Cloud and Red XIII drag the party back to Red’s hometown, Cosmo Canyon, to get advice on the whole “obliterative meteoric cataclysm” thing from his human grandfather, Borgenhorgen. Badenhoffen. Whatever. He feeds them a spiel about having to remember where they’ve been in order to figure out where to go next, or something like that, and they all just start thinking about poor dead Aeris, which is kind of a downer for everyone concerned (‘cept for Bosenhugen; I’m not sure he ever actually met her, so he just keeps doing his creepy “hoo hoo hoo!” laugh). It occurs to Cloud, though, that maybe Aeris actually had some kind of plan. That… huh. Y’know, I suppose if she had some kind of Cetra ace up her sleeve, that would explain why she was willing to go and face down Sephiroth alone… I mean, it was still dumb; there’s no reason she couldn’t have taken a few people with her and left Cloud behind, but if she legitimately had good reason to think she could end it right there, I can sort of understand wanting to keep her friends out of danger (well, except for Yuffie; I think Yuffie should be kept in as much danger as possible). Binglehopper suggests he accompany the party to the place of Aeris’ death and see if they can find any clues as to what her plan was, so it’s time to hit the road again.
Back in the City of the Ancients… well, the entrance to the hidden shrine where Aeris actually kicked the bucket is blocked by some kind of oversized ornamental clownfish (seriously, what is with the marine motifs in this place?), but Buglehorken does discover that Aeris’ plan was to use an artefact known as the White Materia to access the ultimate form of white magic, Holy (the opposite to Meteor, Sephiroth’s ultimate black magic), a spell which is said to wipe out everything that threatens the planet. Cloud, justifiably, finds this definition concerningly vague, but Borkahoogen insists it’ll work out fine. For a given value of “fine.” And “work.” They discover that Aeris has actually cast the spell already (so there’s no need to go and find the White Materia, which was in her possession when she died), but Sephiroth is blocking it from taking effect somehow. Remove Sephiroth from the equation in time, and Holy will take out the meteor. You know, I think this is the first time in this entire game we’ve actually had a plan! YES!
Things are… disrupted a little… when one of the Weapon-monsters, Diamond Weapon, decides to attack Midgar, the capital city of the world or whatever. Luckily, the Turkish electricity board have taken the giant cannon they used to destroy the first Weapon, moved it to Midgar and reconfigured it to run on pure life force, making it pretty much one step down from the Death Star as far as mass-mudering potential goes, but it’s not quite operational just yet (wait… how exactly did they move this thing to begin with? It’s bigger than a skyscraper and clearly not built to move under its own power; did they… like, roll it to Midgar, or…?). Cait Sith alerts the team to what’s going on, and actually gets a really awesome bit of dialogue where he calls Barrett out for only caring about his daughter’s safety and not being bothered with innocent people who just happen to live in Midgar or work for the evil power company (the kind of innocent people who were written off as collateral damage by Barrett’s eco-terrorists at the beginning of the story). Y’know, I initially found Cait Sith kinda boring, and then he was a massive douchebag by betraying the party to the Turkish police, but in spite of everything, he’s really growing on me. Even if he is a fortune-telling robot cat.
Cloud and the others go down and fight Diamond Weapon, keeping him busy long enough for the giant cannon (which, for some reason quite beyond my comprehension, is now called the ‘sister ray’) to fire. Before the beam actually hits him, Diamond Weapon fires off a massive barrage of sparkly things. End result: both Diamond Weapon and Midgar are wrecked, and Sephiroth’s great big energy shield, hundreds of kilometres further north and directly behind Diamond Weapon, takes a hit from the giant laser and collapses. Whoo! Let’s go stab him!
Only… the giant laser isn’t shutting down like it should. Actually it’s drawing even more power for another shot. It’s drawing levels of energy that are in fact hugely dangerous to the city. Um. It seems Hojo, the mad scientist, has decided that he can use the cannon to feed power to Sephiroth. Cait Sith convinces the party to enter Midgar and stop him from blowing up the city in the process. When we reach the giant laser to stop him, Hojo reveals that the reason he’s doing this is because he is, in fact, Sephiroth’s biological father. Wait, I thought Sephiroth was… like, a clone or something, with a surrogate human mother (Vincent’s ex-girlfriend) but no father… no, actually, Hojo used cell samples from Jenova to mutate his own child. Okay, I guess he thought he was making some kind of hybrid Cetra, which isn’t so bad, but still… WOW. Just… WOW, Hojo. Dad of the year. Seriously. And then once he’s finished explaining all of this he turns into a twisted purple fungus monster thing and tries to kill us. And then turns into some kind of sleek, colourful, flying humanoid tadpole and keeps trying to kill us. So, uh… good to see the gene therapy’s working out there, Hojo.
Hojo, after Diamond Weapon, is probably only the second fight in this game I’ve really had to think about, in terms of picking the right spells to use and managing my party’s actions and such. To be honest, there are moments when it sort of feels like most of the actual gameplay in Final Fantasy VII is really just a run-up to the ridiculously powerful optional bonus bosses, Ruby Weapon and Emerald Weapon, and everything else is deliberately a little on the easy side so it doesn’t get in the way of the story. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Anyway, with all this happily resolved… well, okay, ‘happily’ is a bit of a stretch, but resolved, at any rate… there’s only one thing to do: go shank Sephiroth! (Okay, this being a Final Fantasy game there’s actually loads of stuff left to do but most of it I don’t find all that interesting).