Throughout the years Final Fantasy has been the leader of the RPG genre for the past 20 plus years. From the epic storylines and music, to innovative job class systems and deep engrossing characters, Square (now Square Enix) continues to take the series in new directions. One of these directions is Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Taking twenty of the most memorable characters from over the years (ten heroes, ten villains) and having them battle in the name of either Cosmos or Chaos makes for a great game. It is probably one of the best PSP game out there right now and I my new personal favorite.
Now all past Final Fantasy games have a deep and engrossing storyline, and Dissidia is no different. The gods, Cosmos goddess of harmony and Chaos god of discord, have been locked in eternal conflict for centuries. Each of the gods calls upon ten warriors to fight on behalf of them and to tip the scales in their favor. Thus, twenty of the most memorable are summoned to do battle for their respective deity. As the battle ensure, Chaos tips the balance into his favor and forces Cosmos and her warriors to retreat. Then she tasks them to find their respective crystals in order to stop Chaos once and for all. For the some who may think, "Is that all of the story?" well it's not. This is the main storyline that ties all of the other characters together. Each of the characters go through the same storyline, but then at the same time it is different for each of them. As you play through each character, you see the story through the eyes of that character, which is different for everyone and add a more personal touch to each.
Dissidia is a mix of two genres, action-rpg and fighting, which is a really strange combination but work very well. When the game starts up it asks what kind of player are you. Depending on the answer will affect the difficulty of the game and what kind of bonuses can be earned. Also new is a calendar that show when bonuses are scheduled and when the main bonus is. There are three types of modes in Dissidia: Story, Arcade, and Quick Play (more on the other two later) but they all play the same way. The main mode in Dissidia is the Story mode (called Destiny Odyssey), which of course is to battle Chaos's forces and to retrieve each character's crystal. Each character has their own Destiny Odyssey and each has their own difficulties, Cloud being the easiest and the Warrior of Light being the hardest.
Story mode plays almost like a board game, taking your character and making their way to the end space of that level. On the way there, Chaos has his minions, traps, and bosses set up over the board trying to slow your progress down. Once the end of the board is reach, the character is rewarded with a level bonus depending how many steps it took to get there. They are also rewarded with XP, gill and a new type of currency called Power Points (PP more on that later). What makes this game different from the other fighters out there is that the characters have two offensive types, HP and BRV (Bravery). HP is of course the health of the character each is mapped to two buttons (circle for BRV and square for HP) which branches out to two types of attacks, land and air. The attacks go even deeper as each land and air attack has three different attacks that can be used. Now what makes this different from all the other fighters and action rpgs out there is that depending on the button press (i.e. left analog stick and circle) can produce a different attack.
And what kind of Final Fantasy game is Dissida without over the top limit breaks? Do enough damage to the opponent lets the character enter EX Mode with can let them perform a EX Burst, Dissidia's version of limit breaks. Each character has their individual EX Burst move reflecting from which game they are from. Now this is where rpg elements come into play. You can customize the characters attack buttons based on how you want to play and which character is chosen, since each character has their individual styles. Players can also customize the equipment used, accessories carried, and the summons used, just like the rest of the Final Fantasy games.
As with any Final Fantasy game, graphics and sound are just as much important to the game as gameplay and storyline. Dissidia does not disappoint in either. After coming of the success of Crisis Core, Tetsuya Nomura returns as the character designer for Dissidia. It clearly looks like that the graphics engine used to make Crisis Core was also used in Dissidia. The characters never look so better. The heroes and villains of Final Fantasy VII to X get a visual lift, while the characters from I to VI get rendered in 3-D for the first time. Each respective character also has alternate outfit, for those wanting the characters to look different. For example Cloud has the Advent Children outfit for his alternate, while Squall has his SeeD for his. In addition to the characters, the levels look amazing as well. Each stage is based off of one of the ten Final Fantasy games with two of the stages being original Dissidia stages. With those stages, comes battle music, and Dissidia has plenty. The soundtrack pulls from each of the Final Fantasy games, from the battle theme from Final Fantasy II to One Winged Angel from FFVII, there is a diverse selection to listen to. Also included in the soundtrack are two original songs, Cosmos and Dissidia, performed by Your Favorite Enemies. Even the main theme and the all too familiar victory theme are in the game as well.
With most Final Fantasy game, once the end credits roll, that's it, game over. Not with Dissidia. Now once the main Story mode is finish you can go play it again, able to unlock paths that were not accessible before and can be accessed. By playing through the Story mode a second time can help earn extra gill, PP and other items that couldn't be accessed the first time around. But Story mode doesn't stop there. Once you play through any character once, Shade Impulse can be played. Shade Impulse is the continuation of the Destiny Odyssey and is much harder. If it seems too much to handle, then leveling up in the Quick Match mode will help. Quick Match is where you can go up against another character and earn more gill, XP, and PP. The stage, level, and personality of the CPU can be set up before each match. Depending on your starting level, the CPU will have the same level as its default.
There's also an Arcade mode, where it is straight up fighting. All characters are equal and items and equipment is pre-chosen for those who want to just jump in and play.For those who want to show off their hard fought win, humiliating loss or just want to show off a small movie, Battle Replay is there. Now this feature, located in the Museum, let's you take saved replays and edit them anyway you want. After finishing editing the movie, it can convert it to a AVI to upload on to YouTube. Another feature called the PP Catalogue is where the extras are available for purchase using PP. From the rest of the ten characters and alternate outfits, to voice clips, calendar bonuses and extra stages, there is a lot to unlock. If that wasn't enough, there are in game achievements that can be completed for more items. Last, but not least, is the Communications Mode. This is the online mode of the game where players can battle each other through an Ad Hoc network, exchange ID cards called Friend Cards, and also trade Ghost players. As you can see there is a whole lot to do after completing the Story Mode, and a with a whole lot of extra items, bonuses and other things that can be added, Dissidia is worth playing through more than once.
Dissidia Final Fantasy is one epic of a game. From the story and characters to the extra content and items to unlock, there is a lot of stuff in this game. No wonder the game asks if you would like to do a Data Install. There's a lot of stuff in it. Dissidia is right up there with Metal Gear Portable Ops as being one of my favorite games out on the PSP right now. It's a must have for fans of Final Fantasy and for those who want a great game to play. I would love to see Square take this new entry in the Final Fantasy universe farer and build upon it, either it be a squeal, DCL, or a port to the PS3. Again this game is great and I highly recommend it.
- Mike V.
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