Dissidia: Final Fantasy Updated Hands-On

Cloud versus Squall? Sephiroth versus Golbez? We decide who comes out on top in Square Enix's upcoming action role-playing game.

To celebrate the venerable Final Fantasy series' 20th anniversary, Square Enix came up with Dissidia Final Fantasy, an action role-playing game that will feature a sizable cast of the most well-known characters from the series. In the last two decades, there have been more than a dozen Final Fantasy games and spin-offs, but Dissidia will reunite some of our favorite heroes and villains from the main series and pit them against one another in epic battles. At first glance, this is going to seem like a fighting game--because that's primarily what you're doing--but with its role-playing game elements, storyline, and customization, Dissidia is more than just one battle after another. We had an opportunity to play a few skirmishes at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but we recently received a preview build to go more in-depth and check out the game's many features.

The story takes place in a distant realm, where two gods have been locked in an eternal conflict. Cosmos (the goddess of harmony) and Chaos (the god of discord) have been recruiting warriors from all over to fight in a deadly war. It seems that Chaos is now gaining the upper hand and Cosmos is running out of steam. After gathering 10 of her bravest warriors, Cosmos tells them that they must each track down a crystal, their last hope of winning the war. Very little instruction is given, but the warriors immediately set off on their individual journeys, searching for answers and the elusive crystals.

Story mode is set up so that you can play through each hero's individual storyline in any order. To complete the character's story, you must clear multiple chesslike levels. Each map is made up of a random array of squares on a grid, with enemy pieces, treasure, and potions placed on the board. The goal is to get to the Stigma of Chaos on the other side of the board to finish the level. As you complete battles, you'll gain levels, learn new abilities, and receive items and equipment so that you can customize your character. Equipment is shared among all the heroes, so you can easily swap items when you change characters. As the story for each character unfolds, you'll notice that their personalities and backstories parallel the events from the game they originally starred in. For instance, Cloud is as brooding and pensive as ever, shrouded in doubt and wondering what he's fighting for, and Terra has to deal with amnesia and has powers that she doesn't quite understand. It will be interesting to see how all these storylines will tie together, because assembling such a large cast of characters with such rich histories can be difficult.

Battles are one-on-one fights in which the goal is to reduce your opponent's health to zero. The system is unique in Dissidia because you must first use the circle button to reduce the bravery points of your enemy in order to boost your own. Your bravery points are equivalent to the damage that you can deal, so once you've sucked enough bravery from your opponent, you hit the square button to attack. It's like wearing down the shield of your enemy before delivering your killing blow. There's an EX gauge to the left of your health bar, and when it's filled, you can enter EX mode by holding square and the right button, which gives you the ability to deal more damage as well as perform an unblockable EX burst--similar to a limit break or overdrive from previous games.

Entertaining is one way of putting it.

The different arenas range from wide-open fields to indoor hallways, which can make it difficult to keep your eyes locked on to your opponent. You can lock on using the L button, but the camera isn't always in the best location, especially if you're maneuvering around walls or cliffs or chasing down a nimble foe. There will be times when the X button will appear onscreen, giving you the option to give chase to your opponent or dodge oncoming attacks. The battle system was designed by the creators of Kingdom Hearts, so you'll see familiar features like air recovery if you've been hit. If running around the battlefield proves to be too overwhelming, there's a "command style" option to unlock, which changes the game from the usual "action style." This mode lets you choose commands in the battlefield while the CPU moves your character for you. While this does make the game easier because you don't need to worry about the camera or movement, you still need to watch your character and time your actions, or you'll easily lose the match.

Dissidia is packed with modes and additional features so that you are constantly discovering something new or earning more items. When you initially create a profile, be sure to pick what day of the week you will likely play the most, because there are bonuses for playing on that day. A shop is available so that you can upgrade your weapons and armor as your characters level. You'll learn new abilities, which can be assigned to specific button configurations and equip summons that you've found. You will constantly be unlocking new items and modes, so the in-game manuals are a handy reference if you need more information. It's also fun to see cameos of characters from across the Final Fantasy series who are there to help you out.

There's plenty of customization and options in the game to play with if you're tired of fighting.

Arcade mode--which was added for the North American version--lets you choose the character you want to play as and face a computer-chosen lineup of opponents. Depending on your results, you can earn points to spend in the PP catalog, where you can unlock villains among many other things. Once you unlock more characters, you can play with or against them in Quick Battle, a mode that lets you customize the characters and stages and adjust the computer's strategy. We didn't get to test it out, but you can show off your skills by playing against a friend in ad hoc mode and there's a Duel Colosseum mode as well that involves cards.

