Review by Yami_no_Geimu
"The game feels incomplete."
This is a prequel to the original game Dissidia by RPG titan Square-Enix. Dissidia was a fan-service game with a premise that the main villain and the main hero from each of the first ten main Final Games would come together in a battle between good and evil. After Final Fantasy X, things started getting more complicated when it comes to the basic faculty of hero vs. villain. Final Fantasy XI was an MMO, and Final Fantasy XII was a little controversial as to who really was the main character of the game. Anyway, they decided to shoehorn in two NPCs from XI and XII as hidden characters which didn't make much sense, but there you have it. Anyway, my main gripe with this prequel is this: Now that they've dropped the rule of one hero and one villain from each game, they've had an opportunity to add other popular and relevant characters from each game. They seemed to have dropped the ball on this. The main purpose of this game is fan service. However square has decided to service only some fans of the series judging by the new characters they chose to add to the game. And the characters they chose to leave out. More on this later
As for the battle mechanics, they are pretty much the same as the original Dissidia. The main mechanic is that you attack your opponent with Brave attacks, which basically sap their Brave and increase your own. This does not affect HP. Then when you deem your brave to be high enough, you can perform an HP attack, which does damage to your opponents HP equal to your amount of Brave. There are also EX-Bursts which are basically the characters' special attacks, like the limit breaks from Final Fantasy VII and VIII or the Overdrives from Final Fantasy X. There is one new mechanic they added called the Assist which summons another character for a few seconds to perform an HP attack on your opponent. I found this to be very redundant and overall, little more than a minor annoyance when used against me. I never bother using them. The move sets are also lacking in diversity. It's reminiscent of a Pokemon game, where you can only have a few moves at a time. The buttons aren't even customizable like in most fighting games. I suppose it's understandable, seeing as how there are also a lot of data-consuming RPG elements in the game. There is a lot of equipment available, and the best moves can only be learned by leveling up. Personally I disagree with this hybrid development. They should have decided to make it either a pure fighting game or an RPG, because fighting + RPG isn't really an ideal mix. If they dropped some of that RPG element maybe they would have been able to have greater move sets. Or maybe if they had dropped some of that fighting element and made it more of an Action RPG, there'd be room for more characters. I mean it's like because of this mix, a lot of important things are missing while unnecessary things like a 3d world map are added.
Now let's move on to the most important part of the game, the characters. After all, as a fan service fighting game, the main appeal here is to have our favorite characters from the Final Fantasy series pitted against each other in a battle of superiority. Unfortunately the game feels incomplete, because too many characters are missing, while unnecessary characters were added. It seems that Aerith, for example, is only available as an Assist. I found this to be quite disturbing seeing as how I have no need for the Assist function. Yet many of us were eager to have her in the game an actual playable character. It's like they added her only as an Assist to force you to use this redundant function just to get a glimpse of her in action. On top of that, she is a DLC, so you have to pay extra just to have her as an assist. It seems like a bit of trickery. Let's look at another example. We have three characters for Final Fantasy V and VII and yet only one for XIII. The most appealing character in Final Fantasy XIII was obviously Sazh, yet for some reason they didn't add him at all. Yet they add characters like Gilgamesh and Prishe. It doesn't make any sense.
The story isn't really that important in a fighting game, and personally I didn't pay that much attention to it. In the first Dissidia I played, the little that I did pay attention to was immediately a turn off due to the poor voice acting, so I ended up skipping most of the cut scenes. Here, the voice acting hasn't improved at all. Lightning's voice actor is probably the most horrific of all, and there is a strong urge to put the sound on mute when playing with her.
The aesthetics of the game are quite nice. The music is very good, and we have remixes and recycled classics by Nobuo Uematsu, as well as some new songs which are pretty decent in their own right. The graphics are top notch for the PSP, although I feel the game would have been better off on a non-handheld console like the PS3. They would have probably been able to put more content into the game that way, and popular options like Japanese audio with English subtitles. Perhaps they could have replaced the manikins, clones of the characters, with real monsters from the series like Malboros or Cactaurs. Fighting the same manikins over and over tended to get old very fast in Dissidia, and that hasn't really changed in Duodecim. More importantly, perhaps they would have been able to add more characters.
Overall, the main story takes around 30 hours to beat and it's not really something you want to go through again. Like I said, the main appeal is in fighting against friends with your favorite characters. However your favorite characters may not even be present. Therein lies the problem. Chances are you're not playing this game for its Oscar-winning dialogue. So where is the replay value? Why would people want to play it again if they only get to see their favorite character as an Assist, if they're lucky? Furthermore, before we even call into question whether the game itself has replay value, we need to think about whether the first game has replay value because that is basically what this game feels like, a remake of the first one with a few extra characters and add-ons.
So before one decides to buy this game, they should think about whether remakes, expansion packs or things of that nature appeal to them, because this game lies somewhere in that vein. It is not a Dissidia 2. One should find out beforehand whether their favorite characters were added. All in all, it's fun for a small while. Then all the missing parts become all too apparent and can no longer be ignored. After borrowing the game from a friend and playing for it more than a week, I felt that it wasn't worth spending money on. You see, I had already played and gotten bored with the first Dissidia a year ago, it doesn't feel like there's anything truly new about this one, and it is lacking my favorite characters. I'm probably not alone in that my characters are missing, which means fans aren't being serviced, and this is not serving its original purpose as a fan service game.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/11
Game Release: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (US, 03/22/11)
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