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The “Dissidia Final Fantasy” series functions much the same way “Super Smash Bros.” does for Nintendo. In “Dissidia,” fan favorite Final Fantasy heroes and villains are brought together to battle each other in a crossover fighting game. In “Dissidia 012” (the “012” in the title is read as “duodecim”) is the prequel to the original “Dissidia.” Though many of the flaws of the first game are left unaddressed, a bevy of new features and an astounding amount of new content make this prequel worth picking up for PSP owners.

“Dissidia” is not technically what one would consider a good, solid fighting game. The game lacks depth in certain areas of combat, the camera is far from ideal, and the controls are unintuitive. In spite of this, the game can be extremely fun.

“Dissidia” is essentially a hybrid of a fighting game and a role-playing game. All of the game’s characters can be leveled up and outfitted with their own armor and accessories. Furthermore, players can even choose what abilities and attacks each character has. While it leads to imbalanced fights more often than not, this also gives players a sense of ownership over their characters not typically found in other fighting games.

There are two types of attacks in the game: bravery and HP attacks. Using bravery attacks raises your own bravery while lowering your opponent’s. HP attacks subtract the amount of bravery you have from your opponent’s HP. In other words, battles in “Dissidia” often revolve around building up your bravery to deal damage to your foe.

The depth in the game comes from trying to figure out what your opponent will do and then getting the position and timing correct for your counterattack to succeed. At the game’s best, fights are thrilling affairs with a decent tug-of-war between combatants accentuated by the glorious soundtrack and absurdly flashy special effects. On the other hand, unbalanced matchups are often won in a matter of seconds and are completely unsatisfying or downright frustrating, depending on what side you are on. Luckily the game showers you in new content constantly; new songs, stages, characters, weapons, items and more all constantly serve to keep you happily addicted.

“Dissidia 012” adds quite a few new things to the basic formula, which results in a smoother overall experience. For starters, there is a new assist gauge which allows you to call in another character to help you out in battle. This adds a new dimension of depth that was missing from the first game, but the fighting can still become monotonous.

A more significant improvement is the introduction of new characters to the roster. The first game boasted the 10 heroes and villains from the first 10 “Final Fantasy” games along with two secret characters. From the start of “Dissidia 012,” six more characters are available such as Lightning from “Final Fantasy XIII” and Tifa from “Final Fantasy VII.” These new characters have unique move sets to help them stand out. For example, Laguna from “Final Fantasy VIII” is armed with a machine gun and focuses on range attacks while Kain from “Final Fantasy IV” constantly changes his opponent’s vertical positioning with his signature lance and jump attacks.

The main story mode has seen a drastic overhaul between games. While some of the grid-based progression carries over from the first game, most of it now takes place in a 3-D recreation of the world from the first Final Fantasy. The new world map adds a great deal of structure to the “Dissidia” universe that was missing the first time.

I was pleased with the more dramatic flair given to the story this time around. The story isn’t great, but the new presentation in the camera shots, stronger voice acting, and a break away from the formulaic structure of the first game’s story results in a better overall experience. Also enjoyable are the new “Reports” section of story mode which is composed of brief side-story campaigns. The entire 50-hour campaign of the original game, aided by “Duodecim’s” improvements, is included as well which ultimately gives you an astounding amount of content and value.

One particular feature that came as a complete surprise was the new Creation Mode that lets players create quests. The interface is so intuitive and well-structured that one should have no problem creating cutscenes and battle setups like those found in the main game. The ease of use speaks volumes to how amazing it is. This is a great feature due to its flexibility and also how well it fits given Final Fantasy’s RPG roots.

While it is a shame Square Enix decided to do nothing to really address the failures with the first game, “Dissidia 012” is still a game that is more than the sum of its parts. It is still not technically a good fighting game, and the story is still weak overall, but it is nevertheless a really fun game with an absurd amount of content. Whether or not you are a fan of “Final Fantasy,” “Dissidia 012” is a great PSP game.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

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