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

How to Beat the Scrub Out of You

Every fighting game match has the same outcome – someone wins and their opponent is the loser. By and large this is how things go, and very rarely will there ever be a draw. This is objectively true, but for every new fighting game people flock to, a staggering percentage of the player base has historically had trouble with understanding this fact. If you’ve been fervently playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3 like I have, your inbox that’s probably full of hate mail can verify that you’ve also come across this special type of player; perhaps you’re one of them yourself. I’m talking about the Scrub.

What is this Scrub you speak of?

For those of you who don’t know what a Scrub is, it’s the type of player (although not limited to fighting games, but this is where they flock to) that feels the need to take things a step further with their opponent after they’ve lost a match. Whatever tactic that was used to win will immediately be scrutinized; it was “cheap”, they used too many projectiles, they didn’t “fight like a real player,” they too chickenshit to get up close, their team was just so much better than the loser’s; the list of complaints go on and on. The sad thing is that each and every point of argument is so steeped in stupidity and rage that it cannot be taken seriously.

Because of the reasons I stated above, I venture to say that the only type of match a scrub would really enjoy would be one that doesn’t suffer from those “flaws.” Further, I imagine this fight would be perfectly balanced, so to speak. Perhaps it’ll go something like this: He does a number of tricks and really injures you, and you return the favor with your own arsenal of moves, while explosions are going off in the background and both of your fan clubs are hopelessly cheering you two on. But in the end, he wins, because he’s supposed to. If he doesn’t, then there’s something wrong. The perfectly scripted encounter is supposed to go his way because nothing else matters as long as the scrub wins. No matter how ridiculous a match goes, a scrub will never ever complain if they win in the end. If they lost, then they’ll suddenly feel violated, and the verbal insults fly in every direction. The truth is, anything goes. There is no code of honor when it comes to a fighting game. There’s no perfect way a fight is supposed to go, and that’s never going to change. You deal with it, and you focus on getting better. If you can’t do that, it’s best to stop playing for your own sake.

“If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough…”

I know what it’s like. Over my years of playing fighting games I too have suffered so many losses that I’ve had no other reaction than blind rage. I would let my anger cloud my better judgment, leading me to make more mistakes. As a result, I was also more susceptible to falling for the same traps and the same attacks over and over. For example in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, whenever you get blasted by Doctor Doom’s beam attack your character falls to the floor. If you’re not immediately blocking, you’ll roll up, only to get blasted again. If I don’t wise up, why should my opponent do anything different?

It takes a certain type of mindset to play fighting games. Have you heard of the phrase “when you get knocked down, you gotta’ get back up?” well, I’ve never seen that idea apply more to anything than a fighting game. If you don’t start playing with the frame of mind that losing is an occupational hazard that will happen more than you’d like, you’re going to destroy yourself. The one thing that divides a scrub and a regular player (not even professionals) is that when a regular player loses a match, he or she doesn’t dive right into playing the blame game. Regardless of how the loss happened, a player that can rise above is taking notes. They are watching and analyzing how they are losing, and will promptly GO BACK TO PRACTICE MODE to iron out those kinks.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is unfortunately synonymous with a lot of scrubby debates, but I can definitely sympathize with them. I’ve gotten spanked by Sentinel more times than I can count. In fact, on the second day of playing online, I got so depressed from losing that I didn’t want to cover this game anymore. Every character has the potential to defeat every other character; it just takes a lot of effort and experimentation to find out what combination works for you. When all else fails, you just might have a bad matchup. In that case, take note of it, and move on.

But I’m so lost don’t know where to begin…

If you decide to play a game like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, you have to consider the fact that you’re going to lose. You’re going to lose often. The best way to deal with this is to pay a lot of attention to how the match is going. What strategies is your opponent using? Are you able to overcome them with your own style? If you’re losing a lot to a general playing style like ‘keepaway,’ where the opponent does everything in his or her power to keep you pinned with projectiles and other attacks to force you in the corner, use characters who excel at ‘rushdown’, who can bring a lot of pain when their right in the oppositions face. This is pretty rudimentary, but still effective, especially if you haven’t considered this. By really learning your characters and the characters that you’re facing online, you should start to develop strategies to beat them. Of course, it may be hard to think of all of this on your own, but remember, this is the internet! Go to message boards, watch technique videos, read a strategy guide! There’s a mountain of resources out there made for people trying to get better. Use them!

