Holy Stupid Name Batman! Square-Enix has released some games with truly stupid names in the past but the Final Fantasy series has mostly managed reasonably titled games (Unless you count the face that with over 52 games in the series the word ‘Final’ clearly does not apply). When the original Dissidia game came out I naturally wondered what orifice they pulled the name from, but eventually I shrugged it off and got to playing the game. ‘Final Fantasy : Dissidia 012 Duodecim’ makes it really hard to shrug off the name. If someone asked me what I was playing I usually responded ‘Final Fantasy Fighting Game’. If I did happen to try and tell someone ( such as my wife ) the full title of the game I was horribly mocked for playing it, as if the title of the game was my fault.
Having dropped over 100 hours into the previous Final Fantasy Dissidia I was looking forward to starting the sequel but a few things kept me from getting started. First – I didn’t want to play another game on my PSP. I was able to resolve this issue by throwing more money at Square Enix and buying a digital copy of the game for my PS Vita during a Final Fantasy sale on the Playstation store. Second – 100 hours is a long ass time to play a game. What finally convinced me to start Duodecim was the discovery that there is an import feature. The import process was a simple 380 step process that involved multiple virtual machines, memory card readers and a bit of hacking skill but in the end I did get it to work and I was able to import all of my maxed-out characters.
I didn’t realize it until after I was quite a way in to the game but the game is a super set of the original Dissidia. It includes the original game as well as a lengthy prequel. The game isn’t 100% identical but if you can skip the original Dissidia you won’t be missing anything story wise. The story follows the eternal conflict between Chaos and Cosmos (Discord and Harmony) and attempts to tie all of the Final Fantasy titles together into a cohesive whole. It does this by confusing the hell out of you to the point that your brain decides to stop trying to process the story and accepts everything as perfectly sensible.
If I had to choose one word to describe this game it would be POINTS. There are Brave Points (BP), Hit Points (HP), Ability Points (AP), Experience Points (Exp), Kupo Points (KP) and Player Points (PP). While not technically a ‘point’ value, there is also an in game currency called ‘Gil’ which can be used to purchase various types of gear. If you think that sounds a tad bit over-complicated then you and I are in agreement. I couldn’t help but feel that some gleeful accountant with an over fascination of spreadsheets designed the game.
Battles are all one-on-one and your goal is to reduce your opponents HP to 0. You have two types of attacks – Brave attacks and HP attacks. Brave attacks reduce your opponents’ brave points and adds them to yours. HP attacks take your current brave points and inflict equivalent damage to your opponents HP. The normal flow of battle involves attempting to inflict ‘break’ status on your opponent by reducing their Brave points below zero. This awards you a huge bonus of brave points and in many cases means you can win the battle with a single HP attack afterwards.
There are several AI engines of varying difficulty, the most frustrating of which either blocks dodges or reflects every single attack you make. In once such battle I fired over 30 homing shots at my opponent and every single one missed. I’ve been in battles where my foe was backed into a corner and I blasted them with a huge attack and it missed even though they visually appeared to have no way to dodge. How do you win these battles? It’s helps to be several dozen levels above your opponent, but if all else fails you can always resort to luck. Eventually the AI will screw up and you’ll hit it.
Cut-scenes were irritatingly frequent and account for a large percentage of my play time through this game. Since I was maxed out on levels, for the first 2/3rds of the game I could get 1-hit kills on all the enemies so the game consisted mostly of cut-scenes and loading screens for me. Conversations between characters tended to be repetitive and waaaaaaaaaay too long. There is a skip feature, which I recommend to any new players. Go ahead and skip – the story doesn’t make sense anyway.
Every button on the PSP (or the PS Vita in my case) is used and then some while playing this game. Many skills such as dodging, summoning and calling an assist character require you to hold a shoulder button while pressing another button. I often found my hand temporarily locked into a ‘claw of doom’ position after playing Duodecim. The controls are impossible to use comfortably. I don’t think the designers put much thought into what sort of controller players would have.
The full history of Final Fantasy outfits is on display in Duodecimo. Characters from the more recent games retain their original their original appearance (such as Tidus’s one long pant leg and Kuja’s thong / vest / skirt combo) but characters from the more classic titles have been ‘upgraded’ to 3D models. While I am going to refrain from an extended critique of the fashion choices in this game, I find it interesting to observe that the more evil a woman is in Final Fantasy, the more of her knockers you are likely to see (Which is the opposite of what I believed for most of my adolescence).
Dissidia is clearly fan service for people like myself who are long time fans of the series and enjoy the mash-ups of characters. The game mechanics are unique and fun, although somewhat flawed. Overall I enjoyed the game, but I really hope they re-think some of the mechanics if they’re going to continue creating Dissidia games (And all signs point to yes).
- Unique Fighting game.
- Includes characters from Final Fantasy I – XIII.
- Flawed mechanics.
- Long, repetitive cut-scenes.
Genre: Fighting / RPG