– Escape From Midgar –
We rejoin the group some time later. Everyone has been thrown into the prison cells inside Shinra Headquarters. Cloud and Tifa together in the middle, with Barret and Red to the right, and Aerith alone to the left. I guess we can take some comfort in knowing where she is at least. Plus we haven’t given up hope yet. There has to be something we can do to get out of this situation.
While we think of a plan, we check in with everyone to make sure they’re ok, starting with Aerith. She seems to be unharmed, and even though the rescue didn’t go as planned, she’s happy that we came for her.
In fact, she’s in such a good mood, she is able to bring up their original agreement. If Cloud keeps her safe, she would go on one date with him. Unfortunately, Tifa is in the cell with Cloud, and while she might not actually be Cloud’s girlfriend, she can’t just let a comment like that slide by.
Sadly, there isn’t much Cloud can do at this point, seeing as he’s kind of locked in a jail cell with Tifa and all. Best to just stay quiet and hope not to die.
Thankfully, Tifa has a rather level head on her, and quickly changes the subject. She wants to know from Aerith if the Promise Land really exists or not. But Aerith doesn’t have a clear answer for her. She knows the Cetra are deeply connected to the planet, and will eventually return to the Promised Land. What that means exactly isn’t something she can easily put into words.
Cloud tries to dig deeper, asking what it is the planet is saying. But again, Aerith doesn’t have a clear answer. There are a lot of people and it’s noisy, so it’s hard to really figure out what anyone is trying to tell her.
Plus, she could only ever hear the voices when she was in the church back in the slums. Apparently, her real mother had warned her that Midgar wasn’t safe for them anymore. Before her death, she had planned to get them out of Midgar so they could find the Promise Land for themselves. Since then, her mother’s voice has been one of the only ones she could make out in the noise.
After this, Aerith goes silent, and we don’t feel we should press her any further. Instead we turn our attention to Barret and Red XIII to make sure they’re safe as well. Apparently Barret is still trying to wrap his head around everything that President Shinra told them about the ancients, and the Promised Land.
While the finer details may be lost on him, he does understand one thing. If Shinra manages to find the Promised Land, they’re just going to suck it dry and kill the planet. And that is something Barret simply can’t allow them to do. Even after everything that has happened, Barret still plans to fight Shinra to the end, and proclaims he is recruiting new members to avalanche. With Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Red, and Himself, they will make up the new AVALANCHE team!
Red XIII on the other hand has very little of anything to say to us. I think he might be trying to sleep. He just quietly says “Grandpa” to which Barret starts laughing at him. Poor Red, having to be stuck in a room with Barret…
So everyone seems to be present and accounted for, and no one seems to be seriously injured. That’s good at least. But we’re no closer to finding a way out of our cell. It’s been a long day, so we decide to get some rest while we can. Surely we’ll still be in these cells in the morning.
However, something odd happened while everyone was asleep. Upon awaking, Cloud notices that his cell door is mysteriously open. On top of that, it looks like someone has gone and killed the guards as well.
Not knowing what else to do, Cloud wakes Tifa and tells her what happened. Neither can make sense of what’s happening, but that doesn’t mean they need to wait around to find out. They quickly search the guard for the cell keys and get to work setting everyone else free.
Cloud heads down to Barret and Red XIII’s cell while Tifa frees Aerith. Everyone is confused by what they see, but Red XIII takes a much more active approach to the situation. After claiming no human could have done this, he runs off ahead to scout the area. Barret on the other hand feels the need to stay behind and clean up the mess. I’m not sure why. If anyone would be uncaring that a Shinra Guard was killed, I would expect it to be Barret.
It doesn’t take us long before we find more bodies littering the floor. To make matters worse, it looks like the Jenova specimen has escaped and has started heading up the building. Going against our better judgement, we start to follow the blood trail it left behind.
We follow the blood trail all the way to the top floor where we find the dead body of the Shinra President. His remains still sitting in his chair, impaled by a massive sword belonging to none other than Sephiroth himself.
While the President’s death might be beneficial to our cause, the appearance of Sephiroth’s sword may prove problematic. If nothing else, this implies that Sephiroth isn’t dead like we had been lead to believe.
Moments later, Palmer comes out of his hiding place behind one of the pillars and tries to run past us, begging for his life. Once restrained, he confirms that he saw Sephiroth with his own eyes, and that it was Sephiroth himself that killed the President, all while proclaiming he would not allow Shinra to have the Promised Land.
