Review by LEZARFD2K7
"Another great game in Square's 2011 PSP Lineup - 8/10"
2011 seems to be Square's year for the PSP. Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve, and Legend of Mana have released as PS1 Classics and for PSP Hardware, there's Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix (JP), Lord of Arcana, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, The 3rd Birthday, Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection, and Dissidia 012.
Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy (also called Duodecim, which is Latin for "twelve") is Square's pre-sequel to 2009's RPG-fighter crossover, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, which took 22 characters from the Final Fantasy universe and threw them into a 3D Action RPG-like Fighting Game. 012 takes what the original started and adds a lot onto it. Fans of the original and of the FF franchise will have plenty to do with 012.
Story - 7.5/10
If you've played the original, you know that the story revolves around a world that goes through constant cycles of war between two deities: Cosmos, the Goddess of Harmony and Chaos, God of Discord, who summon legendary warriors to do their bidding. The original game's story had 10 heroes, 10 villains, and showcased storylines for each hero, guiding them to a crystal containing the power to fight against the God of Discord.
The original's story took place in the 13th cycle of war between the two deities, and 012 chronicles the 12th cycle. Adding onto the already sizable roster are 6 new heroes. To balance this out, three old heroes are now on the side of Chaos: Terra Branford, Cloud Strife, and Tidus. 012 mainly focuses on the journeys of the 6 new characters.
Apart from the 012 scenario, the game also includes two unlockable scenarios. The first of these is Cycle 013, a remake of the original's storyline, and a new scenario called "Confessions of the Creator", which outlines events that happen after the 21st cycle. As you progress through these, you also unlock Reports, which contain more cutscenes and battle scenarios throughout the entire saga. With all of this, it can easily take you 40-50 hours to complete all of the story segments of this game.
It is well known that the story of the original game was not as accepted as the stories of other Final Fantasy games. While 012's story is not great, it is a step up from the original. Many of the characters are personifications of how they were in their original games, rather than broken down to a cliché, as most of the characters were in the original. Some of them even have their memories from their original worlds.
I give Story a 7.5 for improving on the original, but still not living up to the legendary name of "Final Fantasy".
Gameplay - 9/10
Gameplay of Dissidia 012 is mostly the same as the original. You are still running around in sizable 3D arenas, going at it mano-a-mano with an opponent. You still have all of your RPG elements, like leveling up, equipping abilities, and synthesizing equipment to power up your characters. However, 012 has added a sizable amount of twists and turns to make things more interesting.
The one big thing the game adds to the mix is variety. The 9 new characters (6 for the story, 3 unlockable) offer very diverse playstyles. You go from Lightning's Paradigm Shifts to a barrage of bullets from Laguna's machine gun. Not one of the new characters plays anything like any of the others.
Along with these characters, there have been 7 new stages added to the game, showcasing locations such as the Phantom Train from FFVI and Empyreal Paradox from FFXI: Chains of Promathia.
As with most Fighting Game sequels, several tweaks and additions were made to the abilities of the original 22 characters. Almost every character gained at least one new attack, and every character had some changes made to some of their existing attacks. Most notable is that Shantotto and Emperor are much more formidable than before.
The most notable addition is called the "Assist System". You can equip an Assist Character to the character you're fighting with and you gain Assist energy as you attack your opponent. Once half the Assist bar is full, you can summon your Assist Character to attack your opponent. This makes battle a lot more interesting. Not only do you have to worry about what you're opponent is doing, but also have to be on the lookout for assist attacks that come out of nowhere.
Story progression has also seen some changes. The Destiny Odyssey "chess board" gameplay has been tweaked so that it progresses much faster. Apart from that, you have an entire Overworld Map to explore in true RPG fashion, which is sure to bring nostalgia to fans of the franchise. On this map (which is based on the Final Fantasy I world map), you can run around to collect treasure chests, attack orbs to gain skills, and have random encounters with enemies.
The world map is where the new "Party System" is utilized. In certain scenarios, you make a party of 5 characters and all explore the map together. When in battle, you can fight with all 5 party members. If someone gets KO'd, the next member can resume the battle for them. When you win fights in "Party Mode", all 5 characters gain experience. It's literally like training 5 characters at once.
