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Dissidia - Final Fantasy Member Review for the PSP

Gnarl By:
Gnarl
09/20/09
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Fighting RPG 
PLAYERS 1- 2 
PUBLISHER Square Enix 
DEVELOPER Square Enix 
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity

What do these ratings mean?

A FANTASY’S FINALE?


  Yes, you can play as Sephiroth.
  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can look at the rest of the game with some peace of mind!
  So Square Enix have finally decided to grant the ultimate fantasy to their fan-club: a Final Fantasy combat/RPG genre video game, including almost every beloved character from the entire series, ranging from the first game’s Warrior of Light, to critically acclaimed Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife.
  But does this unashamed fan-servicing concept actually work?
  Given the sheer volume there is to Dissidia as a game, I'll work toward covering the most important elements only!

  Final Fantasy: Dissidia has something for everyone: whether you’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy since day one, have only just recently got into it, or indeed just fancy the look of Dissidia itself, the game is entirely accessible. 
There is no demand for knowledge of any of the characters’ back stories, so you won’t be missing out on much in terms of information should this be a “pick up & play” situation for you.  While it can help if you’ve played some of the earlier games, particularly where the Cloud/ Sephiroth or Tidus/ Jecht relationships are concerned, it isn’t really essential.  And nothing that Wikipedia can’t fix!
  However, with that in mind, if you do happen to be a fan of the series (which you most likely are) then prepare for a pinch of disappointment regarding the characters’ personalities.  None of them feel particularly true to their roots, and few give a fully accurate depiction of their own Final Fantasy game counterparts.  While Cloud is still melancholic and Squall “the lone wolf”, it’s all an extremely one-coat-of-paint job- and this goes for the villains too I’m afraid.

  Furthermore, fans of the series will also have come to know that Final Fantasy tends to be Japanese for “Fantastic storyline”- Final Fantasy VII being a key example: its storyline having etched the franchise’s name into gaming history, encompassing love, betrayal, personal discovery and self-growth oh-so convincingly.
  The jist of Dissidia’s storyline involves the eternal conflict between the goddess of harmony, Cosmos, and the god of destruction, Chaos.  Being of equal strength, the two deities call upon their own forces of good and evil, in order to tip the balance. 
  While it does seem unfair to compare Dissidia to its heavyweight predecessors, the game nonetheless still falls very-much-so short of the mark.  You’ll find its storyline to be crude, convoluted, cryptic, cheesy and much like a one-night stand: once it’s over, you’ll probably forget all about it in a couple of days.

  All this said, it’s very unlikely that you’ll actually care!
  Dissidia is more choc-full than a Chocobo in terms of content.  If you’re not playing Quick Battles (which are basically highly customisable one-on-ones) to level up some twenty different characters- all of whom have impressively different fighting styles- you’ll be ploughing through the hefty Campaign Mode.
  This offers players the chance to take one of ten Final Fantasy heroes on their own personal journey in search for their crystal: an artefact they are assigned to search for by Cosmos, in the hope of winning the war.  Once you’ve finished a hero’s five Campaign levels, there are also an additional four chapters (which comes to a total of seventeen additional levels) to block, dodge, limit break and Firaga your way through.  Sadly, there’s no Evil campaign in place, so you’ll be restricted to using the likes of Ultimecia and The Emperor in alternative play modes only.
  There’s even other facilities such as an Arcade Mode to keep you happy, which offers every character to play straight off the bat- though equipment and abilities are non-customisable.  It’s the least appealing mode, but will still put a smile on your face as you’re awarded a tasty 300 PP for finishing five battles in a row.

  Indeed, Dissida is extremely charitable where its content is concerned- there is in no uncertain terms of ton of stuff to unlock here.
  The game incorporates a "Calendar system", wherein the player may select how often they think they’ll be playing the game, and a ‘Bonus’ day.  Depending on your predicted playing hours, certain numbers of battles will net you prizes- so the more you reap, the more you sow.  ‘Casual’ gamers will win prizes more frequently, but they won’t be of the same calibre as those ascertained by ‘Hardcore’ gamers- who on the flipside will have to put in some serious thumb-exercise before they’re rewarded their spoils of war.  Whereas Bonus days, if played upon, will grant access to in-game Shop discounts, extra experience points, and in general just plain “bonuses”- hence the name!
  Furthermore, every battle gives a little love.  Should you win, you’ll be granted not only the obvious experience points for your character, but items generated through meeting certain conditions via a “Battlegen” system, which can be used to craft more powerful items and weaponry.  You’ll also be awarded two currencies: Gil (which to non-Final Fantasy fanatics, is basically money) and “PP”, which can be used to purchase new levels, alternative skins for every characters, different famous Final Fantasy soundtracks for you to select to fight alongside, and so on so forth.  The list is truly endless!
  Even where the Campaign Mode is concerned, at the end of each chapter, points on your overall performance will be totted up, and prizes will be handed out based on the latter.  Furthermore, new treasure chests and Summons (creatures to aid you in battle) will become accessible, giving way to playing through each hero’s storyline all over again.
  It’s really very satisfying, and leaves the player with a true sense of achievement at the end of your probable five-hour gaming session- stopping only because your PSP’s run of out of juice and there isn't a power point in sight.

