Dissidia: Final Fantasy Review

Before, when one thought of Final Fantasy and a fighting game together, the only game that would come to mind would be Ehrgeiz, and, well… let’s not go there. Finally, with the release of Dissidia: Final Fantasy on the PSP, Square Enix’s storied RPG franchise has a fighting game that looks great, sounds great, and plays great. For fans of the series, Dissidia is nostalgia heaven, filled with characters, music, and even little easter eggs that completely encompass the FF universe. For those who aren’t Final Fantasy-adept, the game still presents an interesting twist on the fighting genre that any gamer can enjoy.

The premise is simple: an ongoing war between Cosmos, the goddess or harmony, and Chaos, the god of discord, is coming to a head, and Chaos has the upper hand. Cosmos’ troops, which include all of the heroes of Final Fantasy I-X, are charged with finding and harnessing the power of the crystals in order to defeat Chaos once and for all. Each hero has his or her own branch of the story that players will experience, each with varying degrees of difficulty. I thought that the difficulty settings where sheer Square-Enix brilliance, as Cloud Strife’s branch (who Square apparently assumes will be first played due to his popularity) is easiest, while the Warrior of Light’s branch (who some readers just had to remind themselves which FF he was from) is hardest. That way, the characters already well known aren’t taking all of the spotlight away from those who don’t have the same staying power. After each branch is completed, there are four more episodes until the final battle with Chaos himself.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy

Dissidia‘s battle system seems at first to be too complicated for anyone to understand, but patience will reward those looking to get a handle on it. There are two major elements in battle: Bravery, which is technically attack power and defense rolled into one, and HP, which is the character’s actual life bar. Bravery decides how powerful a successful HP attack will be: high Bravery versus low bravery results in high HP loss, and vice versa. If one character succeeds in lowering the opponent’s bravery to 0, then a “Break” occurs, which leaves the opponent open to heavy damage. Among all of this, there’s also an EX bar, which activates EX Mode. In EX Mode, aside from the temporary stat boost, a successful HP attack can lead to an EX Burst move, unique to each character, that puts a hurting on the opponent. EX Bursts will remind gamers of the Limit Break systems in previous games; Squall’s EX Burst, Renzokuken, has the player hitting the R button in time with the sequence to enhance damage, just like in Final Fantasy VIII. This adds a bit of nostalgia to what otherwise is a brand new battle system for a Final Fantasy game, and it is a nice touch for veterans of the series.

Customization plays a big part in stat-boosting, something that FF fans have come to expect. There are a multitude of items to be found within the story mode: weapons, armor, potions, etc. There are four different types of wearable items, each boosting a different stat: weapon raises attack, hand (or shield) raises defense, head raises bravery, and body raises HP. A character’s base stats will affect which items you give to which character: a high base HP doesn’t require the best body armor, but if that character is low on base Bravery, the best helmet available will be needed. The idea of making each category of equippable item affect a certain stat like this is interesting, and I’d love to see it in a normal RPG setting. Accessories are present too, but in another new twist, aside from buying them, you can actually create accessories based on how you perform in battle. For example, when fighting against Cloud, there is a chance you can receive a certain accessory by just scoring a “break” on him. With all the accessories that are in the game, that makes for a lot of experimenting in battle in order to get them all. Like other FF games, customization will play a major part in your success or failure in Dissidia.

The game looks fantastic. The stages are beautifully rendered, though a bit dreary-looking, and the character models are superb. Each character retains their look from their original game: same clothes, same weapons, same everything. Of course, when I say “retains their look,” I don’t mean that Firion from Final Fantasy II is pixelated or that Cloud looks like he’s been put together with LEGOs. I simply mean that while the graphics are new and shiny, the character’s look and persona are untouched, and that is something all fans of the series can appreciate. Character movement flows very well; I don’t remember seeing a single instance of choppiness or blockiness. The magic attacks are bright and colorful, and the EX Bursts fill the screen with sharp movement and flashy effects. Dissidia may very well be home to the best graphics and animation on the PSP.

The music is exactly what it should be: remixes and reuses of some of the best songs that the Final Fantasy games have to offer. All of the greats are here: “One Winged Angel” from VII, “Otherworld,” from X, and the best version of the classic Chocobo theme, “Mambo de Chocobo” from V. The remixes are done very well, and the songs that aren’t remixed bring me back to the good ol’ days of gaming. Even the original songs written for Dissidia have a nostalgic feel to them, and they fit right in with the rest of the tracks. The voice overs are crisp, broadcasting the dialogue through the PSP’s speakers as clear as a bell. From an audio standpoint, that’s great, but be ready for the type of cheesy dialogue that FF, no, all RPG fans know and love, a perfect example being one of Cecil from Final Fantasy IV‘s victory quotes: “I walk the path I must!” Right. Despite the cheesiness, the game delivers in the audio aspect just as it does in the visuals: crisp, clear, and downright beautiful.

All in all, Dissidia: Final Fantasy is a highly enjoyable experience whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not. There’s enough RPG elements in the battle system to keep the role-players happy, and the fighting system is fresh enough that fighter fans will want to give it a shot. Great visuals and a stellar soundtrack round out what truly is a complete game experience for the PSP. If you’re interested at all in Dissidia, I highly recommend trying it out. You’ll be glad you did.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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