Out of the many spin-offs the Final Fantasy series have had as years have passed, Dissidia marked a change of perspective among fans and non-fans alike. A fighting Final Fantasy game, how would Square Enix manage to pull it off?. I have to admit I had my doubts when the first Dissidia came out, and then Dissidia 012 got released and to everyone's surprise, both games did manage to deliver a Final Fantasy fighting game worth playing. For years I had waited to play these games and in the end, I decided upon 012 as it grants you the option to play through the original's story after beating 012's story. And like that, a game of which I once had my doubts, became one of my favorite this 2020.
Released in 2011, this game completes the roster of main characters that were absent from the original release and brings about new additions and serves as both a prequel and an enhanced remake of its predecessor. The 012 stands for the chapter it belongs to in Dissidia's storyline, and while the concept may seem a bit confusing at first, it only evolves into a great fight of good versus evil ala classic Final Fantasy style that sucks oneself in the more one plays. Dissidia 012 reunites our heroes from the main releases to fight against their respective foes in a battle between Cosmos (good side) and Chaos (bad side). It all develops in perfect harmony as one gets to see Vaan (Final Fantasy XII) interacting with Terra (Final Fantasy VI) or Bartz (Final Fantasy V) wielding both Cloud (Final Fantasy VII) and Squall's (Final Fantasy VIII) weapons. Cosmos & Chaos' struggle begins.
Battles are fast-paced from beginning to end, a must in a fighting game.
One of the main concerns, if I remember correctly when this game was going to be released, was why making it for the PSP instead of the PS3 and make it look better? Well, 012 on the PSP looks amazing. One can clearly see the production values working from the menus to the battles themselves. For starters (including me at some point) the game can be a bit chaotic between all of the movements and magics on display, but the game never falters. Some frame drops? Occasionally, but the experience is never diminished, and that's proof of how graphics for this game were thought throughout. Excellency, as expected from the hands of Square Enix.
Navigating the world map feels like playing through Final Fantasy VIII to IX all over again.
The gameplay is divided into three sections: exploration, a grid-like mini-map to select battles and progress, and of course, the battles. The exploration is as simple as running to find chests and fight enemies. The grid sections are when one chooses which enemies to fight, chests to open, and challenges to take in a closed space prior to defeating that mandatory adversary to continue the journey. Finally, the main attraction is the battles. In order to defeat one's opponent, attacking them is required yet not enough to win. Bravery points are given with each attack and special attacks deal damage based on the bravery points a character has. In short, deal a special attack charged with more bravery points than the enemy's health to win. Dissidia 012 is a fighting game that teaches you with tutorials but you really learn as you play, hence all of those battles, which are a lot, are totally worth the time. This is indeed a fighting game, but my playthrough took 56 plus hours, and I don't regret it.
As this game gathers our protagonists and antagonists from Final Fantasy I to Final Fantasy XIII, to listen to the classic tunes and themes is expected. Do they work during menus, exploration, and battling? They do wonders. From the moment you listen to the intro's soundtrack, you'll know the rest of the original soundtrack for this game will not disappoint. There are some arrangments and some of the voice actors reprise their roles, while for the first time we listen to others interact between them. Listening to The Warrior of Light (Final Fantasy) discussing with Lighting (Final Fantasy XIII) or even listening to Laguna (Final Fantasy VIII) feels wonderful. There's this one soundtrack which plays during the final battle against Chaos titled The Messenger that serves as a good background song to listen to as we enjoy the game's last battles.
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is that game fans of the series didn't expect but at the same time, didn't know they needed. Take it as an homage to one of the most enduring Role-Playing game series to this day, as a fighting game that challenges and rewards you big time, or as another Final Fantasy game that lives up to its namesake, spin-off or not.
I played this game without having played Final Fantasy VIII before, but Dissidia 012's story builds upon itself just fine and it may even encourage newcomers to go and play the original titles.
4.5 out of 5
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