Dissidia: Final Fantasy

August 29, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under PSP, Reviews


Title: Dissidia: Final Fantasy
Release Date: August 25, 2009 (US), September 4, 2009 (EU), September 3, 2009 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action Role Playing/Fighting
Platform[s]: PSP


Dissidia focuses on the eternal battle between Cosmos (the Goddess of Harmony) and Chaos (the God of Discord), eventually the two entities summoned warriors from across time and space to continue their fight.  As the battle wages on the forces of Chaos employ dirty tactics leaving Cosmos’ representatives on the verge of defeat… leaving but ten of the best to restore harmony and end the chaos.

The game’s story is split three ways; Prologue, Destiny Odyssey and Shade Impulse.  There are ten different Destiny Odysseys, one for each protagonist and the epic conclusion is of course Shade Impulse, of which there’s only one of.  A majority of people will find the story doesn’t really take off until the last stages of the story arc which is quite a disappointment actually, particularly for a Square Enix title.  The story present in D: FF is a little clichéd; it’s not as deep or powerful as the individual Final Fantasy entries but how could it be?  This isn’t an RPG.  There are ten immediately playable protagonists plus a secret character and the same can be said of the antagonists.  What we have is essentially a compilation, yep it’s a tad diluted and of course it has to be because of the scale of the cast and nature of the genre.  



It’s hard to know how to best sum-up Dissidia.  At the core it’s a fighting game but not like Tekken or Street Fighter more like Marvel: Rise of the Imperfects and yes I know that doesn’t instantly sell the game but worry not.  Let me explain, D: FF features the single-input command system found in Kingdom Hearts but rather than full in-depth worlds to explore the player bounces from arena-to-arena in order to defeat the next opponent in a one-on-one battle.  So as mentioned before imagine Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects coupled with Kingdom Hearts and the offspring (in gameplay terms) is this.  To stay alive and to do maximum damage the player has to consider two main statistics in battle: HP (Health Points) and BP (Brave Points), the idea (obviously) being to reduce the enemy’s HP to “0”.  This is done via a combination of HP attacks (circle) and Brave attacks (square), stealing the opponents BP ultimately means more power HP attacks.  This isn’t all though, there’s also the Ex Gauge!  This is a single bar on the HUD which is filled by dealing damage/taking and collecting items in the field.  If the bar becomes entirely populated your character will then be able to enter ‘Ex Mode’ which temporarily increases attacks, opens up new attacks and lets the player use ‘Ex Burst’ which is essentially an overly powerful move similar to what Final Fantasy fans will remember as ‘Limit Breaks’. All this is presented in an open arena, in which the aim is to do battle with a single enemy: combat is split between ground and aerial combos, dodge, block and counterattack manoeuvres and finally special moves.  It all sounds rather complicated but it isn’t, within an hour, maybe two, it becomes second nature.  Often battling in Dissidia feels like re-living the CGI movie Advent Children and by this I mean there’s a lot of wall-running, flying and aerial shenanigans – I want to add at this stage that a lot of people wont like this, just as a lot of people didn’t like the Dragon Ball Z inspired aerial dynamics of the movie.  I personally adored Advent Children and because of such none of is a bother to me but I know not everyone will share the love!

We’ve covered combat; hopefully you now have an understanding of how this works but one aspect which separates FF: D from other fighting games is Square Enix’s interesting RPG element.  Characters can push their way up to level 99, equip weapons and armour (for statistical not physical purposes) as well as link themselves to some of the franchise’s favourite summons.  Embracing this will give you a bit of an advantage but isn’t strictly necessary until the later chapters of the game.  Also aside from the RPG elements other interesting segments of Dissidia are the Calendar (which gives you in-game bonuses on certain days), Character Files (information on the story’s major players, the multiplayer, the museum (unlockable movies and music are stored here) and the Replay Editor (after a while you unlock the ability to save recordings of battles and edit the footage.  There’s also an Arcade mode which takes away the RPG side of things and instead throws players into a more traditional combat scenario. 

Earlier I mentioned multiplayer, didn’t I?  As with many PSP titles it’s an Ad-Hoc only affair I’m afraid (though there are workarounds for those of you keen to do so) but it’s an absolute joy to play none-the-less as almost everyone customizes their heroes in different ways so often each fight feels unique.  My only gripe is that occasionally lag occurs, not in an unplayable way but certainly in a noticeable way!  As you play multiplayer you continue to earn artefacts and gain experience so it’s well worth a go! 

This is a deep game with so many unlockables and so much playability but with a story that leaves much to be desired and somewhat repetitive gameplay things aren’t perfect.  In fact there are fan-boys/girls out there who will surely believe that this leaves a blemish on the Final Fantasy name.  I however don’t think so, you have to remember that this is a game aimed at action, not story and often this style of gameplay goes a long way in an action game.      



