Reviewed: April 21, 2011
Released: March 22, 2011
There are very few franchises in the world of gaming that I love more than the Final Fantasy series. Square Enix’s newest addition to their long and esteemed history has made that love just a little bit bigger with the release of Dissidia 012[duodecim] FINAL Fantasy for the PlayStation Portable.|
Now I will admit that I didn’t experience the previous Dissidia very much before tackling this review but as it seems maybe that was a good thing since this follow-up title is actually a prequel to the well received hybrid RPG fighter. Though this is a prequel there have been some added improvements from its predecessor including the biggest improvement to the story mode. For those that missed the first title fear not as Duodecim has a welcomed surprise that I will talk about later.
The story of Dissidia 012 follows the never-ending conflict between Cosmos, goddess of harmony and Chaos, the god of discord that has slowly been tipping in Chaos’s favor. These two warring gods have both summoned warriors from different worlds to fight for them. To stop Chaos, Cosmos entrust her warriors to retrieve crystals needed to defeat Chaos. This newest tale features nine new playable characters, though only six are available starting out, as well as all the original Dissidia cast.
Following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy XIII, Duodecim features the badass former solder, Lighting, as well as equally powerful Kain Highwind from FFIV. The rest of the new team is comprised of brawler Tifa Lockhart of FFVII, gun totting Laguna Loire from FFVIII, versatile Vaan of FFXII and the very likable summoner Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Players will also get their chance to play as Gilgamesh, Prishe and the newly original character Feral Chaos as you unlock them via playing the different gameplay modes for in Dissidia 012. For those that have downloaded and played the PSN exclusive Dissidia 012 Prologus Final Fantasy you can gain assess to Aerith Gainsborough as an Assist Character.
Dissidia 012 has several modes of play including the main story mode, battle mode and communications mode. The main chunk of the adventure is the story mode and is where you will spend a great deal of your time. Unlike the predecessor, Dissidia 012 features an all new 3D traditional Final Fantasy style world map that players will navigate, explore and interact with the other members of your party. There are shops scattered throughout the world that you can buy gear and weapons like a traditional RPG. This world map also contains the gateways that lead to the actual fighting.
Once in these gateways you will fight various standard crystalline enemies known as “Manikins” who are copies of you and your allies. There are some battles that will put you up against actual Final Fantasy characters chosen by Chaos. The first of these battles was definitely challenging and it took me several attempts to take Kuja down.
The thing about Dissidia 012 is that there is a definite learning curve. There is a pretty extensive tutorial that informs you of every thing you can do, but it’s still not as good as actually doing it and learning the ins and outs of the combat system. Each character has their own set of abilities and strengths that are particular to them including their most famous attacks. Lighting, the major main character, for instance is the only one that can use Paradigms in battle. This is awesome as it shows that Square really put their heart into this one.
To further you characters powers and defeat your enemies, you will have to not only reduce their health to zero but whittle down their Bravery Points as well to be successful in combat. By reducing their Bravery Points and adding them to yours you will become stronger but sometimes that is not enough. Attacking the enemy or personally take damage EX cores will also drop upon the battle field. Picking these up will fill your EX Gauge and once full you can enter EX Mode making you stronger and gain new abilities for a short time.
Players have the option of choosing one of two gameplay styles when fighting their opponents. One is the Action Style, my personal favorite and the other is the RPG Mode. Both are very functional despite a common annoyance which would be the camera work. I chose the Action Style gameplay style as it is faster paced and very similar to modern RPG fighting styles that is very much Advent Children in combat flow. For those that appreciate the old RPG menu style of fighting, Dissidia 012 has you covered as well with a pretty straight forward button triggered menu system.
Dissidia 012 also works upon the old RPG saying of “If you can’t beat them, level up!” which is entirely true in this case. If you find that you can’t defeat your enemies then you can exit the gateway and try leveling up a few different ways. Players can take a break from the story and try the 1-on-1 or Party Battle Modes and both will garner you some much needed EXP or Gil if you win.
Square Enix’s Final Fantasy franchise has excelled in the graphics department a great deal especially since the series has switched to disc based media and the release of one really beautiful and exceptional feature film. It is this same dedication that was put into Dissidia 012 and it looks amazing on the PSP. The battle environments are multi-tiered and feature some beautiful and sometimes evil looking landscapes.
The world however isn’t the best part of Dissidia 012 though. The character models, fight animations and story videos are the part I like most about this release. The character models are brilliantly recreated as well as any alternate look or form from their respectable game worlds. For instance while in EX Mode, Cloud can be seen in his Advent Children attire and Cecil will switch between his Dark Knight and Paladin forms.
I really like how Square has brought together such a huge cast of their finest creations and beautifully crafted them into one story. The fact that I can see Kefka interact in the same game as Cloud, Lighting and Cecil is itself an absolute treat. Being an avid Final Fantasy fan, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pit my favorite characters against each other in combat. I’m actually quite pleased with the collection of playable characters found in Dissidia 012. I also loved the quality of the opening video that narrates the story and highlights Dissidia 012’s main characters. Only Square can deliver this kind of fight animation.
To make things even better Dissidia 012 features an awesome score and great voice acting to boot. If you’re even the smallest Final Fantasy fan you will recognize a lot of the music that has been arranged for this adventure. I really enjoyed how they brought each characters personality to Dissidia 012 as well, like Kefka’s unnerving insanity and Lighting’s no nonsense demeanor that I love.
Dissidia 012 is full of different mode of play and surprises. Besides the 1-on-1 and Party modes there is an Arcade mode that allows you to in consecutive battles to will prizes. There is no exp earned here but it serves a good way to practice your attacks against every character. You can also do 1-on-1 quick matches as well as Group Battles with 9 other players via Ad-Hoc. One of coolest features are the two unlocks that you receive after you beat the story mode.
The first is a massive labyrinthine dungeon to explore that can win you allies, items and the chance to level your character up. The other surprise is that the original Dissidia is also unlocked and has been upgraded with Dissidia 012’s updates. Once I found this out this $30 dollar PSP release just got a whole lot better. Two quality Square titles in one package are definitely worth every penny.
Dissidia 012[duodecim] FINAL Fantasy is a unique title has a lot to offer. The sheer amount of things to do, deep customization and fantastic character line-up make Dissidia 012[duodecim] FINAL Fantasy an absolute must for Final Fantasy fans and PSP owners.