Dissidia Final Fantasy Preview (US Verison)By Brian Leahy - Posted Jul 17, 2009
I’ve already put Dissidia: Final Fantasy on my must-have list on the PSP after playing the imported Japanese version, but it’s so nice to be able to play the game in English. Well, apart from the voice acting. Let me rephrase… it’s nice that the items and abilities are in English!
If you’re unsure about the way the combat system works, read the following excerpts from my Import Report:
The game mechanics are pretty simple, but leave a lot of room for customization in a character’s equipment, accessories, abilities, summons, and more. Characters begin battles with a certain amount of “Brave” points (BP), which is indicated by the number above the health bar. By pressing the O button, you’ll make “Brave” attacks, which take BP away from your enemy and give them to you.
Then, you can make HP attacks, which trade BP for damage. If you have 800 BP, you’ll do 800 damage (plus bonuses and chances for critical hits, of course). This then reduces your BP to zero until it builds back up. Reduce your enemy’s BP total to 0 and you’ll “Break” them. This lets you boost your own BP far above what you have stolen from the enemy for devastating attacks. Throw in the EX meter, which functions like a Limit Break meter and you’ve got opportunities for amazing special attacks.
Characters can run up walls, slide along obstacles, and perform double jumps and air dodges to further increase a character’s movement abilities. The camera gets a little awkward at times, but you can lock onto your enemy and for the most part it functions well.
Moving on, the US version is almost completely the same as the Japanese version, though we’ll be getting the all-new Arcade mode along with some new abilities for the playable characters. Sadly, there are no new characters. I was hoping for some characters from Final Fantasy XIII to make waiting for that game less stressful.
The Arcade mode allows the player to jump into some quick action with pre-customized characters (including any of the villains that haven’t been unlocked yet) through a series of battles. The normal mode tasks the player with defeating five equally leveled CPU opponents and rewards success with some PP, the points used to unlock the game’s content. It’s a fun mode, but doesn’t offer the same character-building experience that the other modes offer.
Story mode will task you with running through the stories for each of the ten playable characters in addition to a final story. Additional modes like the Duel Colosseum, which is explained here, add replayability and the battleground you’ll need to bring your characters to level 100. Thankfully, growing a character -- when you can understand what’s going on -- is very rewarding.
The actual combat hasn’t changed since the Japanese release, besides a few new abilities. You’ll be buying items, gaining new abilities through leveling up, finding Summonstones in the story mode, and creating items through the “Battlegen” system, which tasks the player with meeting certain conditions to create accessories. In addition to stat-boosting accessories, you’ll also be able to slot in conditional modifiers that enhance the other accessories that the character is wearing. For example, there is an item that increases the effect of all other accessories while the character’s level is less than 3. Others boost stats when you’re low on health or even near the opponent.
As for the story… it’s definitely going to appeal to the most hardcore Final Fantasy fans, but casual fans will probably find themselves skipping the cutscenes fairly quickly. The narrative unfolds around the characters themselves instead of focusing on the ultimate battle between good and evil. This is especially true if you’re only familiar with the FF games after VII. Thankfully, the gameplay is so good you won’t mind the quality of the story.
Multiplayer runs on Ad-Hoc exclusively and really would have benefitted from an Infrastructure mode for the US release. Ad-hoc classically works in Japan where gamers spend a lot of time in close proximity on the subways, but infrastructure is the way to go in the United States. Once you get into a multiplayer game, however, it’s a great experience if you’ve got somebody nearby to play with. You’ll be able to battle with customized characters (that earn experience, ability points, and can even use the "Battlegen" system) or the pre-set arcade characters. Players can also set one of their characters along with a customized loadout and tactics profile to create a “ghost”, which is shared whenever you connect with another player and loaded up as a CPU controlled opponent. This way, you can get a multiplayer-like experience even if you aren’t with your friends at this point.
The game also features the ability to install a chunk of data onto a Memory Stick to improve load times, much like the PS3. There are three levels of installation, with the highest demanding around 800MB of free space. Do yourself a favor and install whichever amount you can fit on your Stick. The load times are drastically reduced and makes the experience much more enjoyable. It’s a strong case for the upcoming PSPgo as load times on the UMD drive are generally terrible across all games.
In the end, Dissidia will appeal to Final Fantasy fans in a big way, but also offers some great gameplay for those that just want a solid fighter with RPG elements on the PSP. It will be released on August 25th in the US.