Dissidia Final Fantasy

Review

posted 9/29/2009 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
This isn't one of those games where you're constantly next to your opponent trading fisticuffs.  You are not locked to the ground in Dissidia.  Instead they give you a gigantic level full of floating platforms to stand on and wind patterns that you can grind.  You can double jump into the air, then rush towards your foe, double jump again and repeat the pattern until you're as high up into the sky as you can be.  Just like the movies, physics play no part in this Final Fantasy game.  You can run straight up vertical buildings, fly through the air like a bird and get knocked  halfway across a level with one hit.  Heck, you don't even have to worry about falling off of the level; the game will simply warp you back to safety.  

The combat in Dissidia: Final Fantasy isn't like Street Fighter or Soul Calibur, it's more like Zone of the Enders and Virtual On.  But even that comparison is flawed, since the way you inflict damage is unlike anything I've ever seen in a fighting game.  The idea is that you have two attack buttons, one that inflicts damage (the "Square" button) and another that fills up your attack meter (the "O" button).  The meter in question adds up "Bravery Points," a number that correlates to the amount of damage you can inflict with any one attack.  The idea is to use your "O" button to add up a lot of Bravery Points and then unleash them all using the "Square" button.  But be warned, your enemy is looking to do exactly the same thing.

I won't lie to you; this style of combat is perplexing at first.  For two decades I've been programmed to believe that when I hit somebody it should take damage.  But that's not the case with this game.  And the more I played it the more I discovered the system's nuance.  I found that destroying objects in the level and dodging attacks all influenced my Bravery number.  I discovered that I had to do more than increase my number; I also had to make sure and decrease my opponent's possible attack.  All while I flew through the air dodging fireballs.

While the combat is constantly changing and always interesting, it's only half of what makes Dissidia: Final Fantasy so impressive.  Because it's an extension of the influential Final Fantasy series, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Dissidia is actually a role-playing game in disguise.  It's true, the game has all of the trappings of a standard Final Fantasy game.  The game is all about leveling up your favorite characters (up to level 99), finding brand new weapons and armor, buying new items in the shop, battling weaker characters for money and even summoning powerful creatures to help you win battles.  Everything you know and love about Final Fantasy is included in this crazy fighting game.

The story mode starts you with ten missions featuring the  ten main heroes.  Once you've beaten a few of these missions you will unlock the second half of the game, the infinitely more interesting Shade Impulse levels.  Here you can take any hero and expand the story into bigger and more interesting areas.  If the first mission got you to level 15, Shade Impluse is there to take you the rest of the way.  And best of all, you'll likely want to go through it multiple times with all of the characters.

It's not just that every character in Dissidia is different, that's something you can get in ANY fighting game.  What sets this game apart is the level of control you have over each character.  The game gives you access to all of the weapons and armor, so that you can buy and sell items and improve your characters stats.  You also get to assign attributes, which can drastically change what kind of moves your character can pull off.  You also have a large list of moves (which can be earned as you level up) that you can assign at just about any time.  The way you develop your character is completely up to you.

The idea of controlling your own destiny seems to be an on-running theme in this game.  Each level is played on what looks like a large board game.   Each level generates a series of encounters, treasure chests and the all-important exit.  How you complete each level is entirely up to you.  There's an incentive for taking the quickest route to the exit, since you will earn valuable rewards for saving turns.  However, you can forgo the rewards and take on everybody in the level and earn experience, money and loot.  The choice is yours.
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