Think Kingdom Hearts and you have an instant visualisation of Dissidia.  Sure it’s not quite on par but none-the-less it is one of the best graphical games available for the PSP, especially the cutscenes – which a few more of wouldn’t have hurt.  I suppose it’s very much like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII in the way things appear visually between cutscenes and gameplay. Which makes you wonder how Square Enix have managed to master graphical development for the Playstation Portable while so many other developers fall flat on their face.          


Hmmm… this is a mixed one!  On one hand the game has those awesome tracks we’ve all come to love from the Final Fantasy franchise.  There’s even the victory fanfare after every battles.  Unfortunately most of the voice-acting is dull and badly performed; this is an absolute shame as it takes away from the mood and is uncharacteristic of Final Fantasy as a whole. 

Overall Score & Replayability

So what do I think of Dissidia: Final Fantasy as a whole?  Well – the PSP unfortunately lacks somewhat in terms of quality games, sure there’s a few, but not enough… at least there’s one more now!  Here we have a fantastic game eclipsed by a few minor flaws.  There’s plenty to unlock and plenty to do which unfortunately some gamers wont witness as they struggle past the repetitive nature of the gameplay and occasionally difficult gameplay (and epically hard final boss).

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Title: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Release Date: June 23rd 2009
Developer/Publisher: Luxoflux/Activision
Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform[s]: Games For Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 & 3, PSP, Wii, Nintendo DS (I am reviewing the Xbox 360 version of this game)


Based on the movie of the same name, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen attempts to recreate Michael Bay’s blockbusting take on the classic kids franchise of yore and turn it into a sturdy third person next-gen action/adventurer. Running adjacent to the storyline of the film but avoiding any major spoilers, the game sees the Decepticons attempting to find and resurrect Megatron after his supposed demise in the first film, while the Autobots, sworn enemy of the Decepticons and all-round good guys, are tasked with protecting the inhabitants of planet Earth. In gaming terms this means you get to play through a series of skirmishes masquerading as epic battles in poorly designed cities, with the two factions dukeing it out in a giant robot battle royale.



As exciting as a giant robot battle royale sounds, any thoughts of a wrestling game based on the classic franchise (now THAT’S an idea for a game) should be banished as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen barely ever lifts itself out of the third person action/adventure doldrums. You can choose to play a campaign as either the Autobots or Decepticons, and in some cases (in fact, nearly all of them) it’s far more satisfying to play as the bad guys because not only can you get away with smashing seven shades out of whatever identikit city you may be trouncing today without feeling too guilty about it, but the characters feel weightier and handle more as you’d expect a giant killer robot to.

The overall narrative remains the same throughout the game, but depending on which side you choose will affect the outcome of each skirmish, and ultimately the closing movie at the end of the game – but it is interesting to see both sides of the coin, and again, bashing seven shades out the Autobots is far more enjoyable.

Control of your chosen ‘bot is fairly simple, with the left and right sticks controlling movement and camera respectively, while the face buttons are assigned to jumping, attacking and pulling off your character’s special move. LT puts you in weapon mode and RT (while in weapon mode) fires. Unfortunately, the one area that Luxoflux has really let itself down on is the one area of the game (and indeed, the franchise) fans will be most disappointed in and that’s the Transformation mechanic. Pressing RT puts your character into it’s vehicular state, but in order to keep him there you have to hold RT down THE WHOLE TIME – meaning that while the Transformation animations look and sound the part (more on that later), you will never really feel like a robot in disguise, as invariably you will lose control of the vehicle (the pressure you apply to RT translates to the speed of the character), drive into something or get RSI. However you are able to pull off advanced attack manoeuvres whilst transforming back into a robot, so it is quite handy from an offensive point of view – but these special attacks only serve as a way to dispatch your enemies quicker than usual, as it really is impossible to employ any sort of tactics or strategy when tackling your foe.

Nine times out of ten, battles descend into frantic button bashing anyway - and the severe lack of moves can be frustrating, as you are completely limited to a three hit combo by repeatedly tapping the X button. Yes, you have your weapon systems but up close you rarely get time to target your opponent before he’s kicked you in the ass and run off laughing. In this respect, the enemy AI appears to be quite snappy – they do attempt to adapt to your position to get a clear shot on you, climbing buildings etc to get an advantage, but in some cases you are still able to stand just out of your enemies line of fire (just behind a wall or at the bottom of a building, for example) and defeat them with your weapons. Thankfully though, fights are usually so frantic that you don’t get many chances to employ this tactic.

