For the average hardcore gamer who gamed in 1997, a flawless masterpiece.
For the intelligent and thoughtful gamer, game designer, or fiction writer/lover/TVTroper, a baffling combination of the extremely impressive and the mind-bogglingly pathetic. It had an incredible budget and yet they didn't seem to hire a quality assurance team, an experienced music arranger, an experienced 3D modeler, or especially an English proofreader.
The story would be genuinely touching if the translation weren't a garbled, largely incomprehensible mess, and if the 3D character designs and animations weren't among the hilariously worst ever made in a 3D game. Much of the art was breathtaking for the time, but the character models, which are the most emotive and arguably the most important visuals in the game, look horrendous. The music is fantastic in concept, but whoever converted it into MIDI doesn't know a fucking thing about how to use MIDI well-- although I will admit many of the songs did actually turn out well. There were a lot of complex ideas coded into the game, but there are far more hilarious and pathetic glitches in sheer number than even Sonic '06 has, even if the actual frequency of the glitches in VII compared to that of those in Sonic '06 is only 50% at worst.
Final Fantasy VII is not the *perfect* game, nor is it the most awful *joke*. More like, it is the *perfect joke*.
Bob: Hey man, Final Fantasy VII is the best game of all time!
Steve: If by "best" you mean it has "the largest gap of difference between the most amazing and the most awful points ever achieved within a single work", then yeah, it is.
Bob: Uhhhh... What?