Also on the world map are gateways, which you must unlock to proceed further through the world map. Unlocking these gateways takes you to a Destiny Board. Upon clearing the board, you earn KP (used to buy Equipment, Summons, and Skills from Moogle Shops) and are returned to the overworld to explore more of the map. This new gameplay is also present in the revamped 013 scenario.
I will also talk quickly about new gameplay modes for the game. In Battle Mode, you have 2 versions of Quick Battle, 1-on-1 and Party Battle. Both of these are customizable battles with opponents, except Party Battle consists of using a 5-member party against a 5-member party.
Arcade Mode is still here from the original game, and the Duel Colosseum has been transformed into Labyrinth, which has you fighting battles and exploring a huge Labyrinth, where you can enter and exit as you wish. You can also set up cottages or tents so you don't lose some of the items you gain here.
Lastly is one major thing the original game did not have: Downloadable Content (DLC). Square has promised a boatload of DLC for this game, which consists of new costumes and music tracks. They have promised at least one costume for each characters, and have started sending out 3-track music packs for each game.
Graphics - 8/10
The visual presentation of this game is nothing new. The engine that was used in the first game is recycled for this game. There's nothing wrong with recycling the engine, though, as that engine is one of the most impressive engines on the PSP.
The engine really showcases it's capabilities when you are seeing multiple characters on screen. Magic attacks look flashy and lag is basically nonexistent. You can have two Yunas fighting, each with two summons out and an assist character out (8 characters on screen at one time) without having the PSP blow up. That in itself is an impressive accomplishment.
I gave Graphics an 8. It may be a recycled engine, but it has truly impressive limitations, as shown in the game.
Presentation/Sound - 8/10
As far as audio goes, if you didn't like the voice-acting in the original, you probably won't be too fond of voice acting in this game either. The new characters have returning voice actors, like Liam O Brien for Kain Highwind. As a whole, all of the new voice-actors do a decent job at their character roles, with the better ones as returning roles, rather than giving voice-acting to characters who didn't have it before.
Music reception is kind of hit-and-miss. There are plenty of new remixes of songs in this, including Esper Battle from FFXII, Force Your Way from FFVIII, and Castle Pandemonium from FFII. With these remixes, you'll most likely either love them or hate them. One thing is for certain, though. There is a lot of new music.
On top of the music tracks from the first game, there are new dungeon themes and 2 new battle songs for each of the 13 represented games, not to mention the possibility of 39 more tracks if you include DLC from each game. To put it at it's simplest form, the soundtrack has easily doubled in size.
I give Sound an 8/10. Not all of the remixes are well-liked, but the sheer amount of new music, as well as DLC music is quite impressive.
Multiplayer - 8/10
Multiplayer for the original game was local only and consisted of fighting other people and gaining their Friend Cards, so you could fight their Ghost character to practice and gain their equipment and accessories through Item Drops.
012 still has this and adds more onto it. First of all, it is still local only, so we don't have traditional online multiplayer. However, you can import Friend Card save data from your Memory Stick, so all you have to do is get your friend to upload his/her friend card to the internet. After that, you can download it, import it, and fight their ghost. This is a handy trick for those who do not have the means to get online with the game through Ad Hoc Party or Xlink Kai.
The biggest improvement for multiplayer, however, is Quest Creation. This feature lets you create customized 5-battle quests, with the use of story events that are written by you as well as the use of Player Icons unlocked as you play the game.
The ability to create customized Quests aka Fanfics is a great addition to the game, but only has one downside for North American and European players. Square did not set up a server web site for players to upload these quests online for other players to download, like they did in Japan.
Why did they not give US/EU players access to this feature? We don't know. I've sent many emails to Square Enix Support about this, but have yet to receive a reply. The good news is you can save the quests and upload them to the Internet the same way you can with a Friend Card, enabling Quest sharing through organized fan-run networks.
Multiplayer gets an 8 for the improvements on the current multiplayer system and the inclusion of Quest Creation.
Conclusion - 8.5/10
Dissidia 012 takes the original and more than doubles the amount of content. With 6 new characters, 7 new stages, and many new gameplay modes, there is always something new to do. More RPG-like than the original was, this game appeals more to RPG fans than fighting fans. However, gamers of all varieties will likely get many hours of fun from this game, while Dissidia veterans can expect hundreds of hours.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/01/11
Game Release: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (US, 03/22/11)
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