remains of Jenova were unearthed by Professor Gast, a researcher for the Shinra Company. Mistaking the creature for a Cetra, Gast was given authorization to conduct an experiment to artificially produce a Cetra by combining cells from Jenova with the fetus of an unborn child. Sephiroth learned that he was the product of this experiment while on a Shinra mission in Cloud and Tifa's hometown, Nibelheim. He concluded that he was a Cetra who had been produced solely from Jenova's genetic material. He burned down Nibelheim, intending to kill all descendants of those he believed had abandoned his ancestors in the defense of the planet. Cloud confronted Sephiroth during this massacre, after which Sephiroth vanished under unknown circumstances and was presumed dead until his reappearance in the Shinra building. When AVALANCHE travels to the Northern Crater to confront Sephiroth, he tells Cloud that he was not in Nibelheim, showing him images of a SOLDIER with dark hair who occupies Cloud's place in his memories. Tifa is unable to refute Sephiroth's claims, and Sephiroth casts the Meteor spell, causing the planet to awaken the WEAPONs in response. During the earthquake that follows, Cloud is separated from his companions and falls into the Lifestream.
The remaining members of AVALANCHE infiltrate Shinra corporate headquarters to rescue Aeris. After freeing her and Red XIII, they escape because most of the personnel in the building, including the president, are killed by Sephiroth, a man presumed to be dead, who stated that he would never allow Shinra to claim the Promised Land. The party also learns that during Sephiroth's attack on Shinra, the headless body of a creature named "Jenova" disappeared from the building's research facility. While the president's son, Rufus Shinra, assumes control of the company, AVALANCHE pursues Sephiroth across the planet, fearing his intentions for the Promised Land may be more destructive than Shinra's. The party is joined by Cait Sith and Cid Highwind, and optionally by Vincent and Yuffie. The full scope of Sephiroth's plan is eventually revealed: if the world is significantly damaged, the Lifestream will gather in an attempt to heal the wound. Sephiroth intends to use a powerful spell called "Meteor" to cause this injury, and then merge with the planet's energy, allowing him to be reborn as a god and rule over the planet. Aeris sets off to stop Sephiroth on her own. AVALANCHE follow her to the northern continent, where they enter an ancient Cetra city. After finding Aeris praying to the planet for aid, Sephiroth impales Aeris with his sword himself
Cloud and Zack were among the wounded survivors who were apprehended by Shinra as part of a cover-up of Sephiroth's massacre. Professor Hojo subjected these survivors to an experiment, performing the same enhancements given to SOLDIER members—a procedure which included Mako showers and the injection of Jenova cells. All but Zack entered a comatose state, and nearly five years later, Zack broke free from his confinement and took Cloud with him. However, the alien Jenova cells in Cloud's body still allowed Sephiroth to modulate his behavior. Moreover, the cells' ability to duplicate information allowed Cloud's mind to construct a false persona built around Zack's behavior. This was prompted by Zack himself, who was killed outside Midgar by Shinra soldiers during the escape; he urged Cloud to live both their lives before passing on. Afterward, Tifa discovered Cloud, who was wearing a SOLDIER 1st Class uniform, and offered him a job with AVALANCHE.