Should I Buy? – Dissidia Final Fantasy Duodecim


Man that title’s a mouthful. This may sound like some incredibly insular title aimed only at the most dedicated of fans. That’s partly true, this is another example of nerdy fanservice taken to the extreme. However, this title is far from excluding.

A basic knowledge of Final Fantasy is good as it’ll help you know who these characters are, why you should care and help ease you into a lot of the game’s systems. That being said, I’ve spoken to people who’d had no prior experience with the series who loved it.

This is the prequel to the original Dissidia Final Fantasy from 2009 which pitted a hero and villain from each of the first ten main Final Fantasy games against each other in a battle of good vs. evil. It was a love letter to the fans, and its return with Duodecim is bigger and better in just about every way.

The game introduces eight new playable characters to the original’s twenty two. I’ll list them here for Final Fantasy fans: Laguna, Vaan, Kain, Tifa, Yuna, Gilgamesh, Prishe and a super secret villain character.

The Dissidia game use a unique battle system that is basically a beat ’em up with huge stages and RPG elements. In battle you’re free to run, jump and climb all over the stages while the two characters unleash one of two types of attacks. You have ‘Brave’ attacks, which lower your opponents Bravery points and increase your own. These are the bread and butter moves of Dissidia. Then, you can use these points to launch HP attacks, more difficult to use moves that decrease your opponent’s health by your total Bravery points.

This system really differentiates Dissidia from other brawlers, and helps this game not feel like the clone of some other fighting game. The RPG elements I mentioned work because they’re entirely in the background. As you fight, you level up, learn attacks and support abilities and can equip better weapons and armour. Tweaking these makes your characters very customisable while still keeping each character’s unique style intact.

And each character does have a completely different style. You could loosely define three types, ‘powerhouses’ that have great close range attacks but little else, ‘tricksters’ that are nimbler and weaker, but have special tricks to make up for it and ‘shooters’, characters with primarily long ranged attacks that rely more on tactics to use properly. The unique properties of each character is drawn from their in game personality and abilities, and really makes you feel like you’re fighting as that character you love, much like the Smash Bros. games.

There are also a few new features to the combat, like ‘EX Revenge’ and the ability to call in another character to assist you in combat.

Also, each of the old characters has been rebalanced. In some cases with completely new moves. I want to make special mention of Jecht, who gained the ability to fire lasers from his eyes and throw flaming meteors around, as if being able to backhand the final boss’ attacks away wasn’t enough. And all that time you spent levelling them isn’t wasted, you can start a new game on here with all those levels and skills transferred just as they were. The top level equipment though? You gotta get that again.

The story doesn’t measure up to the combat though. If you’ve heard of or experienced the legendarily great Final Fantasy plots, you’ll be disappointed. The voice actors do acceptable jobs (with Kefka again being the highlight, though Gilgamesh rocks too), but the script is really lacking. Then again trying to recreate, or in terms of the earlier story-lite games create, everybody’s character arcs in the few cutscenes they get in their story mode is probably too great a challenge for any writing team.

You should still play through the story mode, it’s just far from stellar.

Probably the best non-mechanic part of this game is the soundtrack. It’s got tunes collected from all the represented Final Fantasy games, most of which were composed by industry titan Nobuo Uematsu. Listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT6CmBOcAfw for example, and this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KNssd1wdH8

There are problems with this game, though they’re really just niggling complaints like I don’t like how they’ve restructured the equipment system etc. and fanboy bemoaning of favourite characters, stages and tracks that aren’t included. None of them should put you off of this.

This is one of the reasons to own the woefully lacking in quality titles PSP. Get this over buying the original, it literally has all the old content with more added. If you’re a fan that didn’t get the first one, get this one. If you’re not a Final Fantasy fan but want to try it out or just want a solid game for your PSP, give this one a look.

Just, it may not grab you straight away OK? It may take a few hours for it to really click. Give it that time. It really deserves it.

 

Price: £20 (CEX)

 

 

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