Dissidia: Final Fantasy

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

Overview

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

Storyline

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.  

Dissidia-Screen

Gameplay

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.      

Dissidia-Screen-2

Graphics

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.          

Sound

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).