Final Fantasy Dissidia for the PSP was Square Enix’s love letter to its fans who eagerly wanted to assume the role of a Final Fantasy hero or villain in a game that features the ageless fight between good and evil. Released in 2009, the game was met with generally favourable reviews and after a short wait, Square Enix has now returned with its anticipated sequel, Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy.
The game tells the story of the endless battle between Chaos and Cosmo in the twelfth cycle with both sides summoning warriors to their cause. This time around, Cosmo has called for the help of six new heroes that include Lightning, Tifa, Vaan, Laguna and Kain. The band of heroes fight against a relentless army known as the Manikins who threaten the very balance of the eternal struggle between Chaos and Cosmo. For the most part, the story feels dull and highly predictable at select points that leave you focusing more on constant duels as the game progresses.
Battles continue the traditional of one-on-one combat against your opponent. Bravery and HP attacks are vital to defeating the enemy with movement, guarding and dodging being your standard steps to a solid victory. As the name suggests, bravery attacks do not inflict damage but lower both you and your enemy’s bravery levels in battle. They also serve to increase your attack power if you inflict the Bravery Break status on your foe. HP attacks are simply attacks to deal damage and pummel your enemy into submission.
When your Ex gauge is full, you receive not only a boost in Ex Mode but also the ability to unleash Ex attacks or Ex Revenge. If you perform a regular HP attack in Ex Mode, you’ll unleash a very powerful attack on an unsuspecting enemy. In the event you are attacked while executing this move, you’ll be able to use Ex Revenge, a technique that slows your enemy’s movements considerably which gives you a chance to strike back strategically.
A new feature known as the Assist Attack allows you to call upon your allies to aid you in the heat of the battle to either strike or defend your character. The Assist gauge is filled through the use of Bravery attacks for which one block is required when enlisting the help of a fellow team member. Be warned that if your ally is hit unexpectedly, the Assist gauge will be temporarily disabled, leaving you to fend for yourself. If an enemy is pummelling you in battle, you can use Assist Change to call an ally and to escape from trouble.
You are able to roam the world map in traditional RPG fashion while conversing with your teammates and travelling to your next destination. You will encounter enemies on the field, find treasure chests and be able to purchase items at shops across the continent. You’ll encounter both red and blue gateways: the first being story missions necessary to advance the story whereas the latter represents additional side quests. Each of the gateways has conditions that must be fulfilled prior to you advancing further into the game.
A Communications mode is available to exchange friend cards or compete directly online via the wireless mode. Other extras include the ability to transport your data to use an existing character from the original game and to view exclusive artifacts.
Visually, the cutscenes are impressive and the character designs polished. The same cannot be said for the voices as the dialogue falls flat on the delivery with the characters sounding monotonous, indifferent or very pretentious. The soundtrack is exactly what fans expect with lots of tunes and tributes paid to the roster of heroes, heroines and villains.
Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy is a better game than the original with its refined gameplay mechanics and battle system. Though the story leaves much to be desired, Square has addressed many of the problems from the original game by giving fans more of what they want. A feeling of déjà vu still exists but Square has managed to keep things fresh with Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy, which is a worthy game for series’ veterans and fans.