Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Review



Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final FantasyGood evening, ladies and gentlemen, J. Wellington Rommefeller here. Years ago, the announcement of a fighting game featuring characters from Final Fantasy excited and intrigued me. The trailers promised fights similar to those seen in the films Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The question of how they would execute this type of fighting downright baffled me until I had an opportunity to play Dissidia: Final Fantasy for myself.   Initially, I was quite intimidated by how many controls I would have to memorize, but that feeling quickly fled as the control mechanisms soon became second nature. Fifteen minutes into the game I was batting baddies out of the air with nary a concern. I never finished the game, but upon hearing of a sequel, I resolved myself to continue in Square-Enix’s fighting experiment. Some months later, I loaded the sequel, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, into my PSP and nestled in for an evening of high-flying fighting. Would this sequel meet my lofty expectations?  Or would I find myself sipping brandy whilst listening to the melody of “Dissidia in an Incinerator” in D minor?
 
Good:
The graphics, as with any Final Fantasy title, are about as fetching as they come. Square has built an empire based on beautiful people in silly costumes, and that tradition does not conclude here. The introduction cut-scene alone is a sure credit to what the PSP can really do when pushed to its graphical limits. The visuals within the game are also quite impressive for a handheld console. Actions are fluid and the frame rate skips not a beat. I personally hoped Square would have stepped up their game in the graphics department since the last Dissidia, however with some of the best visuals on the console, I suppose their men were put to better use elsewhere.

The story mode has been improved to some extent in that it is more linear and more dependent upon new characters. In each chapter, you play as a new character who reveals their part of the storyline, with each character working toward a common final goal. In the original, this story was multiplied many times over, as you had to play through the game with every character in order to reveal the full story. I preferred Dissidia 012’s chapter system and not be burdened by the monotony of leveling up so many characters.

Bad:
The game is really nothing more than a grand scale DLC of the original, not unlike Fallout: New Vegas was to Fallout 3. At its core, Fallout: New Vegas had identical controls, game engine, and concepts to Fallout 3, but with new added features and an entirely new story.   I bought the full-priced Dissidia 012 expecting what I had come to expect from New Vegas. I quickly learned the difference between the two situations is that Fallout: New Vegas was simply more fun than Dissidia 012, and therefore worth the price tag. The more I played Dissidia 012, the more I came to remember why I never finished the original: it’s bloody boring, and there’s little reward for your hard work! In my experience, Square games have a history of becoming monotonous for a time in order to allow for tension building and to dumbfound you later with a smashing story and even more plot details. Dissidia, however, seems to break from this formula by including only the monotony, foregoing the story in order to beat you over the head with messages about love and friendship. Had I a desire to play a preachy game in which I learn grade-school life lessons, I’d play Final Fantasy XIII. Hold on, no I wouldn’t, that game was a catastrophe as well. I’d play Kingdom Hearts; at least its gameplay is entertaining and the sanctimonious morals are expected of a Disney tie-in.

The new features that differentiate the sequel from the original are few and far between. A new world map concept was introduced in which your character may run about between battles, effectively giving you a break from the mind-numbingly repetitive fights. Other paltry offerings include allowing a partner to assist a la Marvel vs. Capcom and expanding the EX Mode system. In Dissidia, EX Mode is the equivalent of the “limit break” construct in other Final Fantasies. In Dissidia 012, not only can you unleash a devastating attack, you can disable your opponent for a short time. 



These meager additions hardly warrant an entirely new game. If I’m going to pay full price for a game that’s almost identical to its predecessor, it bloody well better have features in it that don’t look to have taken a weekend to add in.

It seems the theme of my complaints has been the lack of fun in the gameplay, and that has to deal largely with the fighting system. When first introduced in Final Fantasy: Dissidia, the fighting mechanics were unique, interesting, and a splendid draw. However, as one uses these mechanics again and again, fight after fight, you slowly come to realize that you’d rather be drubbed with a silver-tipped cane than enter yet another blasted battle. Every fight seems identical to the last, which was identical to the one before it and so on and so forth. Don’t take this amiss, some of the brawls are indeed tense and the sense of accomplishment tangible, but all too often I found myself utterly exasperated by the thought of engaging in yet another boring fight. Worst of all, the skirmishes serve only to progress a terrible story that I just can’t bring myself to give two hoots about.   Rather than expediently moving on to the next area, I oft caught myself wondering just how much lighter fluid would be required to set the game’s plastic casing alight. 

Verdict: 



I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone other than those with a desperate but inexplicable need to try Dissidia. The sequel’s feature set is slightly larger than that of the original and it actually includes the entire first game as a secret. If you already own the original, perish the thought of wasting your money on the sequel.   Dissidia 012 is nearly identical to the first Dissidia, but the quirk and novelty have worn off to reveal yet another dull, lifeless game shoved hastily onto the market. I shall forever remain a Square-Enix fan, however their most recent games have my slender, attractive neck tie in quite a fiendish knot.

Until next time, I’m J. Wellington Rommefeller and I hope your most recent gaming exploits have been more satisfying than my own. 

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