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Denny Markovic
07 Sep, 2009

Dissidia: Final Fantasy Review

PSP Review | Does it fulfill your fantasies?
Fan service of any type is likely to be one of the best ways to sell a title. If you were to combine a popular franchise name with about a billion of the favourites from that franchise into one relatively big game, you’d certainly get quite a bit of attention, just look at Super Smash Bros. Square Enix have now decided to do something like that, with the release of their RPG/Fighting hybrid, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, where you can literally mix and match and have your dream fight between Sephiroth and Squall, Cloud and Tidus or anyone versus Tidus because no one likes him. The problem here however, is that it’s not nearly as well executed as Super Smash Bros. is, which is disappointing to say the least.

Dissidia’s story bases itself around a war between two Gods: Cosmos, the Goddess of Harmony, and Chaos, the God of Discord. Both have been warring for an eternity and neither side has progressed, that is until both introduced several powerful mortals from different worlds, in other words, the worlds of Final Fantasy. Chaos goes hardcore with his team of darkness and pretty much wipes the floor with Cosmos and her allies, and now it’s up to the forces of light to restore peace and order by defeating Chaos’ forces, lest the world be plunged into ‘True Darkness’.

Though it all sounds decent and a good enough excuse to bring Final Fantasy characters together, it’s executed poorly and is quite boring. The story mode lets you play as all the characters from the light side (sorry evil kids, no story progression for the dark side) and progress through a board game-esque kind of progression system, where you have a certain amount of destiny points at the start that dictate how many times you can move throughout the board. As you progress you fight ‘shadow’ forms of characters and this in turn levels you up and gives you items. There are also random assortments of items scattered on the board which can give you extra goodies.

You're the son I never wanted!

You're the son I never wanted!
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The problem with the Story Mode however is that it gets incredibly tedious. It feels like a chore, as all you’re doing is killing very weak shadow forms (that take a while to load up too unless you install data onto your PSP), and you’re doing this for usually about 5 stages before a fight with a real character begins. And when the game does get hard, it spikes badly, where you might face a shadow form that is suddenly 10 levels above you and asks you to play a hell of a lot harder than you normally would. Though a challenge in this game can be enjoyable, a sudden massive spike from simplistic enemies to complicated and difficult is irritating to say the least. You either persevere and with enough patience beat the enemy, or you quit the progression in Story Mode and go to Quick Play, where you can grind against selected opponents that also aren’t shadow forms, and level up high enough to be able to take the uber powerful enemies on. It’s an annoying set back however for someone who wants to progress through the story, and is completely unnecessary.

Apart from the very weak Story Mode, you’ve got your core combat mechanics, which is the star of the show. Combat works with three forms of attacks: Bravery, HP and EX. Bravery are attacks mapped to the square button, and when they connect with an opponent it lowers their bravery levels and increases yours, thus increasing the amount of HP damage you can deal in one hit. There’s a fairly varied assortment of dodges and blocks too, so combat can become decently tactical and fluid, with opponents constantly duking out to build up their bravery so they can do decent damage to each other. The EX attacks are the special attacks of the game, where once you’ve built up your EX gauge to the max, you can move into EX mode. This turns most of your bravery attacks into Critical Hits for a short duration and also gives you the ability to perform ultimate attacks, assuming you land a successful HP blow on the enemy. Ultimates are essentially fancy looking animations with big explosions and effects, coupled with you usually mashing buttons to maximise damage or defence, depending on if you’re attacking or being attacked.

The system also gives you the ability to mix and match with equipment, items and new attacks assuming you level your character, however half the time you’re not even going to bother much with items and abilities. Items are a little bit of a complicated mess, with several different types that do certain things to your character if you meet the requirements on the battlefield. Some offer base stats upgrades too, but most of it requires so much sorting out and thought that only the more hardcore Final Fantasy fans will bother really. Abilities too, don’t offer any real advantage in combat either, with most just giving off flashier effects and slightly different end results. Though you’ve got the option to diversify your character and make them a little more unique to your play-style, ultimately Dissidia’s combat boils down to button mashing, dodging and blocking, and only the hardcore will attempt to deepen the waters and push for a more complex combat system.

Scantly dressed women luring little kids in..what.

Scantly dressed women luring little kids in..what.
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Level Design is also a big hit and miss with Dissidia, which further pushes you away from the Story mode as you don’t select what level to play on. The more open ended ones are okay, however the more cramped, multi-tiered ones are frustrating and often interfere with the camera, causing unnecessary frustration that puts you off playing them ever again.

The good news however, is that when Dissidia is customised to your liking when playing Quick Play, it can be really fun. Dream matches can be had between characters and there’s an assortment of music from most Final Fantasy games to be selected, so things can feel suitably epic and fast paced. The only downside however is that in order to unlock the Dark Side characters to level up in Quick Play, you need PP points, which are earned through playing the Story Mode and constant Quick Play matches. It’s a little disappointing as the evil characters aren’t even usable in the Story Mode, and it’s an even bigger slap when they’re not even accessible in Quick Play. Arcade Mode, everyone is accessible from the get-go, but you’re limited to 5 matches and they are fixed with level, so it’s nowhere near as fun.

