Dissidia Duodecim, for the uninitiated, is a 3-D, real-time brawler featuring most of the main protagonists and antagonists of the entire Final Fantasy series. Battles are frenetic, acrobatic, and--while seemingly shallow at first--offer deep strategy and customization. It's a lot like Super Smash Bros. for the Final Fantasy series, except it's one-on-one and 3-D. What this means is that, just like Smash Bros., Dissidia provides tons of secrets, unlockables, fan service, and content. Players unfamiliar with Final Fantasy will get considerably less mileage out of Dissidia than fans of even one game in the series, but there's still a solid brawler in here with serious RPG trappings.
Brawls play out in a similar manner: Prowl around your enemy and use the circle button to nail them with Bravery attacks, which don't do damage, but increase your Bravery meter. The higher your Bravery meter, the more damage you'll deal when you finally hit the square button and unleash an HP attack. The point, ultimately, is to whittle away your opponent's HP, using a mix of Bravery and HP attacks, until they're defeated. Mixed in with this is a lot of dodging, rolling, flying around, blocking, explosions, and magic.
Battles earn you EXP, which in turn levels you up, which in turn allows you learn new Bravery and HP attacks. This is where the RPG foundations of Final Fantasy come into play, allowing you to equip new moves, items, summons, and accessories in an attempt to give you the upper hand while duking it out.
Dissidia Duodecim brings enough new content to the table that returning fans should definitely take a look, even if they've poured hundreds of hours into the first game. Folks who have played even one game in the Final Fantasy series and are curious about this title should definitely give it a spin. If you liked the first Dissidia, you'll love this sequel--it's bigger, better, quicker, and deeper than the first. If you never liked the first Dissidia, however, this one won't convert you. Fans of brawlers should also take a look, even if they're unfamiliar with Final Fantasy.
Dissidia Duodecim is a standout title on the PSP, and offers a huge amount of bang for the buck.
* Characters: Lightning, Kain, Tifa, Yuna, Laguna, Vaan, and a few others all come to the roster with new fighting styles that are fun and unique. So far, I've played heavily as Lightning, Tifa, and Yuna, and their new styles fit right in to Dissidia perfectly.
* Stages: A handful of new stages have been introduced to coincide with the additions to the character roster. Orphan's Cradle from FFXIII looks and plays great, and there are several other new stages that provide a welcome change in environment. For now, though, it only seems like there are 3 or 4 new stages.
* Moves: Returning characters have a few new tricks up their sleeves to mix things up.
* Music: New tunes have been added--not only for games like FFXIII and FFXII, which weren't represented it the first Dissidia, but it also seems as if at least one new song has been included from all the previous games as well. Menu BGM has been remixed slightly. The music, both new and old, sounds wonderful.
* Assists: Pick your character, then pick any other character on the roster to be your assist buddy when you need help. Assist characters can be assigned in the customization screen, similar to how accessories, equipment, and summons are assigned. You can fight without assist characters, but it's worth it to have one along for some flashy help during a brawl. There are Bravery assists and HP assists, and both should be used judiciously: Although it's easy to fill up the Assist meter, it's also easy to use an Assist at the wrong time and waste an opportunity. Each character offers a different skillset for assists, so it's important to consider your own fighting style and bring along the right assist character in order to maximize your strategy.
* Story Mode: Much improved over the original, the Story mode in Dissidia Duodecim now offers an expansive overworld to explore in between the familiar, grid-based battle levels from the first game. There are lots of secrets, treasure chests, wandering foes, and moogle shops in the overworld, making it an awesome addition to this sequel. Cutscenes are done better, and the new scenario featuring all six of the new characters is great.
* Party Free Battle: Create teams of up to five characters to take into tournament-style or round robin battles. Assign a Class to each character to receive stat bonuses, then unlock temporary new classes that are more powerful as you progress through each battle.
* Creation Mode: This mode is truly the highlight of the game for me--I'm very impressed by it. Creation Mode allows you to create your own quest scenarios, including static cutscenes and custom fights, which you can then share with friends. You can also save, edit, and watch replays in this mode, which offers a surprisingly robust Theater mode similar to Halo 3 or Halo Reach. Pause the replay, move the camera around, take screenshots, cut and string together the video, and then convert your masterpiece to an .avi that can be uploaded to your computer! Awesome! I've spent hours playing around in this mode, and expect to spend many hours more.
* Gameplay tweaks: The AI seems tougher in Battle Mode, but battles feel much more responsive and smooth. Unlockable items and equipment seem to come along much more frequently after every battle compared to the first game, which makes fights more rewarding. Assists add a great new layer of strategy to battles.
* Characters: All the familiar faces from the first Dissidia reprise their roles and fighting styles here.
* Stages: All the stages from the first game are available in this sequel as well.
* Music: All the music of the first game makes a welcome return
* Gameplay: The core gameplay remains unchanged. Aside from the addition of Assists, brawls are still very similar to the first Dissidia, though more responsive. Leveling up is still the same, and the Customization screen with the cute little chocobo is the same as in the first game. Don't fix what ain't broke, right?
+ Gameplay feels a little tighter and more responsive than in the first game.
+ Graphics seem a little better.
+ New characters, stages, and music are great additions to the game.
+ New cutscenes in Story mode seem as if they're a little better written, better acted, and better directed than in the first.
+ The overworld in Story mode is awesome, and fairly large.
+ The ability to import your save from the first Dissidia means any old characters you leveled up will retain their skills and levels in this game. You can also choose to import your save without bringing over the leveling you've accrued.
+ Creation mode is a stunning and excellent new mode for those who like to make their own movies, screenshots, and quests.
+ The ability to save replays as .avi files that can be uploaded to a computer (and played from your PSP's video folder) is a truly awesome feature. (Be sure to turn on Replays in the Options mode, first.)
+ Assists are a great addition to battles.
+ The data install feature helps cut load times (installing the maximum of 814 MB cuts load times by about 75%--but it takes about 2 hours to install). The install sizes include 492MB, 574MB, and 814MB.
+ The game is overwhelmingly deep, and offers a huge amount of content for a great price--even for those who spent tons of hours in the first Dissidia.
+ Battlegen items are much easier to create in Duodecim.
- Load times seem to be a few seconds longer in this game than in the first. Even with a maximum data install, loads take just a second or three longer here than after installing data in the first game. The wait is noticeable compared to the first game, but certainly not terrible.
- It's still easy to get stuck in cheap juggle moves by the computer, but Assists help alleviate this issue by letting your Assist character take the hits for you, if needed.
- Still no infrastructure mode. With the ability to create custom quests and edited replays, it's too bad there's no online portal to share your creations. You can still battle and share with friends using Ad-Hoc mode, but a true online mode would certainly have been welcome.
>>Things to note:
* Dissidia 012 [Duodecim] Final Fantasy is the sequel/prequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy. If you're looking to get a Dissidia game, get this one, not the first, because Duodecim includes all the stuff from the first game, plus a ton more.