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

Short Update

Hey readers, just a short update here. My third week of school came and went, and everything has been going pretty well so far. I’m satisfied with my classes, and beginning to get the hang of juggling them with work. With everything on my plate this time around, this year is definitely shaping up to be my toughest yet. Even so, I’ve been left wondering when I would be able to fit in some time to get some gaming done. After I finish my homework, it’s usually time for me to head to sleep, or I’d be spending time with my girlfriend. Obviously, not being prepared for school or neglecting my relationship isn’t an option, so once again, games have been taking the backseat. From one perspective, I suppose such is the life of a “truly” busy college student. However, I’m having a really hard time believing it.

Although my PS2 with Star Ocean Till the End of Time sits a few feet away from my bed night after night, I haven’t turned it on in about three weeks. I haven’t forgotten the storyline or the gameplay at all, but it’s pretty ironic how I sunk 20-30 hours into it so quickly, (It’s funny, most of that time was in the span of three days) and my chances of getting a few hours in lately have been nonexistent. Since a couple games I plan on reviewing will be released soon, I seriously doubt that I could finish it with the way things are now, much less enjoy playing through it like I was before school started again. I suppose the good thing is that if and when I ever get tired of reviewing, I’ll always have that backup game when there’s another drought.

For the majority of the summer, the TV that houses my Xbox 360 and Wii has been dead. It’s a 50 inch Sony HDTV, and the only reason why I’m ever in the living room. Unfortunately, it’s been well documented that the projection lamp inside of the casing is prone to failure after a period of time. Every nine months or so, the picture quality begins to degrade, and eventually, it will refuse to turn on. This is extra ironic, because the older televisions around the house have never had any problems, but this new(er) tech fails more often than a first generation Xbox 360. I had planned to spend some time getting back into Guitar Hero in time for its newest release, but I’ve been stopped against my will, until yesterday.

Playing Guitar Hero after six months of inactivity is a pretty humbling experience. I used to slam through nearly every song on Expert, achieving 5 stars effortlessly. I played “That Was Just Your Life” by Metallica on Expert, and had to stop halfway through the song. My wrist on my strumming hand was really hot and began to tighten up due to the breakneck strum patterns, while my fretting hand looked like the broken legs of a spider. It was pretty bad. Still, I ignored the pain and kept going. Eventually, I was used to the pain again and it eventually faded away. After about three hours of playing non-stop, I feel like I made some major progress towards getting my old skill back. I always made it a point to help out those that played with me, by telling them that they have to practically “play till it hurts, and then keep playing” in order to get better, and for once, I had to follow my own advice. I’m a little rough around the edges, but with a couple sessions like that; I’ll be back to my old self, perhaps even better.

So yeah, I’m practically at capacity in terms of things to do, so I’ll have to take my gaming breaks as they come, and enjoy them while they last before I have to get back into the grind of school and work. This semester, much less this year as a whole, will push me to the limit. My posts may be a lot more infrequent (can they get more sporadic than they already are?), but you all know what I’m working on. Peace!