Dissidia: Final Fantasy PSP
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
The Final Fantasy series has been phenomenally successful for two decades and has given us some truly memorable characters and storylines. The series has millions of loyal fans who simply can't get enough of the Final Fantasy universe and for these people Dissidia: Final Fantasy will simply be a must have game. That's not to say the game is an RPG however as it's essentially a real time, one-on-one, fighting-based action game with RPG elements. The real reason that Final Fantasy aficionados will love the game is because it's absolutely dripping with characters and enemies from the first ten Final Fantasy RPG's.
The game's Story mode is the heart of the Dissidia. However, the storyline in Dissidia is, uncharacteristically for the Final Fantasy series, disappointing. The story goes that Cosmos, the goddess of harmony, and Chaos, the god of discord have fought seemingly forever. Both control the universe and a balance between the two is essential. The balance has tipped in Chaos' favour however and now it seems as though Cosmos is finally heading for defeat. As a last desperate measure, Cosmos summons ten warriors and asks them to find ten crystals which will enable her to recover from her perilous position. The ten warriors that are summoned are some of the most well known characters from the first ten Final Fantasy games and include: Squall, Cecil, Cloud, Terra, Tidus and Zidane. You'll get to play through the story as told from each characters' perspective. Whilst this does seem like a good idea at first, it does get repetitive and eventually tedious. Thankfully, when you're done with these ten characters' storylines you'll gain access to another entitled Shade Impulse which is both more difficult and more interesting.
In each of the story's ten chapters (one for each hero), you'll fight your way through various levels. In each level you'll move your character in a turn-based fashion across a grid and collect treasures, fight enemies, collect potions and ultimately destroy the Stigma of Chaos to complete the level. In any given level you begin with a set amount of Destiny Points (DP) and you'll use these when you traverse the grid. You aren't compelled to travel all over the grid in most cases so it's possible to get to the end of a grid without having used all of the DP up and should you accomplish this you'll be given rewards for doing so. Of course you may opt to travel out of your way on a grid to collect the treasure chests instead of conserving DPs.
When you confront an enemy on the grid you'll trigger a fight. The fighting system in Dissidia is rather an usual one but it works rather well. This isn't a typical fighting game however so don't expect to have to deal with any Street Fighter type combo systems. Indeed you aren't confined to being on level ground and some attacks can be made midair. In short, you can perform either bravery or conventional attacks. Bravery attacks will steal bravery points from your opponent and conventional attacks (called HP attacks) will deplete your opponent's HP. The twist is that the strength of your attacks is dependent on the amount of bravery points you have so it's in your interest to claim as much of your opponent's bravery points, and prevent them from stealing yours, whenever possible. Of course that's just the barebones of the combat system.
During a battle you can collect EX Cores and EX Force which will fill your EX Gauge. With a full meter you can press the R and square button to enter EX Mode. EX Mode gives the character temporary speed and strength boosts amongst other things. EX attacks are extremely powerful and will even trigger a quick-time event (where you'll have to press the appropriate buttons or perform the correct options to complete the attack). When a Summonstone is equipped, characters can also perform a Summons (a powerful creature that can be called temporarily into battle) and each of the available summons will have a different effect on the course of a battle (they don't actually fight for you as in the RPG's however). If that wasn't enough there are also wall runs, flying leaps and grinds that can be performed during a battle. The extent to which you can customise each character and the amount of characters on offer that each have their own unique moves, abilities and fighting styles really does add a lot to the experience.
As we mentioned earlier, the game does have a fair amount of RPG elements. The game's playable characters can be levelled-up. You can also equip them with various accessories, armour and equipment that you'll either acquire during the game's story or purchase from the shop. You'll even get to choose which land and air abilities can be used during the course of the battle and select your preferred Summons and EX Burst attacks. The amount of things you can customise is truly impressive and really adds to the game's appeal. The game even includes an in-game email system, called Mognet, and you'll receive various emails with gifts for you to use. There are other modes in the game too. In addition to the rather large Story mode there's also an Arcade mode, a Quick Battle mode and an Ad-Hoc multiplayer mode (which we didn't experience as we only had a single copy of the game at hand). The Arcade mode essentially gives you a series of five consecutive battles to play through whereas the Quick Battle mode allows you to configure a battle against an AI opponent.
The game's presentation is exceptional and even the various screens on the in-game user's manual feature many characters from the Fantasy Games. Graphically the game is excellent and the character models in particular are really impressive. The battles are in full 3D arenas and you are free to move about in these arenas. If you've played any 3D fighting games you'll know that camera angles can be a problem and that is the case in Dissidia and at times your view of the action can be less than ideal. Thankfully though, the camera angle problems are restricted to fighting in confined spaces and in quite a lot of the arenas there are no problems at all in this respect. The loading times in Dissidia can be annoying. That's not to say the load times are overly long, especially when compared to some of the early PSP games, but you'll be looking at a loading screen for longer than you'd like to be. Thankfully you can install data to your memory stick to shorten the load times. You're given a choice of three install sizes (246, 395 and 584MB) so most games should at least be able to install some content and reduce the load times to some extent.
Dissidia won't cause deaf gamers any problems. You'll be able to follow the game's storyline thanks to the game's cutscenes being subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. During the cutscenes the subtitles have no character portraits or names next to the dialogue but at other times you will see character portraits accompanying the dialogue to make it clear who is speaking. All of the game's tutorial messages are in text so you'll have no problems in getting to grips with the game. In fact all of the essential information in the game is in text and deaf gamers will be able to fully appreciate what Dissidia has to offer.
In terms of the content on offer, Dissidia is one heck of an impressive game. Whilst a fighting game isn't something that will appeal to all Final Fantasy fans, the game blends enough Final Fantasy qualities into the experience to make it well worth the effort. The fighting itself is actually quite straightforward and easy to get to grips with meaning you don't have to be a dab hand at fighting games in order to appreciate the game. It's not perfect by any means. The load times, camera issues and poor storyline are definitely unfortunate. That said, the game does an awful lot right and deserves to be regarded as one of the best games to appear on the PSP for a long time. Most Final Fantasy fans and those who appreciate solid fighting games should definitely consider putting Dissidia: Final Fantasy on their wish list.