Even if you haven’t played the game, or didn’t like the game, you may still enjoy reading this. I think I explained the situation well enough for people who haven’t played the game to understand. The game I’m talking about is Final Fantasy 7. The argument, Cloud is evil, heartless killer. His only redeeming features are that he cares about a few close friends, but that does nothing to lessen the evil of his callous disregard for everyone else. There may be other interpretations of the events in the game, I understand if you disagree, but be civil about it.

This is sort of a continuation of the conversation started here, in the comments. This conversation only deals with the beginning of the game, when Cloud is paid money to kill people. He clearly does not care much about fighting evil, as evidenced by threatening to leave if Barret doesn’t pay him more, I believe he wanted 1000 more gil than he was already being paid. So he is clearly evil at the beginning but my goal in this post is to analyze his changing motives throughout the game and prove that he is still evil during the entire game.

The first time his motive changes to something other than money is when he gets separated from Barret and the other members of Avalanche, the terrorist group they are a part of. He protects Aerith from Shinra kidnappers in exchange for a date. Why? Because he loves her obviously. There’s a lot of arguments on the net over whether Cloud l0ves, Tifa or Aerith, so I’ll just clear it up right now.

Cloud was going to leave Avalanche, and Tifa basically begged him to stay. His response, he’ll stay if Barret pays him twice as much for the next job(which brings up another point, where the hell did Barret get all this money anyway? I assume all of Avalanche’s operations were bank robberies before the beginning of the game). That hardly seems like love to me.

And when Aerith asks him to fight Shinra to protect her, she offers to pay him with a date, and he accepts? He doesn’t try to squeeze a few gil out of her like he did with Barret. Clearly Cloud is in love here, but the question is, does this new motivation make less evil than before when he killed for money.

Well protecting someone you care about is certainly a better motive than killing for money but it doesn’t really change the fact that most of the game is spent following selfish motivations. Because he can occasionally have good motives to help people about, we’ll say he’s slightly less evil.

After the immediate danger to Aerith is taken care of, Cloud heads to sector 7 slums to go meet up with Barret and the other Avalanche members. Why would he do this? He got separated after blowing up the reactor. He never got paid for his job. On his way back he finds out the Tifa was captured working under cover to get information. Aerith also followed him, and together the rescue Tifa.

So I guess that’s another point in Cloud’s favor, he does something nice and helps out a friend. It’s not surprising considering, that Tifa has been his friend since childhood. Since his entire hometown was burned down, she is the oldest friend he has that’s still alive.

After rescuing her he learns that Shinra will blow up a support pillar and a piece of the plate will come crashing down on the sector 7 slums. Why would Cloud try to save sector 7. He still hasn’t gotten paid. If sector seven gets crushed, then the thousands of gil he was promised will get crushed as well, so its worth the effort to prevent that. If he’s successful he might get Barret to pay him even more money for saving sector 7.

Unfortunately they are unable to stop the plate from crushing sector 7. Barret is completely filled with rage, Tifa is upset as well but tries to calm Barret down. Cloud has complete disinterest in the loss of human life that just occurred. This could be one of the best examples of his disregard for human life.

Cloud’s next motivation? Aerith gets captured by Shinra. Since he loves her he has to rescue her. I guess this is another positive motivation fro Cloud, but it leads us to the most important motivation in the game. Revenge on Sephiroth.

Cloud’s hometown was burned to the ground by Sephiroth. Up till now Cloud believed Sephiroth to be dead, but now he finds Sephiroth is still alive. There’s no reason to go into detail about the rest of the game because the motivation is the same, relentless obsession with killing Sephiroth. As soon as Aerith is safe they begin a world spanning quest to hunt down and kill Sephiroth.

Now in the link I provided, JPH says in the comments, and I agree, motives are more important than actions. Although Sephiroth is trying to destroy the world, and become a god in the process, that’s not why Cloud wants to stop him. He states, on separate occasions, that he has no interest in saving the world, he just wants to get even with Sephiroth. Rarely if ever has obsessive revenge been considered a positive motivation, and this is the one that drives most of the game.

So is Cloud good or evil? I’d say he’s basically a selfish prick, who has no problem with killing people to achieve his goals, and showing no concern for any but a few individuals. He’s kinda evil.

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Comments
  1. JPH says:

    I have to admit that I didn’t play much of Final Fantasy 7. I don’t remember the exact point when I stopped, but I know I didn’t get to the end of the first disc.

    Still, interesting read. I’m kind of a sucker for anti-heroes.

  2. krellen says:

    I also didn’t finish FF7 (stopped at a point where I had to walk in step with a parade and didn’t like the mini-game (and hadn’t been impressed with the story, either – sorry, I’d already played FF4, 5 and 6 at that point) so I stopped.)

