Dissida: Final Fantasy First Impressions (Sony PSP)

dissidia 1So the demo for Dissidia hit the Playstation Network yesterday and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Most of that comes from my deep dark desire to pummel Tidus from FFX into the ground for about ten hours or so, but I digress.

Now it should be noted that the demo seems to be nothing more than a tutorial for the game’s combat system and doesn’t feature any of the level progression or any other of the RPG elements at all. It also doesn’t give you any of the story. What’s here is a a short romp with five of the game’s 22 characters. Each one has four opponents to fight and before each battle you’re given a little more information regarding the game’s mechanics.

If you’re wondering who’s playable, they would be Onion Knight from FFII, Cecil from FFIV, Terra from FFVI, and Cloud and Sephiroth from FFVII. You won’t actually be able to mix and match these to your heart’s content in battles. However, the game makes up for that by giving you a good number of enemies to fight, even if they aren’t playable. Kefka from FFVI was simply awesome.

Anyway, you’re given the choice between normal mode and hard mode. Hard mode definitely packs a challenge later thanks your opponent actually using strategy and dodging attacks at a high frequency.

The battle system is a bit different in this game. Two combatants will square off in a fully 3D environment. You’ll notice you have a ton of information on screen. For one, you have Brave points. Using attacks with the circle button, you’ll need to lower your opponent’s brave while increasing your own. Brave represents how much damage you do when you use HP attacks with the square button. If you knock someone’s brave down to zero, they’re susceptible to critical attacks and will take massive amounts of damage. The goal here is to wipe out your opponent’s HP, but the addition of the Brave adds a little bit of a strategic edge here, as you’ll need to decide when to use either types of attack.

One problem I had with the game were the attacks themselves. There were far too few of them. In fact, there seem to be only two for each attack button. There aren’t even the simple combos you see in most game. Hitting circle will result in an attack that may or may not hit a multiple of times, but will leave you with nothing to do for a few seconds while the animation plays out for instance. Now, I’ve heard there are extra attacks you can unlock in the main game and that you’ll also be able to assign them, but what’s here is just not enough. I also can’t understand how they didn’t include some sort of combo system where you alternate between HP and Brave attacks. It just seems like something obvious the dev team could have done.

dissidia2One of the goals of gameplay is to grab the EX core. Utilizing this thing will allow you to go into EX mode. Your damage will be increased, and you’ll have the ability to perform a limit break of sorts that more often than not will end the battle all together. On the harder difficulty, it wasn’t as much of a finisher, and I’ve seen videos online when it did a more reasonable amount of damage, but characters also had gained levels there.

The game definitely has a Kingdom Hearts II feel to it. You’ll have moments where you can tap X to zoom in on a hurt foe to continue the onslaught, and those aforementioned limit breaks require various commands to be input to get them to work to their fullest. You’ll also be able to lock on to your opponent and zoom in towards him, as well as interact with the environment using context sensitive actions. This usually results in you running up a wall or something similar.

The camera can get in the way a bit too. You can manipulate it using the directional pad, but you’ll have to take your hands off of the analog nub in order to do it, which could hurt you more than a bad camera angle by far.

One last thing to mention is that the presentation is pretty solid. The models look great are a fantastic representation of the original designs. The music is pulled from every game in the series as well as some new stuff created just for the game. It looks and sounds great. Of course, what else would you expect from a Square-Enix game?

All told, there are some interesting if not flawed ideas at work in this demo. One most assuredly can not judge the full game by this, but it does whet your appetite a bit. I’m hoping there will be a bit more depth in the combat system more than anything, and I can’t wait to see how the leveling system affects how you play the game.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy for the PSP is set to hit stores on August 25th. Be sure to check here soon after that for my review.

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