It's really aimed at hardcore FF fans but as a fighting/action game, it is amazing. I totally recommend it.
The game plays like an action-adventure title, in a 3rd person perspective with a lot of freedom to move around the stages by running, dashing, jumping and even flying through them. It is not a common fighting game; in fact, it has tons of RPG features on it, which is logical given that it is a Final Fantasy game. Every character will have a base HP and "bravery" stat. By using bravery attacks, the fighters will try to reduce the opponent's points until they have enough to deal strong HP attacks to damage the vitality of the enemy until one of them dies.
Like in most fighting games, there are a lot of styles to choose from. There will be fast melee fighters like the Onion Knight (FF3) and Tifa, strong but slow melee characters like Garland (FF1) and Cloud (FF7) and the mages who focus on ranged attacks to keep their enemies at bay like Terra (FF6) and Shantoto (FF11). This guarantees that every player will have at least one character they like and can feel comfortable with.
One of the great additions to the gameplay is the assists. By fighting your opponents, you will fill an assist bar that when ready, can allow you to call a companion to help you by doing several attacks in a row, leading to excellent combo opportunities to take out huge amount of HP from your enemies.
There is a cool customization mode which allows you to equip different items and accessories like weapons and armor to the characters like in a common Final Fantasy game to boost their stats and add several different features to their attacks and the fights themselves. This is applied in an excellent way because regardless of the mode you're playing on, it's usual to get rewards to pretty much every fight you play. You can also summon monsters like Ifrit and Shiva to add tweaks to the matches on the go.
Graphically, the game is amazing. The PSP graphics Square-Enix manages to obtain never cease to get better, even after excellent-looking games like Kingdom Hears: Birth by Sleep and Crisis Core. Dissidia 012 looks better and takes the PSP's visuals to another level. The textures are of top quality, the frame rate is steady and never slows down and though there is a lack of anti-aliasing here and there, it doesn't bother because the environments are so beautiful to look at and the fights are so intense that you won't have time to notice it. The animations in the characters are excellent as well, no matter what they're doing, talking, running, fighting, etc. The game looks great.
There are a lot of modes to choose from. First, there's a story mode which tells the tale of how the goddess of harmony, Cosmos and the god of discord, Chaos have been in an endless war over the rule of the universe and they call several fighters from different worlds (the FF characters) to fight this war with them. To be honest, the story is not very good; it is full of JRPG clichés and ridiculous events happening among the Final Fantasy protagonists, which result in either stupid moments that shouldn't happen or endless fights against "manikins" which are just clones of the game's fighters used to level up and gain new items to equip. Every hero in the game has a story which is an opportunity to get used to his/her fighting style and know a little more about them.
Among the bad story the game offers, there is a cool feature in the mode which is a world map. Almost every Final Fantasy game had a world map their characters had to travel on foot (or airship), so this time, instead of just using the characters in the fights and looking at them in the silly cutscenes, you will be able to walk around the world map and open chests, fight enemies and access the gates where the story-based things happen.
Besides the story mode, you can play the Battle Mode which covers Arcade, in which you fight five random AI enemies for a reward, Time Attack or Quick Battle, which can be either 1 on 1 or party-based (in party, you can choose from a group of five and they will share the EXP after winning). These modes can be played in "custom", where you use the characters at the level you have them at and with the equipment you have on them, or "preset" where you just choose a level from 20, 50 or 100 and the game automatically gives you an optimized version of the character at those levels.
You can also play the game on Ad-Hoc mode only which is a little bad because there is a lack of online gameplay which could be great given the tons of options the game offers for customization. But the fights in this mode are great and you can edit a player card your friends can download to register you, in this player card you can add your nickname, an icon, some info on you and your favorite character.
Then there's the PP (player points) catalog, where you can spend the points you earn after every fight in every mode to buy new costumes for the characters, new icons for your player cards, stages, songs and even gameplay features like an increased item drop when you defeat manikins in story mode and such. Some of the things in the catalog are expensive and this is where the "calendar" comes in, when you play the game for the first time, a moogle will ask you which day of the week you play the most. Your answer will be the "bonus day" in the game, in this bonus day you will earn extra PP (and extra items, Gil and exp) for every fight, so you have to pay attention to this and take the opportunity to play a lot in this day you chose to earn more points to spend in the store. Besides the bonus day, the moogles will give you gifts obtaining extra PP, items and accessories every day so checking the calendar everyday and going through the moogle's silly letters usually pay off.
The soundtrack is incredible, probably one of the best things in the game, it features at least three of the best songs from every mothership Final Fantasy game, either in the original versions or remixes (the songs from FFI-VI are remixed) it's usually the battle theme, boss themes and other iconic songs from the games. The new tunes are also great and give a cool Nobuo Uematsu feeling to the game. If you're a fan of the series, you will love the soundtrack and it will even bring you a lot of memories from the old entries of the saga.
The voice acting is good for the most part, some of the characters from the games without voice-acting (like for example: Cloud, Bartz and Kefka) pretty much fit what we all imagined they would sound like and the modern ones have their original voices, Yuna and Lightning have exactly the same actresses who voiced them in FFX, X-2 and XIII which is great because the had very iconic voices in their respective games. The silly stuff here are not the voices, but the dialogs which given the poor story, are not very good.
The game has pretty much infinite replay value, since almost all the characters have a story of their own that takes about 2-3 hours to complete, you can imagine that completing the game can take hundreds of hours taking stories, leveling up, farming PP and just killing boredom (which the games is excellent at). While the game is completely aimed at hardcore fans of the saga, it is excellent and common fighting (or just competitive) games aficionados can enjoy it a lot. The content in the game is pretty much infinite, the fights are intense, the cast of characters is incredibly good, the soundtrack is amazing and it is definitely one of the best PSP games out there. I totally recommend it, especially if you like Final Fantasy. It is one of the best gifts Square-Enix has given to their public.
- Intense fighting system featuring the most iconic Final Fantasy characters
- Almost all the fights earn you useful rewards
- Excellent graphics, soundtrack and presentation
- The story is uninteresting and not very good
- Some of the cool features in the PP catalog are expensive and require lots of farming to get them