For those who finished Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you may have seen the black-haired character named Zack. While Zack appeared as an NPC in the original Final Fantasy 7, we never see his backstory there or in the remake. But he has an entire spin-off game, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7, that chronicles his life.
Crisis Core is only available for the PlayStation Portable and has never been ported to any other device, so it’s completely understandable if you’ve never played this game. Crisis Core not only features Zack Fair and his story, but gives background to the Shinra Electric Power Company, the war against Wutai, Soldiers, and many other characters.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s director, Tetsuya Nomura, has stated in an interview that many of the spinoff Final Fantasy 7 titles will no longer make sense with the remake. While he didn’t specify which titles lose their place in FF7 canon, one might assume that since Crisis Core takes place before Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it remains mostly true. FF7 media that takes place after the game, such as the movie, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, and Vincent Valentine’s spin-off game, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy 7, probably lose their continuity the most.
[Ed. note: Heavy spoilers for Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 continue below.]
Who is Zack Fair?
According to the events of Crisis Core, Zack Fair is a happy dude who wants nothing more to be a hero like “the great Sephiroth.” He followed his dreams, joined Shinra as a Soldier, and climbed to First Class. Throughout his journey, he encounters Aerith, the flower girl we know and love. They grow close and despite having romantic feelings toward each other, never are able to get together. He has a mentor named Angeal Hewley, from whom he inherited the iconic Buster Sword.
Along the way, Zack meets Cloud, a Shinra lackey gunman, who failed to make it to Soldier. They bond over being from middle-of-nowhere towns outside of Midgar and grow close.
While most of Crisis Core is spent with Zack serving Shinra, he does become aware of the horrors of Shinra’s human experiments and of Jenova, the alien that fell to earth. He witnesses Sephiroth’s descent into madness, and Shinra’s very own mad scientist, Professor Hojo, captures both Zack and Cloud. He experiments on them, injecting them both with Jenova cells, in an attempt to turn them into vessels for Sephiroth to control. (The game officially calls these “Sephiroth clones,” though they’re not genetic clones.)
The experiments are deemed a failure, so Hojo locks Zack and Cloud up and freezes them. Eventually Zack breaks free and drags Cloud’s body out of the facility. This is when he’s faced with hundreds of Shinra gunmen and is killed.
Zack is known for being an integral part of Cloud’s story. After Zack loses to the soldiers, he entrusts his Buster Sword and his legacy to Cloud. When Zack hands him his sword, the Jenova cells in both of their bodies react and Cloud gets some of Zack’s memories, merging them with his own. This leads to Cloud’s confusion surrounding his own history and identity, as he often thinks he did things that Zack did.
What’s Zack’s role in Final Fantasy 7 Remake?
By the time you see him in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, he’s in what are usually his last moments, in the original game’s timeline. In the original, Zack dies protecting Cloud against a swarm of Shinra guards, however, the last bit of Remake implies that there is a timeline where Zack lives.
Cloud and his friends defeat the ghostly Whispers, allowing them to change their destiny away from the original game’s storyline. After this happens, Zack beats all the guards and carries Cloud to Midgar. Usually, the guards overwhelm him and he dies. Remake’s cutscene even shows Whispers flying around Midgar, preventing Zack from possibly entering before Cloud and his friends take them down. It’s unclear whether or not Zack lives — for all we know, he could collapse and die right in front of Midgar — but signs seem to point to Zack being alive in at least one other timeline.
Zack isn’t shown much in neither the original game nor the remake, but he’s a very important character in the Final Fantasy 7 universe nonetheless.
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