1UP writes: Crisis Core may be an action game, but Square Enix is nevertheless pushing it as a role-playing game. And what is a Japanese role-playing game without an oddly-named gameplay system or two to call its own? Cornflakes without the milk, that's what. Why, a console RPG without an elaborately-named system would be like Half-Life without a crowbar. Fortunately, Crisis Core doesn't disappoint, offering not one but two systems for gamers to learn: the familiar Materia system and the opaque DMW system.
Materia in Crisis Core works almost exactly as it did in the original Final Fantasy VII. Protagonist Zack can customize his battle capabilities by equipping small, color-coded stones. There is, of course, a bit of needless narrative handwaving to explain why tiny rocks allow the hero to roast enemies with high-level fire spells, but in the end it's just another vehicle for casting magic. Zack can initially equip four Materia at once, with up to two more slots made available by completing certain tasks. In battle, these function as alternate attacks. While fighting foes, players cycle between sword, materia and the items menu with the L and R triggers -- no menus involved.