If you enjoy fighting games, Dissidia: Duodecim will hook you for hundreds of hours.
When I heard that Square was planning on a sequel for Dissidia, I had my doubts; how could a fighting game this good go any better? Simple, add a few awesome characters, new maps, an enhanced battle system and a crapload of content to keep the player busy for months. Sounds like a quick hassle to renew an old game? Anything but that. Read on, and buy the damn game.
Let's start with the downers. The story is the horrible beast that stands between you and the true potential of Dissidia: Duodecim. The actual story told is terribly cheesy, as Chaos, the god of discord and Cosmos, the goddess of harmony are stuck in an eternal conflict. They each summon 10 warriors to battle eachother and thus, ending the eternal conflict.
And the actual story mode is even worse. You travel across a hollow world map, which includes fights every now and then, some moogles to buy equipment and summons from and gateways, which allow you to traverse further into the world map.
In each of the stories, you must wander around the world map, find gateways, and clear them. Clearing gateways is not as simple as just passing through it. You must defeat all the 'manikins' (a Square-ish word for enemy) in the gateway, which is like a chess board. The more manikins you defeat in a single turn (by using skills aqcuired in the world map or bought from moogles), the more KP you get. KP is currency used to buy stuff from the moogles.
All this sounds well and good, but what happens when you multiply it by 9000? This is all there's to it in the story mode, and unfortunately, the story mode is unpleasantly lengthy. Once you clear everything in the story, you won't want to come back for it, unless there's some summons or equipment you'd like to purchase from some particular moogles.
This is why you should buy this game.
Let's get straight to business. The main goal of a battle is to lower your opponent's HP to zero, which you should know by any video game you've ever played. But the trick is to use bravery attacks (circle button) to steal your opponent's bravery, which is the number of damage you'll inflict on your enemy once you land a HP attack (square button) on him/her.
You can also double jump as high (and as many times) as your current character can, you can run up walls, grind on handrails and energy lines, dodge and block. Blocking only works for bravery attacks, since most of them are pretty swift. HP attacks are usually a bit sluggish and can be easily dodged, if timed right.
You can/will collect EX force and EX cores, which fill your EX gauge, and when filled, you can transform into EX mode, and unleash your character's unique EX burst (damn that's a lot of EX). EX force is this tiny blue powder which every character drops when they get damaged. EX cores appear every now and then into random positions of the stage, and collecting them fills a huge part of your gauge. The EX bursts are special moves, that require you to do something (input buttons in a correct order, button mash, choose an attack etc.) for a powerful HP blow.
A new feature is the assist system. You can choose an assist character for your playable character, and when the assist gauge is full, you can call the assist character to either attack the enemy, or to take a hit instead of you, thus saving you from some nasty damage. This leads the players to come up with clever combos by messing with the assists.
The stages vary from tiny to huge and from complex to the ultimate point of simplicity. Coming to a total of 19 stages.
There's a ton of different bravery and HP attacks for each character, and the characters are all fully customizable. There's a range of 31 characters, but most of them are unlockable. The playable characters inclure the main protagonists of Final Fantasies I to XIII, and the main antagonists of Final Fantasies I to X and XII. Plus some other rather interesting characters from the series, such as Tifa Lockhart and Kain Highwind.
That pretty much sums it up, but believe me, there's a ton to play for here. Not a single match you play is similar to the one before it. You are being rewarded for each match you play, which feels good on so many emotional levels. And even only fighting against bots instead of your non-existent friends is fun. It just feels right to put Sephiroth in his place over and over again. Not to mention putting an end to the damn void-banter of Exdeath.
The graphics are simply beautiful. But I guess this isn't a miracle, since we're talking about a Square game here. Every special effect, dynamic object, background doodle and character model has been done with delicate care and it all looks well-polished.
The cutscenes of the oh-so-horrible story mode have been rendered in-game, and the facial emotions don't look so good. And when playing with a friend, if there's too much hassle on the battlefield and a lot of special effects pop up, the game suffers from a slight lag.
The musical score of Dissidia: Duodecim is pure fan-service. And if you're not a fan already, the soundtrack will make you one. There are popular tunes from past Final Fantasy games, some which are brilliantly remixed, and some left in their original amazing selves. You can even buy some of those ye-olde 8-bit songs from the in-game store such as "The town" from Final Fantasy I and "The Rebel Army" from Final Fantasy II.
The game is as lengthy as you want it to be. As long as you enjoy a good fight between some FF- characters, the game keeps you busy.
Sometimes, you just need a little more fantasy, and sometimes, a little less. But make no mistake, Dissidia: Duodecim will last forever.
As a short get-together, Dissidia: Duodecim is a hell of a game, packed with content, graphics and awesome gameplay that push the puny PSP to it's largest limits. The story mode is a huge minus, but luckily it is far from the game's actual point. Any PSP owner would love to have this game. Not a fan of the FF- series? Check out the top of this review.
+ Gameplay couldn't be any better
+ Sweet graphics
+ The soundtrack is amazing
- That damn mandatory story mode