Review: Dissidia: Final Fantasy

I rarely play fighting games.  That’s not to say I can’t, it’s just that there’s usually not much to draw me in and keep me invested.  I’ve got no connection with the fighters, the story tends to be painful, and eventually I get tired of winning.  As it turns out, all I needed to keep me interested were Final Fantasy characters. 

Essentially, that’s all there is to Dissidia.  It’s a fighting game for the PSP featuring Final Fantasy characters.  That in itself would have been enough to catch my interest.  However, once I got a chance to play the game, I realized it was actually pretty fun.  Not only can you finally see your fantasy death matches play out (Terra vs. Sephiroth is interesting), but you actually get to see your characters grow from all of the time you spend in battle. 

Each character starts out with a few basic fighting skills.  The best part is, even with these very basic builds, each character feels distinct.  You’ve got close range fighters, long distance fighters, magic users, quick but weak, strong but slow…everyone can find a type to start with.  As you fight, you gain experience.  This part is like your everyday RPG.  You gain levels, raise your stats, and learn new abilities and moves.  Being able to set those moves, as well as choosing your equipment, helps you make each character your own.  

Dissidia gives you a few modes to play around in.  There’s a story mode, featuring a board game style of map.  The story isn’t amazing, by any means, but it’s far better than any I’ve encountered in a fighting game so far.  In arcade mode, you fight off a string of enemy fighters.  Quick battle is just that…a fast way to jump right in to a fight.  Communications mode lets you fight against friends, or battle the ghost data of those you’ve connected with in the past.  It’s a pretty standard set-up, but it works well. 

The controls are pretty simple to understand, with only a few small issues.  The combination of a button and a direction changes up your moves, while the addition of a shoulder button let’s you dodge, block, sprint, or go into your super-powered “EX mode”.  Here’s where my one real problem comes in.  When you’re using the shoulder button, sometimes the transition between sprint and attack isn’t so smooth.  There have been many times I lunge in for the kill, only to have my fighter stand in midair, blocking a non-existent attack.  Other than that, though, the controls work well, and help me have a real choice in what move I’m using at any given moment. 

There were times when I played the game that I just wanted to stop pressing buttons and admire the view.  The graphics are wonderful, with highly detailed characters, flashy attacks, and gorgeous cutscenes.  There were a few times when the level design and camera didn’t get along, but other than that, I have no complaints, and plenty to rave about. 

So what’s my final word on Dissidia?  If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, then definitely check it out.  If you’re a fighting fan, you really should give it a try…there’s a lot for you to love.  If you don’t enjoy either of those…well…see if someone has a copy you can play.  It’s hard to recommend to those that aren’t in to either of its main draws, but you may still find yourself sucked in.  But a warning, to all who play the game…once you’re hooked, it’s hard to put down. 

Score:  4 out of 5

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