If you ever feel like you’re not getting where you want to be, go back into the lab. Keep experimenting, and come up with new strategies. Perfect your team and work on any weaknesses you have, or are learning about based on how you’re losing. The time you put into practicing will reflect on your overall skill. While spending ten or more hours a day like professionals do when they’re preparing to compete in tournaments may not suit you, find out what works best for your situation, And watch as you start to rack in some wins.

Here’s a couple links that can get you started if you feel like you want to improve your game:

http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Marvel_vs_Capcom_3

–          Shoryuken.com’s comprehensive “hyper guide” details EVERYTHING you need to know about Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While there’s a lot of material to sort out here, so my advice is to read a couple pages, and practice what you’ve learned. Once you feel like you’ve gotten a few things down, go back and read more. The front page also has video walkthroughs explaining each character’s strengths so you can start putting together your dream team.

http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/995376-marvel-vs-capcom-3-fate-of-two-worlds

–          I’ve always made it a point to visit GameFAQ’s forums for every game I cover as a second resource. While this community is not strictly composed of fighting game enthusiasts like Shoryuken, I’ve found a couple of good discussions here as well.

http://shoryuken.com/f340/

–          If you wanted a more focused discussion about an individual character, this is the place to go. I usually go here when I want more information about a character that catches my interest after watching the introductory videos found on the first link above.

Good luck, and remember not to get discouraged if you lose.

Why I Won’t Get a 3DS… For Now

While new consoles always flaunt more advanced hardware and intuitive software than the previous generation, the first crop of games always seem to leave many of us wanting more, and in some cases, feeling sour for forking so much money only to be underwhelmed. Taking on every facet of the 3DS will have to wait until more information is divulged, so this article specifically deals with the trouble that most new consoles face upon their release; the first batch of games that are used to “wow” the public into making the big purchase.

They said this day would come

To me, buying a new console soon after its release is like taking a risk. While I admit to owning each relevant system, I also admit that I got a hold of them relatively close to their launch dates as well. While many of my friends were envious that I was an early adopter of many consoles, I never was as excited to be “one of the first” as other people are. For the handheld crowd, its new console season, and with that, each new press release has been attracting fans to wanting to be the first to own; an innate status I never really enjoyed.

To me, there are a lot of roadblocks that make it so I’m really uncomfortable with purchasing a new system early on. I have never been impressed enough with the relatively small lists of launch titles to warrant forking out an arm and a leg to buy it. I was the first on my block with a Dreamcast, Xbox, Gamecube, Wii, Playstation 2, PS3 and Xbox 360, but I didn’t readily welcome picking up their new-fangled controllers for at least a few months afterward.

This is happening right now for Nintendo’s 3DS. The DS’s successor is being hailed as Nintendo’s newest golden child in a dynasty in (portable) gaming excellence, and with good reason. Nearly anyone you talk to owns a DS, and for the most part, they love it. A follow up to it is naturally going to get a lot of positive reaction. While I too have high hopes for it, I won’t be so quick to purchase one yet, until I see good reason to.

Video Credit: Youtube user AlphaProtocol360 , Capcom, Super Street Fighter IV

“Since we’re naming names here…”

The 3DS’s sky-high price of $249.99 feels like a reoccurring nightmare that began with the PSP Go. Of course new tech is going to be expensive, and you’ll definitely get what you pay for. However, I just don’t see myself paying that much right now just to be able to take a portable iteration of Super Street Fighter IV, for example. Fighting game purists already have enough difficulty competing with a standard control, and are quick to shell out even more cash for a proper arcade stick. Success in competitive fighting games requires the player to be able to execute every technique and combo in their arsenal on command. This just isn’t possible on a handheld controller. This has been true for every other portable iteration of a mainstream fighting game in the past, and that fact just isn’t going to change now. On the bright side, it may be better to say this game will be aimed at the average player base who may not have that much experience with Street Fighter, and want an easier time getting into it. In that respect, this game may work out pretty well. Still, it’s largely the same game, albeit with some new connectivity features and an oblong new camera angle. I’m still not convinced enough to buy this.

Give it some time to grow

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the 3DS isn’t a good purchase just based off this examination of Super Street Fighter IV. I’m saying that for me, I need a lot more convincing than a few shiny ports of already-existing titles, or slight re-imaginings of games we’ve already come to know. I want something new. The future of handheld gaming is definitely on its way, but I think we can wait a little longer for games that are much more substantial. When that happens, purchasing a new console like the 3DS won’t feel like such a waiting game. I don’t think the “future” that we’re all thinking about has emerged yet, since we’re still looking in the past and conjuring up new coats of paint for games that have already come and gone.