  “All over again” might set off a small alarm in your head: ‘Oh no, repetitiveness!’ I hear you cry.  Not quite!
  As I mentioned, each character is, surprisingly, vastly different in terms of play-style.  Whether you prefer an up-close and personal approach, sitting back and barraging your opponent with a flurry of magic, or standing somewhere in the middle of the latter two, you’ll spend hours just tinkering with each character, soaking up their unique battle prowess.
  Levelling each of them up also gives way to even more RPG goodness: certain levels will unlock more items to be bought in the game shop, or new abilities for the character in question, for which you have only so many slots to fill with- giving way to tactical battlefield gameplay.  Which leads us on to the combat system itself. 

  Storyline or even character selection for the game aside, a poor combat structure could have ruined Dissidia.  Nothing would be more frustrating than being granted the iconic katana of Sephiroth, only to find it’s as difficult to use as a 1950’s lawnmower.
  Luckily, Dissidia and the guys at Square Enix deliver.  However, it should be noted that, at least to begin with, it takes a tiny bit of getting used to.  Indeed, so much appears to be going on that it can be a little off-putting.  But if you take the time to read the manual, and persevere through the first half-dozen battles, you’ll find yourself harvesting the most from Dissidia.

  The system works like this: combatants have two gauges, your Bravery gauge (BRV) and your Health gauge (HP).  The Circle button allows you to perform Bravery attacks, which sap Bravery from your opponent, and add it to your own.  The Square button, on the other hand, allows you to perform Health attacks.  Upon a successful HP attack, opponents lose health equivalent to your Bravery.  Thus your BRV is reset to zero, and you lay in at them again to build it back up.  It sounds fairly basic in black and white, but it can lead to some truly epic battles.
  This is primarily due to the host of different BRV and HP attacks each character can perform, not to mention a host of other factors each battle takes into consideration, ranging from your equipment and Summon spells, Stage Bravery attainable, and a myriad of experience-gainage multipliers.  See what I mean about reading the manual?
  There’s also well-timed dodging to perfect, essential stagger-causing blocking to master, wall-running and grinding of all things to partake in, and last but not least, air-dashing, which allows one to fly toward their opponent Advent Children style, and quickly close the distance.
  You’ll be surprised how important this slick ability is, considering the fact that many moves will send you- or hopefully your opponent- flying across the level.

  Speaking of which, level design for Dissidia is near perfect.
  Most involve large, open, destructible arenas, which really set the scene in terms of style, layout and Final Fantasy character.  You might not see it now, but once you’ve sent Sephiroth flying through a stone pillar, only to chase after him and engage in a mid-air combat sequence, the world will suddenly seem a much brighter place.
  However, some levels, which are indoors, can be a little frustrating.  The camera can often cause irritating moments where it hugs a corner or two, meaning that while you listen to your Buster sword crunch through an enemy’s skull, you won’t be able to see a thing.  You can still move the view with the D-pad, but it doesn’t help with allowing a full emersion into the battle at hand.

  Visually, Dissidia is of course stunning- simply typing the title into Google’s Images function will show you that more than any reviewer could.  Sound effects are crisp and clear, and while the voice-acting can be somewhat stale, the soundtrack and quite frankly gorgeous cut-scenes (though few in number) more than make up for it.

  Since I’ve gone and more than run myself out of my usual two-page-space, given the vast amount there is to Dissidia, I’ll make my conclusion short and sweet: in traditional Final Fantasy terms, this isn’t just a Yellow Chocobo pretending to be Gold- it’s Gold alright.  And portable.


                                                                                                A-
                                                                          + Gorgeous graphics
                                                                          + Intuitive combat system- that works
                                                                          + Fantastic character selection…
                                                                           - …that only half of can be played in Campaign Mode
                                                                          + Battle replay function (PS3 compatible!)



Dissidia - FInal Fantasy review by A.H. Topalian.


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