On the surface, that all sounds great for us. Sephiroth is fighting against Shinra to save the Promised Land. He’s a good guy, and we’re basically on the same side. Cloud however is less optimistic. He actually knows Sephiroth, and Sephiroth’s plans are never that simplistic. He’s after something more.
We may have been able to get more information out of Palmer, but the group became distracted by the appearance of a Shinra Helicopter. Barret somehow recognizes it as belonging to Rufus, the President’s son and Vice President of Shinra.
Everyone rushes outside in an attempt to intercept Rufus before he gets away. Lucky for us, Rufus is in no hurry. Now that his father is dead, he is taking on the position of President, and he is eager to give his first speech to anyone that will listen.
Like his father, Rufus begins monologuing to our heroes, talking about how Shinra had always bought the people’s love. Work for Shinra, get paid well, and if anything bad happens, Shinra will make it better. On paper it worked perfectly.
Rufus, however, has other plans. The old way is too slow and expensive. Instead, Rufus plans to control the masses through fear. A rather Machiavellian approach I must say.
Hearing this, Cloud orders everyone to leave. They need to get Aerith out of the building as soon as possible. Once inside, the group starts heading for the elevators, all except for Tifa. She has decided to wait behind to make sure Cloud gets out as well.
Before splitting up, Tifa suggests we check our equipment to make sure we’re ready. A suggestion I foolishly ignored. I had expected a short run to the elevators without much interference. Unfortunately, there was a Hundred Gunner riding down the adjacent elevator that opened fire on us as soon as we stepped foot inside. Now we’ll have to fight this thing the whole ride down. Unfortunately, it is too far away to directly attack, so Aerith and Red XIII are incapable of landing any physical attacks. Magic will still reach it, but unfortunately, Aerith is the only one with any Materia equipped right now. That leaves Barret stuck with just basic physical attacks, Aerith can cast magic, but needs to conserve MP for healing, and Red is virtually useless at the moment.
We might be entering this battle with a severe handicap, but hundred gunner is not. It is capable of attacking the whole party at once with its main artillery fire. After a brief charging period, it can also launch a massive Wave Artillery attack against us. Thankfully, it only has 1600 hp, so the fight doesn’t last very long.
But we’re fools if we think it would be that easy. As soon as Hundred Gunner is defeated, it is quickly replaced by Heli Gunner. This new enemy might not be as strong as Hundred Gunner was, but it still packs quite the punch. In addition to being able to attack the whole party, Heli Gunner’s Firing Line attack has the ability to simultaneously cast Poison and Sleep on anyone it hits. We already came into this poorly equipped, but we are also poorly stocked on healing items as well.
It is quite the effort to keep everyone alive during this battle, especially considering everyone keeps falling asleep. Thankfully, the constant attacks do have the benefit of activating everyone’s limit breaks. Aerith’s Healing Wind manages to keep the party alive while Barret’s Big Shot and Red XIII’s Sled Fang do significant damage to the Heli Gunner.
There were some close calls, Aerith even fell to single digit health at one point, but somehow everyone managed to survive the battle. There also was no third form to that boss, and the party was able to make their way down to the ground floor in relative safety.
Meanwhile, Cloud is still on the roof with President Rufus. It seems as if Rufus tries to talk his way out of the situation by throwing out there that Sephiroth is also one of the ancients. But Cloud doesn’t care. He’s not going to let anyone get the Promised Land.
With that, Cloud jumps into battle with Rufus and Dark Nation, Rufus’s… pet? I guess? I would say that thing is a weird pet, but Rufus did start the battle with maniacal laughter… so I guess it fits him. Whatever that thing is, we’re going to want to take it out first. That’s because it is capable of casting Barrier and MBarrier on both of them which will increase their defense again physical and magical attacks respectively.
Thankfully, neither of them are particularly strong, even with the Barriers up. Rufus only has 500 hp and Dark Nation has a tiny 150 hp. One good Cross Slash from Cloud and Dark Nation is taken out of the battle. Now we only have Rufus to deal with, but our attacks aren’t doing a whole lot because of the Barrier. However, his shotgun attack isn’t doing very much damage to Cloud Either.
Once Rufus’s health is eventually depleted, he flees the battle rather than dying. The company helicopter just swoops in and he grabs ahold of one of the legs as it flies away. So It looks like we have a new villain to watch out for now.
