|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
As a Final Fantasy fan, it was hard not to be excited about Dissidia: Final Fantasy. On the surface it sounded like a fan's dream come true: all of the main villains and heroes of the Final Fantasy franchise coming together to duke it out. However, as the game's release got closer and closer, I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the final product.
As much fun as fighting with Final Fantasy characters could be, I wondered how the game would hold hardcore Final Fantasy enthusiasts' attention after a few bouts with their favorite characters. In a series so well-known for creating epic storylines, could a fighting game really leave a lasting impression? However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Dissidia: Final Fantasy incorporates character, gameplay, and even strategy to create more lasting power than just a fight between Cloud and Sephiroth.
However, let's get one thing straight first: this is not a game about story. Although the game does try to incorporate some sort of plot, it's not very deep, and it's pretty much what you would expect from a crossover title that includes characters from 11 different games. Basically, the two gods keeping the world in harmony, Chaos and Cosmos, have been constantly at war to sway the balance of the world to their favor. However, during this epic battle, Cosmos fails, and informs the warrior of light that she must gather other heroes from across the universe to collect crystals to help her put Chaos back in its place. What follows is a self-directed story that allows you to take on the role of your favorite Final Fantasy heroes, as they face familiar foes to gain the crystals that Cosmos so desperately needs to keep the world from ending.
Though the story isn't that deep, the game has some very excellent dialogue. Characters retain their unique personalities, from Tidus' spunky optimism to Cloud's morose attitude. Seeing these larger-than-life personalities interact with one another is a treat indeed for fans, and even though the story is forgettable, the game has plenty of humorous moments and situations that are intended as fan service.
Aside from the memorable character interactions, there are other positives working for Dissidia: Final Fantasy as well. Chief among these is the battle system. While the battle system doesn't have the depth or variety that established franchises like Tekken or SoulCalibur have, Dissidia doesn't do too bad for a first-time fighter, and it certainly nails the basics while adding its own distinctive Final Fantasy flair.
Battles in Dissidia use a two-fold strategic combat system that adds a "bravery" meter to traditional hit points. Each character is able to collect bravery points from the environment or by attacking their opponent with a bravery attack. Collect enough of these bravery points and you'll be able to enter "Ex" mode, which allows your character to change class, use special weapons, and land devastating special attacks.
The bravery system is fairly interesting, as it favors strategy over all-out attacks. In addition to bravery attacks, you can also perform hit attacks, which will damage the other player's hit points, but will not net you any extra bravery points. By using a combination of both bravery and hit attacks, you can unlock your character's potential while causing steady damage to your opponent.
Controls for the game mirror the game's strategic emphasis and are very simple. You use the circle button for bravery attacks and the square button for HP attacks. Both of these types of attacks can be strung together in combo moves and will be enhanced if the player transforms into Ex mode. Although there isn't much to the moves set, the strategic elements keep the game interesting, especially when you are fighting against boss-type enemies that use advanced fighting techniques.
Another element that keeps battles feeling fresh is the fighting environments. The battle areas in Dissidia are quite large, and there are plenty of places where your character can run and hide. You can also lure unsuspecting enemies into traps with collapsible elements. Although there is not that much detail in the various environments, there is still plenty to explore, and there are many ways you can use the size of the environment to your advantage when playing tactically.