Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy ReviewLouis Bedigian
It has been a long time since I've played an RPG just for the music. While I can't say that Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is one of those games, it most certainly could have been. Featuring a breathtaking collection of remixed (and most likely remastered) audio from previous Final Fantasy releases, Dissidia 012's score is an audio voyage back in time.
By far, this is the best way Square Enix could have started the latest chapter in this oddball action game. Lure players in with the cast on the box, encourage them to continue playing with a mesmerizing soundtrack, and keep them from leaving with an action-oriented battle system that draws heavily on the history of RPGs.
For those of you who are new to the series, Dissidia 012 uses two battle modes: one for RPG lovers and one for action aficionados. The latter system might as well be called the primary feature, because it is the only way you will want to play this game. When using the RPG mode, players are confined to menu-based moves while fighting battles that are technically being conducted in real time. With the action mode turned on, those restrictions are eliminated as players are free to attack, evade and move around the environment at will.
Like most Final Fantasy games (and most RPGs in general), Dissidia 012 likes to keep its battles separate from the rest of the world. Still, you shouldn't expect to find an endless world map in this game; while there are several maps that pull the game's familiar heroes out of the battlefield, Dissidia 012 takes a different approach to this design. In a way, the pre-battle map could be compared to a chess board, as players have the freedom to move around various points on the map not unlike a Super Mario World map and pick the enemies they wish to fight.
Once players have entered the battle, they will be treated to a combat system that could be described as a mix of Kingdom Hearts and Bayonetta. The former game's inspiration is obvious from the start: with a loose, light, and easy to execute attack system, Dissidia 012 is easily the darker cousin of the Square and Disney action/RPG series. The latter inspiration might be somewhat surprising (and perhaps unintentional) as the first Dissidia arrived before Bayonetta. In any case, Dissidia 012 is frantic, the enemies are vicious, and the visual style is colorful without presenting an upbeat or child-friendly image just like Bayonetta. The camera angles are also somewhat reminiscent of the Sega masterpiece.
Dissidia 012 relies on two primary attacks: HP (square button) and bravery (circle button). Aside from having the ability to jump, adjust the camera, and lock-on to enemies, there aren't many other actions to perform while fighting your foes. But it won't be long before you realize that you don't need more than the primary attacks to get the job done. While the game frequently borders on repetition, the battles are more often exciting than they are exasperating. Players who enjoy a good hack-n-slash action game will be blown away by what Dissidia 012 has to offer.
Of course, the battles are only one element. Gamers aren't coming to this game strictly for its Kingdom Hearts-inspired moments. They are coming partially if not entirely for the large cast of characters.
The cast includes Tifa from Final Fantasy VII (a fan favorite), Yuna from Final Fantasy X (another fan favorite), Kain from Final Fantasy IV, Laguna from Final Fantasy VIII, Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, and Vaan from Final Fantasy XII. As expected, the new plot does not match up with the history of each character (ex: Tifa's battle to save Midgar has no effect on her appearance in Dissidia 012). But in the world of cross-over entertainment, Dissidia 012 is fairly effective at blending the cast together. Just don't get your hopes up for a Final Fantasy-caliber story line. If you do that, you will surely be disappointed.
In the end, Dissidia 012 is the sequel fans anticipated: a fast-paced follow-up to the popular original. It isn't a mind-blowing addition to the RPG genre, but it is a solid action/RPG that is ultimately satisfying, engrossing, and completely worth your time.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.