|Final Fantasy VII owned by Square Enix.|
Images used for educational purposes only
For whatever reason, AVALANCHE has decided to railroad Shinra’s attempts to destroy Meteor. Sounds like idiocy to me, but, hey, that’s the way it goes. Your job now is to lead Cid on a pair of raids against Shinra’s attempts to collect Huge Materia. It’s possible to lose these missions without sacrificing the story, though I very much recommend not failing. You’ll see why eventually.
Might as well get the easier of the two operations out of the way first. Fort Condor boasts another RTS-style mini game at this point, and it’s the last one you can ever play. You can play this the way you’re meant to play it… or, if you want to save money and time, which I recommend, you can just let Shinra’s monsters stomp up the field, then kill their commander. You’ll get an Imperial Guard for defeating the CMD Grand Horn, a fairly easy fight, and when you look outside you’ll find Phoenix materia. Go back inside and speak to the old man on the main floor of Fort Condor for Huge Materia.
(While you’re here, check the materia shop. Now that you’re on the second disc they have better materia for sale.)
(For obvious reasons, Barret will change how this small scenario concludes if he’s in the party.)
- Head to North Corel and make your way to the Mako reactor on Mt. Corel. Save on the tracks before arriving, as you’ll be forced to try and board a train immediately after taking out a few weak Shinra soldiers. You have ten minutes to catch up to the train, climb along the cars, and stop it from crashing through North Corel.
- Your first step is to navigate up to the train carrying the Huge Materia. This part is nice and easy - just alternate between the triangle button and the up button, quickly but steadily. You can catch up to the enemy train in less than twenty seconds if you’re swift and accurate.
- Next up, you need to hop from train car to train car, defeating enemies along the way. You’ll be facing five battles to reach the train’s engine. Here are some tips for taking each out:
- Attack Squads are standard Shinra soldiers. The worst they’ll do is put you to sleep, which is more annoying than outright destructive. Normal attacks or magic will suffice.
- Gas Ducters are pretty easy, though they may inflict some annoying status ailments such as silence or sleep. Take them out with a strong Enemy Skill such as Beta or Aqualung.
- Wolfmeisters are heavily-armoured foes that hit quite hard. Your physical attacks won’t do that well, so rely on Limits or powerful third-tier magic to chip through their defences.
- Eagle Guns can hit everyone reasonably hard, but they have a substantial weakness to lightning. Hit ‘em with Bolt 3, Trine, or someone with an Elemental-Lightning materia.
- Get past the five cars, as well as one Attack Squad at the engine, and Cid will take control of the train. You now need to slow the thing down. Easy enough; you just need to alternate between pressing up / triangle simultaneously and down / x simultaneously. It takes a few tries to get the timing right, but once you figure out the groove you can stop the train in fairly short order, despite what Cid (and your party) has to say about it.
- Now for the results. If you successfully stop the train you’ll save North Corel, gain the Huge Materia, and receive a free Ultima materia. If you fail to stop the train a big section of North Corel will be destroyed and you’ll lose the Huge Materia, and you’ll have to purchase the Ultima materia for 50,000 gil. Ouch. If you fail to even reach the train, which is damn near impossible unless you actively sabotage yourself, North Corel will be destroyed. Nothing more to be said.
- Regardless of the outcome, speak to a woman in the left-most house of North Corel and she’ll give you the Catastrophe. This is Barret’s fourth level Limit Break.
- After completing these two side missions, heal up your party, save, and pay a visit to Mideel. Something very bad will happen once you visit the doctor’s office, and you’ll get into one crazy battle…
Yikes. Ultimate Weapon is capable of some insane magic attacks, either hitting everyone or a single target at a time, and its attacks will likely kill you in two hits, if not one. Throw up Barriers and MBarriers (Big Guard is helpful, if you have it) and heal through this fight until Ultimate Weapon gets bored and leaves. It won’t take too long. If you’re quick you can Steal a Curse Ring from this thing. (Don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to wipe it out later in the game.)
What follows is a long, weird section wherein you’re trapped in someone’s subconscious. Final Fantasy VII’s big plot twist is found in this section, and I’ll let you discover the details of the twist for yourselves. Once it’s done, Cloud will return to the party as party leader, and Tifa will pop back in as well.
All done? Not quite. Return to Mideel and, despite the town’s destruction, you’ll discover that people are still in attendance. The stores are all gone, but if you speak to the rabid shopping woman she will sell off her stock… and she’s apparently got a lot of stock. You can also give her tiny chocobo companion Mimett Greens and scratch behind its ears to receive a Contain materia. You can purchase Mimett Greens at the Chocobo Ranch for 1,500 gil, and while you’re visiting the Ranch, look by the pen out front for a Chocobo Lure.