I first played a Final Fantasy game when I was about 12. It was Final Fantasy VII, and from the moment I popped it into my PlayStation 2 I was awestruck. The storytelling of the game was spectacular, and the gameplay kept me well entertained even though it wasn’t truly fast paced action. But the defining element of FFVII, the defining element of all RPGs I believe, is the depth to the characters and the way the plot unfolds in a way to truly mature the protagonists. Needless to say, I was hooked on Final Fantasy from that point on, and when I read the news of a cross-over game between the first 10 installments, I was ecstatic.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy, released in for the PSP in Japan in December, 2008 and in the U.S. on August 25, 2009, unites the ten heroes and villains of Final Fantasy through Final Fantasy X, in a new take on the fighting and action genre, utilizing gameplay elements that result in fast paced and epic battles similar to those found in the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Players choose a hero or villain to fight in one on one combat spanning across a destructible three-dimensional stage while attempting to steal the opponent’s “bravery” in order to deal direct damage to the enemy itself.
As a PSP game, Dissidia features graphics and gameplay that soars above others for this system, and it can be argued that this game could have fared well on the PS2 or even the PS3 with a larger budget and better team working on the mechanics to have it working on said systems. The graphics display of the game is similar to that of a previous Final Fantasy entry on the PSP, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and at times it even exceeds that game in terms of graphics.
Also surpassing Crisis Core is Dissidia‘s epic gameplay, which doesn’t restrict itself to any form of turn-based or command input combat. Rather, it follows the formula of fighting game, with specific actions mapped to one button, and more advanced maneuvers such as dodging, certain attacks, or dashing through the air takes a combination of buttons. The pacing keeps one engrossed and the action, and sometimes even taking your eyes off the enemy for just long enough to get some distance between yourself and him could give ample opportunity for one combatant to throw out a move that could ultimately decide the end of the fight.
“Dream battles” play a huge role in the game’s fun factor. However, possibilities exist that this can only be found among a certain demographic. To the fans of the previous games, there can be endless amounts of enjoyment derived from pitting Cloud Strife against Squall Leonhart, or Sephiroth against Kuja, in fantasy battles that thus far can only be found in a diehard fan’s imagination or in Dissidia. Therefore, it can be said that much of the entertainment in this game is the fan-service.
This shoudn’t be taken to mean that only fans of the Final Fantasy series will enjoy the game. Gamers open to fighting games with a decent story will find Dissidia to be worth it. The story of the game successfully manages to delve deep into each individual character’s psyche and provide a conclusion to their own personal struggles before they unite to resolve the game’s conflict itself. Harsh critics, though, will find this story to be slightly lacking in any real form of coherence, and will point out what it really is: a typical crossover story that only serves as an excuse to bring these characters together.
One of the staples of a Final Fantasy game is replay value. Each game has had it, whether in the form of extra content to be tackled after the main events of the game, or playing through a second time with different tactics and methods to see how the story folds out that time. Dissidia‘s replay value comes in two forms: fan-service-as stated before-, and unlockables. The latter comes in the form of playable characters, extra costumes, museum entries, and extra modes to play in even after the end of the story. The challenge of these extras makes the continued play of Dissidia well worth it, but as with all games there is the possibility of boredom with these once the novelty has worn off.
As a game in general, Dissidia has its ups and downs. Namely the voice acting and a slightly shoddy story. However, as a Final Fantasy game, it is definitely a must-have. Any fan of the series will shudder in delight at the thought of a true FF crossover, without any of the cartoony elements found in the Kingdom Hearts games. Being able to pit these characters against each other, and remain credible about it? Not many crossovers have pulled this off, but Dissidia: Final Fantasy does it successfully, and is without a doubt worth a rent, at the very least.