|Dev: Square Enix|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: March 22, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
2009's Dissidia: Final Fantasy was an impressive title. Sure, marrying the many worlds of Final Fantasy with a strategy-based fighting game sounds like a good idea on paper, but we all know executing a crazy idea like that can have its pitfalls. But Square Enix really impressed me with the overall quality and depth of the original Dissidia. How could they top that with Duodecim? The answer is surprisingly simple: by adding new characters, tweaking the battle system, and giving fans even more content. Duodecim improves upon its predecessor in almost every way possible, and though it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it certainly represents quite the evolutionary leap forward for the series.
The game's story mode is again the focus of the game, and unfortunately, the story itself falls prey pretty quickly to the amnesia trope that is so common in crossover stories: all the Final Fantasy All-Stars have been gathered by the forces of Cosmos and Chaos into this other dimension, and none of them remember who they were previously. Since they are all strangers, and have no memories of their pasts, they fight for their chosen side to gain ultimate power and a one-way ticket back to the world they (don't) know.
The story smacks of poorly-written fan-fiction, but realistically I don't think anyone expected anything else. Getting all of these characters together in a way that makes perfect sense within the Final Fantasy universe is an impossible feat, and considering the constraints of the series, I think the story works well enough. Although the plot itself is flimsier than Vaan's mini-vest, the dialogue between the characters (who retain their personalities despite losing their memories) is extremely well-written, and includes plenty of clever nods to each character's respective series that fans are sure to appreciate.
Though the story is a bit of a disappointment, the improvements made to the actual story mode are actually very impressive. Instead of taking place on a stoic grid-based stage, the game has a huge world map rich with areas to explore, lots of hidden treasure, random enemy encounters, and unlockable skills littered across the landscape. Duodecim places particular importance on leveling up your characters and outfitting them with plenty of gear, and it throws plenty of skills and equipment your way in the first few hours of gameplay. Though it can feel a little overwhelming when you are managing your team at first, the learning curve evens out eventually, and it's easy to settle in to Duodecim for the long haul.