Final Fantasy VII owned by Square Enix.
Images used for educational purposes only.

Sector 7 Slums

- After the cut scenes are all done you’ll wind up at the train yard of Sector 7. If you head right from the platform you can reach the Abandoned Train Yard, which will be a minor dungeon a bit later in the game. For now you can only explore a small section of the platform, fighting off the same enemies you encountered in the No. 1 Reactor.

- Head west one screen. There’s a save point to the north, and speaking to the dude who looks like he needs to pee will get you a look at the huge pillar that holds the upper half of Midgar aloft.

- There’s a section of the Slums to the west. The smaller house in the south is currently closed, but you can enter the larger building. It’s better to explore this place after a string of cut scenes which you can trigger by entering the bar Barret is guarding. While here you’ll meet another party member, default name Tifa, and if you bought a flower from the flower girl you can either give it to Tifa or Marlene. Both will have effects later. You can also speak to Tifa after the AVALANCHE team goes below ground for some additional dialogue. Eventually you’ll wind up with 1,500 gil and another gig with AVALANCHE, and when you speak to Barret the next day you can learn how to use the materia system. First-time players should take Cloud’s advice to heart. Make sure you equip the Restore materia you found in the No. 1 Reactor.

- Once all is said and done you can more thoroughly explore the Slums. The northern house is fairly useless, but the house in the south sells a few minor items and materia you already own. It’s not a terrible idea to invest in more for your team members besides Cloud, though their combat stats will suffer a little as a result. The difference is negligible enough that you shouldn’t worry a whole lot.

- The large building that’s also in the south is a bit more important. The guy on the bottom floor sells weapons, and it’s a good idea to buy Iron Bangles for your three team members. Buy at least a Grenade and you can go upstairs to the second floor. Up here is a school of sorts where Cloud will teach you the basics of Final Fantasy VII. Check the guy in red by the entrance for an All materia, which allows you to cast magic on all targets rather than one when paired with other materia, and an Ether. If you climb to the third floor you’ll find an inn where you can sleep for 10 gil. Not necessary right now, and the chances are pretty good you’ll never stay here.

- Head for the train yard. Things will go wrong, and you’ll have to escape. If you take too long getting through the train cars you’ll be forced off of the train far from the jump point. Sounds bad, but you can find things in the cars if you take more time:
  • In the first car you’ll find a Phoenix Down by speaking to the man at the rear of the car.
  • The person in the extreme foreground at the far end of the car, near the exit, will give you a Hi-Potion.
  • The dude walking past you in the third car will steal from you. If you chase him down you can get your stuff back.
  • There’s nothing in the fourth car, but getting this far will land you right by the original drop point.

- You’ll wind up in the Winding Tunnel regardless of where you hop off. If you decide to backtrack through the tunnels, or if you were forced off the train, you’ll have to face random battles. You can easily destroy these enemies with an All-paired spell. If you head too far south you’ll hit a screen that’s perpetually guarded, making it a decent (but eventually kinda pointless) spot for grinding levels.

- Eventually you’ll wind up at a security gate. Climb down into the duct beside it to enter the grounds of the Reactor.

No. 5 Reactor

- After entering the ducts you’ll find an Ether. Eventually you’ll reach a wide open area. There’s nothing to see here, so head west, following Wedge. The ladder near him leads to an upper corridor where Jessie is waiting. Check the wall to the left of her for a Potion. (The vent beside her leads back to the previous area. Don’t bother.) Head west and down another ladder to find Biggs, and to his right a Tent and a save point where you can use that Tent, if you so need. Climb the ladder next to him…

- … and you’ve entered the Reactor. Huzzah! This area is identical to the previous Reactor in most respects, so you’ll know how to reach the actual reactor. Descend into the depths, use the save point if you feel like it, and head for the reactor. The enemies down here aren’t too bad, but magic may be in order to save some time. Set a bomb and make your way out.

- After an elevator ride you’ll emerge in a somewhat familiar corridor. Look to your left for a box containing an Ether, then enter the room near the box. There’s a minor button-pushing game here. Time your button push with Tifa and Barret to open the door leading out of the Reactor. Use the save point here, as there’s a boss ahead.

Air Buster

Your second boss battle, and a fairly easy one at that. Air Buster hits fairly hard, but you have the extreme advantage of catching the machine in a pincer attack. Back attacks will inflict significantly more damage to Air Buster than frontal attacks, though they incur a minor counterattack. Anyone in front should use magic on Air Buster; anyone in back should stick to physical. Limit Breaks are pretty common in this fight, and using one on Air Buster’s rear will inflict sooooo much damage. You’ll get a Titan Bangle for beating Air Buster…

- … though Cloud will also get knocked away from the party. Oh dear.