Usually quite predictable with the naming of their games, Square Enix have taken a new approach with the sequel to 2009’s Dissidia Final Fantasy. Dissidia 012 [Duodecim]: Final Fantasy is another one-on-one fighting spin-off of the successful RPG series. Full of fan service, characters from across the series and menus that reflect the games they appeared in, 012 hits all of the same points of interest that the original did. But is it an improvement, or simply more of the same?
Dissidia is a new take on the RPG series, with random battles replaced by one-on-one encounters more akin to a beat ’em up. The main purpose of the game is to recreate those battles you wish could happen, like FFVII’s Sephiroth vs IX’s Kuja to see who the better villain is, or Squall vs Cloud; the battles that fans can only imagine seeing in a main game. Inspired by the aerial combat seen in mini-movie FVII: Advent Children, this is flashy, explosive combat and is always impressive on the PSP.
All the characters in the first game, along with the story mode, return for 012, with the character count increasing by nine. FFXIII lead Lightning was the most obvious choice from Sqaure-Enix, and she spends most of 012 Dissidia as the central character. The story mode plot is as over the top as it was last time, with Final Fantasy heroes joining forces without much mention of the fact they appear in completely different universes. That said, some of the new faces are especially welcome, from obscure fan favourite Laguna from FFVIII, to the actual lead of FFX, Yuna. It’s always enjoyable to see all of these legendary heroes in one title, even if the idea may be lost on more casual fans of the series.
The biggest change that those who played the original will notice, is the addition of a world map to both the new and older campaign. You explore an open plain in between each ‘chapter’ where you move your character across a board of enemies and treasure chests. This open area is also home to battles too, keeping the action coming while you move through the campaign. This change makes a big difference to the pacing of the game and it makes it feel much more like a regular RPG than a series of separate fights. In this way, Square-Enix have produced a much more enjoyable and complete experience, and so even those who have played the original to death should play through this.
The battle system in the original Dissidia was highly praised for being as energetic and flowing as possible, and the same is the case here. By hitting your foe with Bravery attacks, executed with the circle button, you can get them to enter their Break state, where all your regular attacks deal huge damage. This back and forth makes for battles that can become much more tactical than a regular fighting game, with the new addition of assist characters making it even more important to stay on your toes. Dissidia is a blueprint for how to add these action elements to an RPG, as while the game still contains vast amounts of numbers and stats for you to manage, this never gets in the way of the main point of the game; seeing your favourite heroes battle it out.
And with this, the conclusion I’ve come to with Dissidia 012 [Duodecim]: Final Fantasy is that, much like its predecessor, this is a game made for true fans. Though any PSP owner can enjoy the explosive combat and impressive graphics, those who aren’t familiar with the stars of Dissidia are missing the point. From the menus that correspond to each heroes specific Final Fantasy game, to the soundtrack taken from the best tunes of the series, this is the ultimate piece of fan service from Square Enix. As it is, Dissidia 012 [Duodecim]: Final Fantasy stands tall as one of the last great PSP games before the move to PS Vita in the coming months.
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