Dissidia's impressive roster has been tweaked by character designer Tetsuya Nomura, giving them a more uniform look. The cutscenes are beautifully done, and the in-game graphics will remind you of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Nobuo Uematsu's previous musical works, which were handpicked by Crisis Core composer Takeharu Ishimoto, will evoke strong memories of the previous games and are one of the highlights when playing through the game. Most of the cutscenes are voice-acted, with some actors suiting the characters better than others. As a whole, though, the game looks and sounds fantastic, which fans of the series are sure to appreciate. As you progress through the game, a museum option will appear, which will house music samples, cutscenes, and information on characters for you to peruse at your leisure.

Dissidia Final Fantasy is clearly aimed at the fans, so you can play as the buster-sword-wielding Cloud once again or see how the Warrior of Light from the original Final Fantasy was meant to look. An action game at its core, Dissidia offers a ton of options that we haven't even touched upon during our time with it. We'll be updating our site with additional exclusive gameplay footage each week, and be sure to check back for our full review when the game is released on August 25.

Written By

Want the latest news about Dissidia: Final Fantasy?

Dissidia: Final Fantasy

Dissidia: Final Fantasy

Discussion

272 comments
adriannauss
adriannauss

Wow what a cool looking game, the FF series has done so well, and they keep comming up with different ideas to keep us intrested, but not sway to far from its roots

Genesis_123
Genesis_123

2 weeks in the UK... damn. And could the reviewer try to seem enthusiastic about her job? She sticks to the script far too much.

Nintenkid49
Nintenkid49

want.....game......NOWWWWWWW!!!:D:D:D:D:D

Mushrooman_06
Mushrooman_06

i wonder if they will bring out DLC for it like new arenas and characters.The wait is killing me aghhhhh!!

Majin_Melzas
Majin_Melzas

Little over a week left :) Going to be a looong week :(

-Ten-
-Ten-

Everyday I look at this game the more and more I want it.

oblivion-IV
oblivion-IV

Well it is a trick after all..I'm going to buy psp for this game.Even through i would love it at PS3,with real 3D graphics,I mean c'mon It would look cooler in ps3,plus easier control with 2 analog sticks.Also many character isn't there.Jecht is misplaced.Saymour is FF10 bad guy.There are many characters missing.Just with a quick look where are blockbuster guys like Auron,Aeris and others?

Hyroshima
Hyroshima

Sephiroth's sword ain't THAT long, now. C'mon!

dead_live
dead_live

that sucks what da hell with the new vincent valentine

Wolf-5
Wolf-5

I am very intrested in this game. Looks like a PSP and this game are next on my list.

woman4games
woman4games

Looks like alot of fun and definitely worth buying, but I honestly would've liked to have seen more characters. Think Aeris, Rinoa, Yuna, etc..........

ironscoug
ironscoug

@ Rheinmetal Respect the calssics man

Balmane
Balmane

This looks good.Story and all should be interesting.

itachi100
itachi100

exactly two weeks until release! cheer up waiters!

BlackPhoenix117
BlackPhoenix117

This is the kind of game I've been waiting for from them. Sure wish I had a PSP.

Stormuser
Stormuser

It'll be awesome if this game got on a console, More expansions on stages and characters, well hey... one can dream

chrisddd01
chrisddd01

ah this sucks, this game looks pretty good and my psp got stolen today

Xx_Hopless_xX
Xx_Hopless_xX

hmm..i haven't gotten into final fantasy as of yet but this is looking ok, i liked the one for the SNES lol, so i don't know i haven't played since then

Rheinmetal
Rheinmetal

Recycle: that's what it's called. A good game, but still recycle... So are we going to see again Cloud, Sephiroth and their friends? Haven't you people had enough all these years? Something new from Square Enix maybe? You know, just for a change.

vgbum
vgbum

The Japanese version is awesome. I can only imagine how much more fun this game will be without the tedium of having to look up translations for everything but still being confused. This is a must-buy title for all psp owners. I would even go as far as saying it's worth picking up a psp if you don't have one since now there are a ton of great games for it and more like it coming out this year.

