The next in line of the Square Enix flagship franchise bursts onto the handheld scene with all the spectacular visuals and stunning gameplay that we have come to expect from the award-winning developers. But will the imaginatively entitled PsP exclusive bring anything new to the table for fan’s of this long-established series.
Final Fantasy has, for some considerable length of time, been the showpiece game in the Square Enix portfolio. Offering cutting edge graphics and state of the art technology to bring its characters almost to life, as it were. With its action and combat mechanics, that we hope, are eventually ported across to the console based Final Fantasy titles, Dissidia Duodecim looks better than ever.
We love Final Fantasy here at GamesMediaPro. Ever since we set out on our first epic adventure across the fantastical realm that Square Enix, like some sort of prophetic magician, had conjured up for us, we have been glued to the games storylines like a mesmerised child with his nose pressed firmly against the sweet shop window. Enrapt by its awe-inspiring visuals, and our breath taken away by the depth of the content and gameplay on offer, we have looked towards each new title in the best-selling series with all the fervour of an ardent follower. The arrival of Dissidia (012) Duodecim has been met with universal astonishment and approval by the gaming media, and we are falling in line with the standard chain of thought that Dissidia ahs to be the finest example of a Final Fantasy title ever to be released on a handheld system.
The story behind the title takes place before the original Duodecim title, and see’s Cloud and Co trapped in a battle with Cosmos and Chaos as they seek desperately to find a portal that will take them back to their homeworlds. The actual storyline is far deeper and more involving than you may have been led to believe, with some of your most memorable characters from your favourite editions of the Final Fantasy legacy stepping up for you to take control as you fight your way through an impressive array of enemies and demons.
The gameplay, once again, is only surpassed by the brilliance of the graphic’s, that the developer has placed before your disbelieving eyes as you are swept on whirlwind of mouth-watering and sumptuous visuals that will leave you incredulous at just how Square Enix have managed to cram so much class onto a handheld title.
There have been many improvements made to the gameplay mechanics, even overtaking the original Dissidia title by some considerable margin. Everything just seem’s so much brighter and cleaner than previous offerings in the series and this is no more evident han in the game’s new battle grid. Instead of just moving from battle location to the next in a never-ending series of cut scenes and combat, Square Enix have branched out in a new direction with Dissidia Duodecim as the player can now traverse a ‘proper’ map. Enemies are approached from a far better perspective as gamers are able to ‘see’ what lies ahead by using the map to judge the direction in which they wish to take their journey.
Another nice change see’s the inclusion of a Party system for battling Boss Men and Bad Guy’s alike, as you can now switch characters at the merest press of a button, instantly transforming into another of the titanic twelve, or, should you prefer, sticking with your firm favourite, as you crash headlong into the fray in a series of tournament style fights that will bring a smile to the lip’s of every true Final Fantasy fan out there.
As far as the characters go its business as usual in Dissidia Duodecim as we get to grip’s with all of your favourite femme fatales and high-kicking hunk’s from the much-loved franchise, with everyone getting in on the impressive action from the competent Cloud and loveable Laguna, right through to the awesome Zidane and the terrific Terra to the might of Sephiroth himself. There have been some notable inclusions to the ‘Duodecim Roll Call Register’ also, with luminaries ranging from Lightning to Golbez on hand to warm the cockles of any gamers heart, but it is the inclusion of such names as Tifa Lockhart and Kain Highwind that are going to cause the most stirrings right across the multitude of fan-based websites and forum’s all around the world. Once again there may be some who may question some of the characters strengths and attributes, but in our opinion with the quality and quantity of all your most beloved Final Fantasy characters getting their time in the Dissidia spotlight it is not something that detracts from the games amazing gameplay or first-rate combat system. If anything it just makes for all the more replay value, as it will offer greater challenges for those players capable enough to venture forth across the game zones complete with what some may say are the ‘weaker’ members of the cast. With around 30 or so members of this cracking crew of capable combatants, all ready willing and able to pull on their fighting boots and wade into the sea of enemies at your behest, there is no doubt that Dissidia Duodecim will offer untold hours of ‘replay-ability’ to those gamers wise enough to purchase this fantastic title.
The combat itself is fluid and firm, with all of those trademark moves that we have come to know and love over countless gaming hours spent perfecting our skill’s in the Final Fantasy realm. Of particular note a the almost ‘finisher’ styles of Cloud and Sephiroth, but newcomer Kain has some stunning step’s all of his own. Once again the Bravery Points are there as the currency of chaos, and its these that you must obtain by hacking away at your enemies defences in order to dish out some severe spankings to your rival forces. There are also the ‘EX’ attacks that will also allow you to deal out some punishing damage to your foes, instead of knocking bits of their HP once you have attained enough Bravery Points to do so. These are far more powerful but, in turn, there are also far more difficult to pull off. Although it has to be said that with a little patience , and a bit of time and effort put into your Dissidia Duodecim gameplay, you will be flying through the air with the greatest of ease in no time at all, and landing with a satisfying crunch on your opposite numbers nose at the end of it all .
There is just so much learning to be done in Dissidia Duodecim, and thankfully it is done with a ‘learning curve’ that is itself in no way daunting to even newcomers to this wonderful series of games, that even after delving into the untold delights and unlocks that all lie waiting to be tapped by the hand of one such as yourself, it is still very doubtful that you will experience everything that the title has on offer to you in one play through. To such an extent, it must be said, that even of you have never even played through the original Dissidia title then you will be pleased to know that lurking somewhere deep inside one of the secret passageways, that are strewn throughout the Duodecim realm, you will find a mysterious package that will grant you the entire first game! Now has is that for an ‘achievement unlocked?’
Graphics: When attempting to describe any of the superior titles in the Final Fantasy range there comes a moment when you are reaching for thesaurus in an attempt to discover new words that can accurately convey your feelings of utter disbelief at just how absolutely stunning the Square Enix games truly are. Dissidia (12) Duodecim is no exception to this rule of thumb as it shatters expectations by even the most ardent Final Fantasy disciple and never fails to impress every time you turn the game on. 10
Gameplay: New inclusions to both the format and the combat mechanics in Dissidia (12) Duodecim, no matter how small, have helped to turn this franchise into a finely tuned machine that produces startling results every time. If the original Dissidia was the gaming equivalent of a F1 racing car then welcome to the Ferrari pit stop. The entire game plays beautifully from start to finish and the action never let’s up for a moment. The storyline is gripping without being overblown or overpowering, and the depth and sheer weight of content is staggering. Square Enix promised the best, and they delivered. 9
RePlay Value: As we hinted in the review the game has massive amounts of replay value due not only to the fact that you will be able to play through with a different selection of characters, but then there is also the massive amounts of content and hidden treasure and bonus content to be found, no less than the original title lies in wait for the intrepid explorer to discover. Bearing in mind that it will take untold hours of gameplay just to complete the first play through, I think that we can safely assume that this is one handheld title that will never be sat on a shelf gathering dust. 10
Presentation: Once again Square Enix have taken their flagship franchise and given it the full treatment as gamers are treated to an absolute jewel of a game. Dissidia (12) Duodecim may well be the first ever Final Fantasy title that a good many new gamers will have ever experienced, and to that we can only say that if that is the case then you could not have chosen a better time to step into the realm that Square Enix have created for us. With a single player campaign mode that seems to be endless, and a co-op mode that most developers can be dream of, Dissidia (12) Duodecim is towering example of handheld gaming at its very finest. Demanding action and combat coupled with an ever-expanding world that is detailed with what have to be the best graphic’s that the PsP has ever experienced all wrapped up in an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable storyline. Does portable gaming really get any better than this? No, probably not. 10