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History of a Hero: Cloud Strife

He may be getting rather old now and not one to have seen the light of day in a while, but enough fans have screamed for Square to remake his game whether they screw with a classic or not. His creator may no longer be with the company, to move on to better things, but that doesn’t mean he is any less of a hero with his down time. Today we look at non-other than the steel swinging soldier – Cloud Strife.

Cloud was a character none were really expecting from the start. During the course of his debut title, Final Fantasy VII, Cloud seemed completely normal and not all that mysterious. And he himself probably thought the same. As an ex-fighter for the SOLDIER group, a mercenary army of genetically created beings, Cloud had escaped the organisation and revolted against it’s governing body corporation, Shinra as it attempts to use the planets “Life Energy” as a power source. Now part of the AVALANCE band of freedom fighters, essentially an environmentalist group, Cloud set out to stop the Shinra company in their tracks.

 

Cloud's overworld appearence was backed up with 2D image scenes

 

Marching forward with his team and accepting himself as their leader. Cloud stuck into the important role like a natural after spending so long being headed by Sephiroth, the superior SOLDIER mercenary and a mentor to Cloud. The AVALANCE troupe made it their goal to tail Shinra’s forces around Midgar to halt their operations at construction of further Mako Reactors. Often succeeding in their missions, the group shut down many of the company’s armed mecha defence weapons and the agents backing them up. while vowing to keep his childhood promise to protect other team member, Tifa Lockheart.

Settling into the village of Kalm an their travels, Cloud began to speak in detail about his relationship with him former mentor he recalls how Sephiroth suddenly dropped out of SOLDIER and razed Cloud’s hometown of Nibelheim. Unknowing that Sephiroth had in-fact discovered just how the SOLDIER workers had come into being – through genetic engineering of JENOVA – stealing the alien organism claiming it as his “mother”. Cloud was still unaware of the details surrounding the event but managed to chase the man to the villages mako reactor atop a mountain with no recollection of what transpired afterward.

Unbeknownst to him, Cloud had actually learned the truth of his existence during the feud with Sephiroth and subconsciously hidden it away from himself. Cloud was unable to piece the past back together without being conflicted with crippling pain the moment a key part of his part was mentioned. The memories he could recall stemmed  from the manipulation of Sephiroth and the memories of Tifa and Zach, a friend and genuine member of the SOLDIER – unlike Cloud.

 

Cloud's signiture sword was given to him by actual SOLDIER member, Zack Fairclough.

 

As the game progressed, Cloud’s team figured out their part in the transpiring events. Sephiroth was using them to aquire the “Black Materia” needed to summon a destructive meteor which Sephiroth would aimed to collide with the planet. Not looking to destroy the world, Sephiroth was attempting to cause the planet such pain that it’s recovery energy, the life stream, would gather into the single spot for him to absorb for himself. Cloud’s efforts with his turn turned to the attention of Sephiroth’s narcissistic dreams.

Cloud’s debut in Final Fantasy VII saw him as the first character to be introduced since the series jumped away from sprite characters and into 3D. Displayed on screen somewhat of a stick figure, the PS1’s graphical capabilities meant Cloud didn’t really hit home as someone with the upper body strength to carry his humongous Buster Sword – though his overworld design still actually suited his concept art. During fights, however, Cloud’s physical appearance stepped up a notch as showed him as a truly agile force to be reckoned with. His sword gave the impression of a slow-heavy hitter, but his ability to swing the blade as if it were cardboard. proved otherwise with his developing techniques throughout the course of the game backing up his speedy slices. His signiture Buster Sword was given to him from Zack Fairclough during his dying hours as the weapon that gave him hope. The giant blade was often referred to as the “Giant kitchen knife” between the development team and was the result of many different collaborative designs decisions.

Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, Cloud had to fit the troubled persona he had been given while still retaining a somewhat heroic throughout despite his explained heroic past efforts not being his own. His finished design didn’t convey a particularly strong looking character, but instead an agile looking swordsman showing his fabled SOLDIER looks through his heavy boots and minor body armour. Throughout the early game, Cloud wouldn’t show much emotion or even his true personality. Explained deeper as an aspect of himself which was locked away along with his rejected memories, Cloud had every right to look troubled. He somewhat jerk-like attitude toward his goals were said to come from the sins he thought were his own with protection of the people and the forgiveness of his friends being what drives him forward as a hero.

 

One design for Cloud depicted him with 6 blades!

 

Cloud’s last major appearance was in the Advent Children feature film. A CG animated movie directed by Cloud’s own designer and a story he would take charge in again as the spiritual successor to the events of Final Fantasy VII. Providing a much deeper sense of personality through on-screen appearance, Cloud’s own story has already concluded. Fans have long dreamt to see his HD appearance via a remake of his debut title. Whether we’ll see it is a very hot topic amongst gamers. But one thing is for sure. We met Cloud as a hero, his past heroic deed may not have been his own, but he lived up to them in his own way thereafter.

 

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