KevinCC
KevinCC

Everything I have seen so far, including extensive playing of the demo version, shows that this will be one super-massive hit of a game. From fluid graphics that lack slowdown to stages that are fully traversable and quite breakable to the memories evoked by the music, not to mention the cast... Dissidia is going to be a system seller for the PSP, and it is most certainly not a quickly-made cash-in... Square Enix has put the effort into making a quality game that's also a load of fun. With all the other features, such as Story Mode, coming exclusively in the full version, I can't wait.

chadowmantis
chadowmantis

the preview promisses a lot of depth and variety in this game, but from what i've seen (having played the japanese version), there's not much more to do than rock out to virtua-on type fighting - only slower. sure, theres levelling up and the chess thing, but really - this game is just one on one fighting with constant animations slowing things down badly. this couldve been a much faster and more exciting game, in my humble opinion.

TrinityChica14
TrinityChica14

The only thing that makes this depressing is that the current preview I am watching in full screen, is bigger than what it is actually going to look like. Other than it only coming out on the PSP, since I have one, I'll definitly buy it! But it'd be cool for it to come out on the PS3? Yes?

TigerGuy06
TigerGuy06

Looks awesome! Seriously considering buying a PSP for this.

TheLemonGelati
TheLemonGelati

I was a little skeptical at first, I thought sony wanted to get a quick game out for the PSP with the FF title but after playing the demo and reading about the games features.. I think it's shaping up to be a game I may have to get.

zintarr
zintarr

Another day down till release!

KSA333
KSA333

now this is a game i could buy psp for. :)

luilmat
luilmat

wow!!! i can't wait!!! oh man!! i have to have this!! i'm sure my classmates and i would be crazy about this for years!! yeah!! square enix, keep on releasing games!! long live and more power!!! yeah!!

Heaven_Is_Lost
Heaven_Is_Lost

It's going to be nice to not have to beg my friend to play his,but also not have to guess what the hell something is because of the kanji. Can't wait to get lost in the nostalgia.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

well this will be fun XD. can't wait to play as sephiroth.

Dantefan1
Dantefan1

haha zeromus, i know what you mean. Sephiroth is by far my favorite FF character, but i've at least got the mind to know how awesome the characters in the others are. Firion's always been my favorite protagonist (not really sure why, though...)

shii666
shii666

Is this game going to be formatted for UMD? Or will it data only? It wouldn't make much since for it to be UMD only, when so many people plan to get it with the PSP GO!

LightR
LightR

Waiting for PSP Go, I'll be getting this, GT, and MGS: Peace Walker.

jqm1978
jqm1978

not sure how I feel about it from the demo........sometimes its difficult to chase down your opponent......especially since the arena is huge......they dissapear easily and don't always engage......I think the AI is a little flawed, but I'll spend some more time with it and give it another chance.

jqm1978
jqm1978

Yeah, the demo is on psn........its a pretty good one too.....I think I got like 4 or 5 characters to use.........typically theres only two in a fighting demo...

zeromus99
zeromus99

Looks like I'm going to be facing hordes of Clouds and Sephiroths if I play online...I'll be happy to take them down with the underused characters that deserve just as much praise.

bush-boi
bush-boi

is the demo on psn for this game?

143C5
143C5

My brother can't wait for this game so as me.

chopis182
chopis182

Sephiroth rulz.....this game look better in my future PSPGO!

TUROK44
TUROK44

I wanna try out sephiroth vs garland or golbez! or any other character also get to use squall to kick some but!

crushaters
crushaters

I'm beginning to wish I played more than just FFVII and VIII. The characters look so BAD@SS to play as, but almost all of the nostalgia will be lost on me.

quackthegreat
quackthegreat

This looks so awesome!!!!!!!!!! I tried downloading the demo but it won't work and now I'm sad.

GAARA770
GAARA770

looks great cant wait to play as tidus and jecht

Notelessinferno
Notelessinferno

this game is a Must have,. going to be the best PSP game ever made, no doubt.

Jayman122
Jayman122

this game rocks my family ordered it so i can play it on august 27 its going to be fun

BIGKAYPIMP
BIGKAYPIMP

this would have been an awesome game if it was ported the major consoles ut im not complaining at least i can play this game anywhere i go instead of having to stay home to play. and as far as zack goes just get over it all he is is cloud with a different head amd im sure someone will port this game to the pc due to hacking and make a skin so stop whining and shut up

DevilKazeya
DevilKazeya

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]