Review: Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Review

A noteworthy movement of the PSP’s swan song.

Publisher: Square-Enix

PSP

Release Date: March 22, 2011

Players: 1-2

Rating: Teen

The PSP’s days are numbered. While a lot of handheld gamers are flocking to the recently released 3DS, people are quick to write off the PSP as yesteryears craze, thinking it has nothing left to offer. Although triple A PSP titles have been few and far in between, when they do show up, the competition can’t help but blush. Judging by the hundreds of hours I’ve put into the first Dissidia Final Fantasy, it’s clear that this game will always be known as one main reason that I own a PSP. When it comes to sequels to fighting games, the best solution to improving on a great formula is to simply add more of everything, and Dissidia 012 does just that.

The main storyline of Dissidia 012 is actually a prequel to the first game. Two gods, Cosmos and Chaos, are perpetually at war with one another. Dissidia 012’s name comes from the twelfth cycle in this war. To settle their eternal conflict, they summon various warriors to fight in a battle that seems to last forever. The premise is simple enough, but still succeeds at being more convoluted than the games it pays homage to. The disjointed narratives in each characters story offer a small piece in this puzzle of a plot, and the differing perspectives certainly keep things fresh. However, with the amount of fights between each plot point, it was a chore to bother keeping up with the story, other than the fact that there were good guys and bad. The true appeal to this game is seeing a representative from each Final Fantasy on the PSP screen. The huge roster doesn’t lend itself to much development, other than background information any Final Fantasy fan would already know about.

Square Enix has always known the importance of great visuals, and they definitely delivered in terms of eye candy. Every character and battlefield are faithfully recreated from their respective game and brought to life again here. Seeing characters from older Final Fantasies who used to be confined to crummy pixels and low quality sprites fully come alive on the PSP’s screen is also a treat. Watching the particle effects from every strike is stunning, as characters fly through the large creative arenas while engaged in combat.

Although this title sports the name Final Fantasy, Dissidia 012’s game play blends its familiar RPG elements in with a fighting system unique to any game out there. Characters have hit points which govern how much life they have, and bravery points. Bravery attacks are strikes that add to your own bravery and subtract from your opponent’s. HP attacks use the bravery you’ve built up to actually hurt your opponent. Are you the kind of player that builds up a large amount of bravery to knock out your enemy in one clean blow, or do you prefer to break them down piece by piece with a bunch of HP attacks throughout the match? With this concept, coming up with intricate strategies to take out your opponents ensure that fighting never gets boring, as the vast majority of your time will be spent playing will be in the battlefield anyway. Assists are an interesting addition to the battle system with Dissidia 012, and they’re similar to Marvel vs. Capcom’s assists. By dealing damage you build up a meter that allows you to call them out, either to bail you out from a beating or to set up a combo of your own. It would have been nice to see teams of characters fighting at once, but having guests momentarily jump in to pepper a few strikes before disappearing was nice.

While the core game play of Dissidia 012 is the same as its predecessor, this game really shines in the additions Square-Enix has made to the existing system. To break up the monotony of wandering a grid between battles, there is an actual world map to traverse. It’s nice to have the feeling that you’re actually exploring an expansive world to reach a new locale, rather than wondering how one scene takes place aboard the cart of a rushing train, and the next one occurs on the moon. Another noteworthy addition is the party system, where you can form teams of five of your favorite characters during the adventure. If you’re in the middle of a long dungeon and you get tired of playing as one character or if they die in battle, you can swap in another one on the fly. For those looking for even more juice to squeeze from this fruit of a game, there’s even an option to alter the rules of the game itself, or to create quests where they control every possible variable. Once you’re done, you can share your unique quests over the internet. The levels of customization are essentially endless. Unfortunately, enjoying a lot of this content (like dressing your characters up in alternate costumes, playing different battle themes, etc) is only available outside of story mode, which will be where the bulk of your time is spent.

It should be no surprise that you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with Dissidia 012. The main storyline runs at about 20 hours, and upon completion, you unlock the entire story mode from the first game, with updates to reflect the changes Dissidia 012 brings. With over 30 characters to build up to level 100 and various forms of customization like more costumes, new attacks and items to collect, hundreds of hours will go by in a flash. While the PSP may be on its last legs before being replaced by its successor, you can sit by comfortably waiting for the next wave with Dissidia 012.

Rating: 4/5

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Finally Done!

After two long weeks of agony, pain, suffering, and a couple well-placed game breaks that turned into all nighters to compensate a lack of my regular doses of gaming, I’M COMPLETELY, DEFINITIVELY, WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT FINISHED WITH MY FINALS! My short break will only last until mid June, where I start my summer course. That’s a long enough period of uninterrupted relaxation for me. Thanks to California’s budget cuts and such, I’m only limited to taking a Physical Education class, which isn’t too bad I suppose. On top of that, I should be hearing back from that thing we call an employer, so we’ll see how that goes. In any case, this was by far my most difficult semester, and I’m really proud I was able to fly through it without melting down (completely).

One of the few things that have definitely kept me sane this semester is Dissidia Final Fantasy. Ever since I got it this past Christmas, it has occupied the UMD slot of my PSP and has never left it’s metallic embrace. From the first day I popped it in till now, I’ve hit 145 hours of gameplay – a near inhuman feat for most of us, but entirely possible when played in between classes or whenever there’s some time to do a couple battles or two. I don’t own too many PSP games, but out of the ones I do have, they’ve all been excellent and have all stolen a LOT of my time. For Dissidia, it’s the ultimate game for the Final Fantasy fan. Despite the extreme time I’ve put into it, I still feel as if there’s a lot to do.

When I first started, new equipment, abilities and characters seemed to get unlocked with every fight I won, and I was constantly wondering when this would end. As I reached Level 100 as Bartz, my main character, things seemed to trail off as I maxed him out. The story modes and Duel Coliseum kept me going for a while, until I met with the final boss, Chaos.

Let’s give a warm welcome for the newest member of the Worst Fighting Game Boss Society.

And I thought SNK Boss syndrome was bad. Ultimate Rugal is a damn choir boy compared to this guy. Every fight against him is clearly made for the player to lose! Most of his attacks are unblockable, or undodgable. Should you somehow break out of his attacks or he whiffs you, there’s usually a second part to his combos, which you can never escape from. His summon stone restores itself, while yours can only be used once in the three round fight against him. It has multiple uses, like tripling the damage he does, freezing his bravery so he can immediately dish out the pain ad nauseum, and reducing your own bravery to zero in less than five seconds. I wish I were making this up, and not telling some kind of ghost story to make you guys afraid. He’s unnecessarily cheap, and was the only roadblock in an otherwise excellent game. Based on how loud I cheered when I landed the final blow on him in the Library, beating him was a highpoint in my play through. The 15-25 hours devoted to losing wasn’t.

I think it’s a good time to retire Dissidia. With Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep coming out in September, I have the summer to pass the time, at least on my PSP.

As I write this in the corner of my college’s near vacant library, I’m itching to get home and decompress on my . I’m slightly annoyed that I can pick up a game on its release date or within the same week, but never seem to complete the game or get far enough to write a competent review, and post it up while it’s still super-relevant. I guess I’ll have to settle for just relevant, which is okay. I’m a college student first and foremost.

Alright, enough with the rambling. Time to get back in writing shape, and get to work on the handful of blogs I’ve cooked up. Cheers!