Boss fights are equally disappointing and cumbersome, relying on the age old tactic of learning predictable attack patterns and nipping in quick to do a small amount of damage before retreating and waiting for your next opportunity and so on and so forth. Although (and here’s a radical idea) it is actually possible to never die as your bot’s energy is regenerative: once you’re in the red (so to speak) you simply transform back into a vehicle and scoot about a bit until your health returns. So essentially, if you get bored of the ten minute boss fights you can just steam in with all guns blazing until your health dwindles, nip off to heal and then return. It’s a very crude way to fight, but if you can’t be bothered to do it “properly” it serves as a healthy alternative.

The missions themselves mainly involve smashing seven shades out of your opponents, but from time to time you will be charged with protecting NPCs from the film (Megan Fox etc) or reactivating comms towers within a set time limit, but mainly it’s a whole heap of metallic butt kicking that never really seems to get off the ground, storywise. Fair play to Luxoflux for attempting to follow the film without giving too much away, but this only serves to make each mission feel completely disjointed from the next and on no discernible timeline.

Between missions you are returned back to your bot HQ, where your colleagues summarise the outcome and comment on your performance. This is quite satisfying as a Decepticon, because it’s absolutely impossible to get through a mission without causing massive damage to the environment and the little human vehicles trolling about during a fight, and as an interstellar badass it’s in your best interests to destroy everything in your path. As an Autobot, however, it can be quite soul destroying hearing Optimus Prime whine for the umpteenth time about causing more damage than you prevented.

Each mission is timed, and you earn Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals depending on how quickly you complete them. You can also upgrade your team by earning Energon (a bit like Galactic Credits) during a mission, and then spending them on maxing out your health or improving your melee strength (among other things) - although none of these improvements seem to make much difference.


One of the most satisfying aspects of the game though, is the way you can unlock old G1 episodes of the original cartoon series once you hit certain targets within the game (use a particular character’s special power enough times etc), and there’s also a heap of easily achievable gamerpoints on offer during the opening stages of the game.


Visually, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a bit of a mixed bag – the opening sequences of each new area you unlock and the cutscenes stay true to the films, and although they’re anything but lifelike it’s hard not to be impressed as they look gorgeous in HD.

In-game is an entirely different matter though, your enemies and the environments you fight in are thoroughly last-gen and we even encountered some pretty major slow down when things got a bit hectic on screen. Once you’re in control of a character though, you can see a lot of care has gone into recreating them faithfully and they do justice to the subject matter as well. The Transformation animations are particularly enjoyable and detailed, even down to Bumblebee’s doors appearing and then slamming down shut as he changes into the yellow Chimera from the films. Things explode when you collide with them, and it’s quite satisfying to watch your ‘bot slide down the side of a wall trying to catch hold to scale the side, causing damage to the building with their hands and feet as they do so.

One very confusing aspect of your controllable characters is that they appear to be larger than pretty much anyone else on screen. Your enemies (apart from the bosses) appear tiny next to them, and other vehicles just seem out of proportion next to your beastly motors. Maybe it’s the camera angle, an intentional feature (why?) or just a plain old oversight, but either way we found it really annoying.


Sound-wise, Revenge of the Fallen has a lot to offer – the musical score appears to be lifted straight from the film, mirroring the action quite well with fast paced backing tracks scurrying along underneath on screen battles and the like. The Transformation effects are pretty nice as well, at times sounding like the original cartoons and others like the new fangled films – all are satisfying and go some way to putting you into your favourite bot’s boots. The other, sundry effects (bangs, guns etc) fit in nicely as well. The voice acting is also pretty spot on, with Peter Cullen voicing Optimus Prime, and all the other Autobots and Decepticons sounding as they do in the films. At the time of writing we couldn’t tell you if Shia Labeouf or Megan Fox lent vocal duties to their respective characters but whoever did manages a pretty good impression of both and it adds to the “blockbuster” feel this game aims for but falls down on in so many other areas.

Overall Score & Replayability

Reading back through this review we’ve focused so much on the negative aspects of the game that we’ve forgotten to mention that if you can overlook these points (as we managed to do on several occasions) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a very enjoyable little game. Yes, it would benefit from revised controls, an improved combat system and more of a next-gen sheen, but with a second cinematic sequel practically a dead-cert these are factors that could be amended for Transformers 3 – providing Luxoflux are at the helm again, of course.

We’d suggest a weekend’s rental or a bargain bin purchase at best; as unfortunately there aren’t enough good points about the game to warrant the £44.99 price tag. Achievement junkies and Transformers fans will find a small amount of replay value in the main game in order to complete both campaigns, but only true completionists will continue to grind to unlock all the G1 cartoons.