    But the idea of playing an actual villain (just because he saves someone he loves (or lusts) doesn’t make him not evil) does make the whole thing far more appealing.

    • maxff says:

      I know the exact part you’re talking about, and that parade was bullshit, but I guess I already liked the game enough to keep playing. You already played 4, 5, and 6 which are awesome, so I guess I can’t be too upset if you stop playing 7 because of bad mini-game.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • krellen says:

        Actually, I’d played 9 before 7 too. I was younger when I played 6, so it keeps a soft spot in my heart that I can’t budge, but on balance I think I actually prefer 9 to any others.

  3. Sleeping Dragon says:

    A bit late for the party but… I think this does hint at a more general point, that players are pretty forgiving and willing to accept a lot from the PCs without the hero status deteriorating. I also that motivations are more important than actions, something which computer game devs most often fail to understand making the “evil” choice being also the self-harmful choice (such as ignoring a quest or insulting an NPC whose cooperation you need). But you’re probably used to me nitpicking on stuff by now so here goes.

    FF7 SPOILERS AHOY

    First thing, the “burned my village down/killed my family, I shall seek revenge” has become such a common trope it doesn’t really raise warning signs on the morality analyser. It does help that the perpetrator (of said burning/killing) is usually pictured as absolutely evil, often crossing the moral event horizon in the process (such as killing a child, laughing why said village is burning or doing their nails). Sephiroth falls into this category. The trope of “claims to be a heartless mercenary, only in it for the money, but will do the right thing at the right time” has also been played to death.

    Another thing is that FF7 may not be the best example for this argument. There is the entire mindf*ck thing that Cloud is experiencing, far as I know there is still no real agreement in the fandom to what degree Cloud’s actions are his alone at various points and to what degree they are the influence of false memories and the reunion event. For example his “heartless mercenary” persona is only evident at the start of the game, at which point something like half of his memory is false.

    Of course the same argument could be used to justify the “Cloud is evil” scenario. I have seen it argued that the reason he feels such an immediate attraction to Aerith is how his mind justifies the Jenova cells reacting to her Ancient heritage, at this point the “threat” marker supposedly wasn’t assigned to Aerith yet. His chase after Sephiroth is the result of the reunion event but later on he realises that Sephiroth is a threat to him (since as long as Jenova and Sephiroth operate there is a good chance they could influence Cloud again) and the final assault on the crater isn’t so much a matter of saving the planet as it is of simple survival (considering that all life is about to be wiped out). I sincerely doubt this is the interpretation the devs were going for and it seems somewhat stretched to me but it has been made.

    • maxff says:

      Okay thanks for the comment, some interesting points, but I really have to respond to the whole Cloud/Zack thing.

      More FF7 Spoilers

      “Something like half his memory is false” More accurately, something like one detail in his memory was false. He thought he was SOLDIER first class and he wasn’t. First of all the Promise memory he and Tifa share near the beginning of the game is completely accurate, which is how Tifa knew he was really Cloud and not a clone like Sephiroth said.

      Next is destruction of Nibelhiem, which is where the inaccuracy is, so we can compare the incorrect memory to the true one revealed later in the game. You’ll notice that they are incredibly similar. Cloud shows up at Nibelhiem. True Cloud was there, even if Tifa didn’t recognize him in his uniform, which leads to her not thinking he was there. Sephiroth burns down Cloud’s hometown. True Sephiroth did burn down his town and it enrages him. Notice that Zack came from a completely different town, but there is no confusion here, CLoud know that it his ton that’s being destroyed. Finally Cloud confronts and defeats sephiroth, true he did that as well.

      Now eventually CLoud and Tifa fall into the lifestream and go through his memories to determine the truth, they find several childhood memories of CLoud’s that are entirely accurate, and not a single one of Zack’s. Eventually they discover the truth which Cloud repeats for his other friends after he gets out of the lifestream.

      He was jealous of Zack, because he never became SOLDIER first class, so he pretended to be one, and after years he believed it himself. Aside from one detail all of his memories were completely accurate.

      As far as agreement in the fandom goes, its unfortunate people have poor reading comprehension because the answers are right there in the game, stated plainly for anyone to see. Cloud’s memories were Cloud’s and aside from one detail they were completely accurate.

      • maxff says:

        I don’t know if this applies to you, but for some people, the confusion comes from the ending to Crisis Core, where Zack tells Cloud to carry on his legacy. This may very well be the point where Cloud starts pretending to be SOLDIER first class, but there is still no evidence any other details in his memory have been altered, and there is still no evidence that Cloud acts like anyone other than Cloud.

        You’ll notice I changed the settings to allow more replies than were previously possible so go ahead and respond to either of these comments if you like.

  4. Hahaha you played that damn game so many time those songs are still stuck in my head!!

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