I remember playing this when it was first released. Boy did this game change things. JRPGs were already in the west, but it was this game that got the attention of even the most casual gamer.
For me, I had already been playing RPGs and JRPGs for a while but this game did change thing for me too. It made the RPG genre my favorite genre.
FF 7 is not my favorite of the series, but I do have a tremendous respect for what it is to the genre: A milestone.
At the time, the graphics were absolutely phenomenal, the music all timeless classics, the characters almost perfect in design. Gameplay and sheer amount of variety in activities and the openness of how you want to play.
Why isn't this game my favorite of the series? The plot. Don't get me wrong most of it is very good and is very well written, but some of the bigger parts are either extremely confusing or nonsensical (particularly the last section of the game and most of the plot surrounding Sephiroth. Sephiroth has got to be one of my all time favorite video game villains, and I really do feel the conclusion of the game does not give him respect he deserves, simplifying him to a supernatural Freudian case study.
Overall even with the few minor issues I had with this game, it is still a fantastic game worthy of the praise and admiration it receives. We can only hope that Square one day gives in and gives us the remake most of us are begging them to make.