From a technical standpoint, Dissidia is excellent. Featuring some very good texture work, animations and fantastic visual effects, Dissidia is certainly a stand out title when it comes to visual aspects on the PSP. There are no frame rate drops either, so the game is fluid all throughout. Sound is also great, with some excellent music choice throughout the title, both new and old, and sound effects sounding nostalgic and clean as you’d expect. Voice acting however is horrible and robotic, and is almost painful to listen to.

The scantly dressed woman just got a taste of not one, but two swords.

The scantly dressed woman just got a taste of not one, but two swords.
Close
Dissidia: Final Fantasy is likely to sell a lot of copies, all because of its insane amount of fan service. Fans around the world have been waiting for such an opportunity with Final Fantasy, and now they have it. However, regardless of the years of nostalgia, plethora of famous characters and crazy wet fanboy dreams that this game can muster, it doesn’t protect it from being disappointing and somewhat of a missed opportunity. Moments of the game are very enjoyable, but they only happen in spurts, and make you wonder why most of the time you’re simply preparing to have fun. It’s Multiplayer will likely be an amusing romp between friends, and the mix and matching between FF characters in Quick Play will likely make some fans squeal, but that’s really all that Dissidia has to offer: something for the fans to smile about, but nothing much for anyone else.
The Score
Dissidia is a disappointing title that is hard to recommend to anyone but a die hard fan of the Final Fantasy series. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Dissidia: Final Fantasy Content

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15 Comments
4 years ago
I pretty much agree with your opinions on story mode. I did feel that it got very VERY tedious, even moreso when you have to replay them to get the summons on the board. I also disliked that there is no villain's story mode. I'm hoping Japan's "international" release of this game will have some more content aside from the English voice track.
4 years ago
4 years ago
The story mode made out every character to be too emotional.
4 years ago
Bravery Attacks are assigned to the Circle Button. Not Square.

As for 'combat boils down to button mashing, dodging and blocking, and only the hardcore...' I disagree. If you JUST button mash and hope for the best, no wonder you will die quickly. It's a lot deeper than Super Smash Bro's technicality wise, need to think more of what to do. There is plenty depth to it, when you block a move, your opponent is defenseless for a few moments which allows you to counter. There is a lot of technicality, but like you said, perhaps only the hardcore fighting enthusiasts will want to grasp the more complex mechanics, whereas the noobs will continue to button mash and get frustrated.

How come you didn't discuss Ad-hoc, that's excellent, as well as friend codes, mail box, save battle replays and export them as .avi files onto your PSP, edit the save replays, in-game calendar, unlockables, rewards, museum with character files, moves and music. The amount of content that comes crammed into the UMD is amazing, yet you seemed to miss all those points I've listed above and more. 6 is too harsh, 8 would have been fair.
4 years ago
Ah whoops, I've mapped my Bravery to Square hence the mix up, sorry about that.

Game's got enough depth to get fairly technical, but there's no point, as generally I blitz through this game and most high level chars with just dodges, timed blocks and pressing one or two buttons. No point in being any deeper than that, so I won't take the time icon_razz.gif

Features are nice, but if a game has inconsistent gameplay mechanics then those features don't really mean much. I review a game on its fun factor and accessibility, not its feature list.

Also a fun fact: if you read this review upside down it's a 9!
4 years ago
Denny wrote
Also a fun fact: if you read this review upside down it's a 9!
Had to pull out the big gun early eh? icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
That's not big:



That's big. icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
Point taken icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
Fair enough but shouldn't you review EVERYTHING about the title. Oh wells.
4 years ago
^Two things I'd say to that:

1. Listing EVERYTHING about a game in a review too often (and I've been guilty of this myself in the past) can lead to reviews being crammed with too much. Stupid amounts of text can unnecessarily ensure as a result. Personally, I've tried to focus my reviews on telling readers why a game is good or bad, as opposed to listing features... to varying degrees of success icon_razz.gif

2. I feel that listing all the games features in a review can either come off as a market spiel or can rob the player of the opportunity to discover things for themselves.

You're entitled to believe what you want about reviews, but I'm just giving a different perspective icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
But he left out all the good tidbits. icon_sad.gif
4 years ago
And yet, it'd still only appeal to the blubbering fanbois if he listed everything.

Justified review is justified.
4 years ago
Azza wrote
http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/631049026_Gmwbv-L.jpg
If I were that player, Sephiroth would constantly be getting killed by Terra and Kefka.
4 years ago
shinhawk wrote
If I were that player, Sephiroth would constantly be getting killed by Terra and Kefka.
<3 Kefka.

Yeah, my buddy owns a PSP, that's how I got around to playing it. Love it. icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
Probably the most fun I've had on my PSP alongside Disgaea 2.

Also, I totally don't use Tidus, nope, not at all >.>
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  4/09/2009 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

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