In 2009 I began working with Mrs B on her website FemaleGamers reviewing the latest console games. Sadly, our other commitments meant the website couldn’t continue and we brought it to an end early in 2010. I’ll be using this blog to review all the games, recent and not so recent, that I encounter. With Mrs B’s kind permission, I’ll also be posting some of the reviews I previously worked on, so don’t panic if they refer to previous years and months.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP) (2009)
With Dissidia, Square Enix have taken the Final Fantasy series away from its RPG roots to focus purely on fighting. Anxious Final Fantasy fans may fear this was a mistake but rest assured this is another jewel in Square Enix’s prestigious crown.
Rival gods, Cosmos and Chaos, try to end their long-standing war by gathering warriors from across the ages to fight an epic battle. The warriors in question are characters from across the Final Fantasy series, including Cecil, Terra, Cloud and Squall on the side of Cosmos and Golbez, Sephiroth, Kuja and Jecht fighting for Chaos. In this war it is evil that prevails with Chaos gaining the upper hand and destroying the balance of the world. The weakened Cosmos is left to call upon ten surviving warriors to help her try and defeat Chaos once and for all.
The battle system in Dissidia is based on HP (hit points) and Bravery (character’s strength). The object is to reduce your opponent’s HP to 0 to defeat them. The value of a character’s Bravery determines how damaging their attacks will be, for example if your Bravery level is 500 your opponent’s HP reduces by 500 with a successful strike. Each character begins with a small amount of Bravery and need to augment this to gain the upper hand over their opponent. The fastest way to victory is to steal your rival’s Bravery (Bravery attack) to enhance your own before immediately reducing their HP (HP attack). Your characters also rely on their EX Gauge which slowly builds during battle and once full allows them to enter EX Mode and launch devastating attacks that increase the chance of, if not guarantee, victory. As well as engaging your opponent you can interact with your surroundings by scaling buildings and mountainsides, racing along narrow ledges and railings, avoiding traps that sap your Bravery level and slamming your foes against walls. As you progress you will encounter the added headache of your surroundings changing mid-battle and forcing you to rethink your strategy.
Of the four battle modes in Dissidia it is Story Mode that is the most memorable. Beginning with a breathtaking intro showing the warriors of Cosmos and Chaos facing off against each other, Story Mode quickly enters the Prologue where you play the Warrior of Light. You are faced with a makeshift board similar to chess where your character must be moved from one end to the other, obtaining items and fighting battles against rival pieces before destroying your target – Stigma of Chaos – to progress to the next level. After the Prologue you can choose between ten characters fighting for Cosmos who set out on individual paths to obtain one of ten crystals that will help defeat Chaos and restore balance to the world. These scenarios are called Destiny Odyssey and vary in difficulty as you guide each character through five levels before facing a tough boss battle at the end. Stunning cut scenes divide the levels as your characters face their fears and question their worth during their individual pursuits. After Destiny Odyssey the characters’ separate stories weave together and play out in the second half called Shade Impulse as they step up their war against Chaos. To enhance your characters you will be able to equip stronger weapons, armour, accessories to boost stats, summon stones (for celestial aid in battle), abilities and learn new skills as you progress.
Dissidia also offers Arcade mode where your character faces five fights in a row. For those who want to get straight into the action this is the best option, ensuring you don’t have to worry about weapons, armour and abilities. Although you have access to twenty characters in Arcade mode you do not gain any experience or improve your warriors in any way. Quick Battle allows you to customise your own battles choosing everything from the venue to the strength of your opponent. Only 10 characters are available when you first play with more to unlock as you gain experience. Finally, Communications Mode allows you to connect to other PSP users to engage in your own personal duels.
Aside from the four battle modes, Dissidia offers further options that are well worth exploring. The PP Catalog allows you to spend PP gathered in battle to unlock Chaos characters for use in Quick Battle, access new costumes, voice data, cut scenes and other bonuses. Mognet gives you access to a calendar where your character’s stats can improve dramatically dependent on what day of the week you are playing Dissidia! There is also the Museum option, which allows you to view character info, cut scenes, battle records and even replay your proudest feats on the battlefield.
If there is one drawback to Dissidia it is the endless array of Tutorials, which although helpful, appear frequently and mean you have a lot of information to take in. The battles themselves are tricky to begin with and there will be occasions when you wonder if you will ever grasp them. The best advice, as always, is to be patient and keep playing. After a while you will find things starting to make sense and when that happens Dissidia becomes an absolute joy to play. Story Mode can be difficult at times but if you find you’re struggling then simply play as the same character in Quick Battle and build up experience to make yourself stronger.
Dissidia makes excellent use of the PSP’s capabilities, delivering a visual treat of stunning graphics and fantastic cut scenes. With a wealth of modes to play and bonuses to unlock this will last you for months. Hats off to Square Enix, is there anything they can’t do?
Final Score: 87%
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