Having lost his opportunity to stop Rufus, Cloud heads back inside and towards the elevators to rendezvous with the rest of the party. Tifa is waiting behind like she promised, and together they make their way down to the first floor.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team is having trouble down on the ground floor as well. It looks as if Shinra guards have the whole building surrounded. We have no way out now.
Once again, Aerith tries to play the sacrifice, telling everyone else to get out since she’s the one they’re after. But Barret isn’t having any of it. Aerith already turned herself in once for the sake of Marlene, he’s not going to let her get captured again to save him as well.
The group starts arguing amongst themselves about what to do next. So it’s a good thing Tifa showed up when she did. Barret questions where Cloud is, but there’s no time to explain. They just need to follow her.
While everyone follows Tifa, Cloud comes rolling down the stairs on a motorcycle that was on display. Likewise, everyone else seems to have settled on a pickup truck, with the girls up front and the guys in the truck bed.
From here, they both drive their vehicles up the stairs to what I believe would be the 3rd floor. Revving up the motorcycle to full speed, Cloud smashes through the window and jumps onto the nearby highway, with the pickup truck trailing right behind him.
Thus begins one of the more memorable minigames in the game. As the party speeds down the highway, Shinra Soldiers on motorcycles begin to chase them. It’s up to Cloud to keep the truck safe by slashing the tires of the Shinra motorcycles. In general, this is an easy minigame. But the speed of the bikes mixed with the shifting camera angles can make it a bit tricky.
After taking out a handful of Shinra Soldier, they bring out the big guns when a massive armored tank starts chasing the party. To make matters worse, the road suddenly ends and we have nowhere left to run to.
As the battle begins, the whole party is attacked from behind as the tank, apparently called Motor Ball, comes to a crashing stop. Since it was a back attack, we also need to waste a turn rearranging the party, otherwise Aerith is going to be taking more damage than she can handle, while Cloud and Tifa struggle to attack from the back row. All the while they’re being slashed up by Motor Ball’s Arm Attacks.
Once we finally get settled into our battle stance, we do a quick scan to see what we’re up against. With 2600 hp, I believe this is the strongest boss we’ve had to fight so far. However, the scan also reveals it has a weakness to lightning. Thankfully we equipped Tifa with lightning Materia earlier, and it does do some impressive damage.
However, Motor Ball can deal some significant damage itself. The arm attacks it was doing earlier aren’t much of a threat, but the Twin Burner attack is basically a double flamethrower to the whole party. Or worse, the Rolling Rife attack is three flamethrowers AND is drives over the whole party doing just shy of 200 damage to every party member! Considering Aerith only has 374 max hp right now, we’re going to have to keep her nearly at full health for the whole battle, or she’s not going to make it.
On the plus side, those powerful attacks also boost everyone’s limit bar at an impressive speed. Thanks to this, Tifa and Cloud both managed to inflict some good damage on Motor Ball with their Limit Breaks, while Aerith healed everyone with her Healing Wind.
A few more good hits and Motor Ball is defeated. But that doesn’t solve all our problems. We’re still at the end of the road with no clear plan of what to do next.
One thing is clear though, Sephiroth is still out there somewhere, and finding him is a good enough goal for now. One by one, everyone agrees to join Cloud outside of Midgar for their own reasons. Mostly because there really isn’t anything left here for them. Tifa’s bar was destroyed along with the rest of Sector 7. Barret’s daughter Marlene left Midgar with Aerith’s adoptive mother. Aerith herself has questions about the ancients she hopes to find out. And Red XIII… Well Red just doesn’t have anything better to do…
Using one of the crane cables, we all manage to climb down to the ground below, just outside the city limits. That must have been an impressive feat for Red XIII, considering he has no real way of grabbing onto the cable… Anyway, everyone gathers their thoughts about leaving Midgar behind.
Now that we’re free, we need a group leader. Naturally, Barret nominates himself for the position. Aerith, however, is quick to suggest Cloud would be better suited for the job.
Though a little disappointed, Barret accepts Cloud as the leader, and suggests we head northwest to the town of Kalm. He also suggests that they should slit up into 2 groups anyway. A group of 5 traveling together would be too easy to spot. Just like before, Cloud will be joined by Tifa and Aerith… so we know they’re safe… That leaves Barret and Red XIII to find their own way to Kalm.
At long last, we have made it to the world map. Taking a quick look at the mini map in the corner, we can see right away that there are a lot of places we will eventually visit. Midgar was just a small part of this bigger world. That being said, where was that unfinished road being built out to? There are no other big cities to connect to for as far as the eye can see…