Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy Review

Before I want this site going live, I told myself that I wanted at least one review in each of the four game sections.  This meant I needed one Vita review, one PlayStation Mobile review, one PlayStation Classic review, and one PlayStation Portable review up.  Vita and PSP reviews will be simple.  I have written reviews on games for those platforms in the past.  All I need to do is re-write the reviews from today’s perspective.

Today, I present you with a re-writing of a review I won an award for on Gamefaqs.com.  My personal favorite PSP game, and the second major fanservice fighting game by Square Enix, here is my review for Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy.

Back in 2011, Square Enix was giving out much support for Sony platforms, specifically the PSP.  PlayStation Classics like Legend of Mana and Parasite Eve were releasing alongside PSP games like Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection and Lord of Arcana.  They had games coming out, left and right, and in under a year’s time, they developed and released a sequel to the hit Final Fantasy brawler, Dissidia, codenamed “Duodecim”.

Dissidia 012 is a cross between an RPG and a 3D Fighting Game.  It took the original 22 characters from the original game and added a lot more to it into a game that fans of the franchise will seemingly never be able to completely finish.

~Story~

The story of the Dissidia mythos is that in an alternate version of the world from the original Final Fantasy, two deities are in a constant war over balance and control of the world.  Cosmos, the Goddess of Harmony and Chaos, God of Discord, are constantly summoning warriors to represent them and take the other down.  As you may imagine, Cosmos summoned heroes from the Final Fantasy series, and Chaos summoned villains.

The original game’s plot took place during the 13th “cycle” of war between the two deities, and Duodecim takes place during the cycle just before, Cycle 12.  This is how the game got it’s name of Duodecim, which is the Latin term for “12”.  In the original, the story focused on the heroes as they journey for a crystal that belongs to them.  In Duodecim, the main story focuses on the new characters and how the 12th cycle came to an end.

Along with the 012 scenario, Square Enix also included the entire Story Mode from the original game, along with a new scenario, called “Confessions of the Creator”.  This essentially makes owning the game redundant, as pretty much all content from the original game is here in Duodecim.

As far as dialogue is concerned, there is a bit of good and bad here.  The story isn’t as well-told as games in the Final Fantasy series, by far.  It’s a fairly simple story structure, and each character’s tale is told with elements that are similar to their original games’ plot.  The story of Dissidia is like taking one plot and morphing each chapter to sound like the same plot, but also like the plots of all of those different games.  It doesn’t come out too great, but what does happen fits each character that it happens to.

The original game’s story was nothing overly special.  While the 012 Scenario does improve on how the story is told, it is still nothing special.  The real appeal of this game comes from the gameplay and using your favorite characters, rather than indulging in a great story.

~Gameplay~

First, how long will the game last?  A really long time.  By the time I finished all three story scenarios completely, I had logged almost 100 hours into the game.

Playing the game and indulging in the Combat System is really where this game shines.  It’s got a lot of deep elements that makes some people wonder if it’s actually a fighting game or if it’s really an Action RPG in disguise.

Combat in Duodecim, just as in the original Dissidia, showcases two characters exploring and fighting in large, 3D arenas, mostly comprised of locations from games characters in the game were pulled from.  You can fight on stages from the Dimensional Castle from Final Fantasy V to the Planet Core from Final Fantasy VII.  In each area, there are destructible objects, as well as objects you can climb or glide across.

The fighting, itself, is made up of two types of attacks: Brave Attacks and HP Attacks.  Brave attacks deal damage to an opponent’s “Brave” statistic.  There is a number on each character that determines how much damage an HP Attack will inflict on an opponent.  Hitting an enemy with a Brave Attack will drain Brave Points from the enemy and add it to your total, boosting how much damage an HP attack will inflict.  When one person’s HP reaches zero, they lose.

There are some additions that were made for the new game.  First of all, the returning 22 characters got enhanced, balanced, and gifted with new abilities.  Some characters were very much “broken” in the original to the point where they had huge advantages over everyone else.  Square Enix balanced this out.  There is also much variety with the new characters, using abilities that reflect their abilities from their original games.

Assists have been added to the new game, which are characters you can equip to yourself before you enter a battle.  As you attack enemies, you build up an Assist Gauge, and once it is full, you can summon your Assist Character to attack your enemy at any given time.  They have preset abilities from their moveset, and with timing, you can create some very interesting combination attacks.

Another tweak to the gameplay is Story Progression.  The original game had Destiny Boards, where you moved across a board in a Chess-like manner to fight enemies, open chests, fight bosses, and progress into the next scene.  These are incorporated into Duodecim as Dungeons.  The rest of the world exploration has you exploring a 3D World Map with random fights roaming the map, along with you, and treasure chests and Moogle Shops hidden around the map as well.  The world is pretty vast, but in the final scenario of the game, there are warp points all across the map, where you can warp to, as long as it’s to a point you’ve already found.

Moogle Shops deal in Kupo Points (KP), that you earn in dungeons by performing specific tasks in battle, like finishing in a set amount of time, or finish without receiving any damage.  Once you find a Moogle Shop, you can use your points to buy equipment, items, materials, or summons.  Some inventory in the Moogle Shops are exclusive to those shops, so make sure to remember to get everything when you visit.  Some shops aren’t very easy to find.

Note that not all of the items in the game are available from these shops.  There is also the normal Shop in the Main Menu (along with where you equip weapons and armor, summons, assists, etc) where you can sell, synthesize, and buy new equipment as it is unlocked.

The last two things I will mention are new Modes and Downloadable Content.  New modes put into the game are Single Battles, Party Battles, and the Labyrinth.  Single Battles are one on one battles you can set up between any unlocked characters (More characters can be unlocked with the PP Catalogue, from PP that you earn from fighting) in any stage, and you can pre-set levels.  Party Battles are the same, but instead of being one on one, they are several battles, showcase two parties of five duking it out.  Finally, the Labyrinth.  This is a place with it’s own Shop that has you traversing through a large, digital labyrinth in the form of battles to get to the end as well as getting Labyrinth-exclusive equipment.

To make note, there is multiplayer in the game.  You can battle with others in one-on-one fights or Party Battles, but it is local multiplayer only.  The brighter side of multiplayer come from Artifacts and Quests.  When you fight an enemy in multiplayer, you have a chance of getting their equipment to drop, resulting in an Artifact version of that weapon.  Drop it enough times, back and forth, and it can get special properties, like an HP or Attack Boost.

The other major chunk of multiplayer is the ability to create and share Quests.  You have access to artwork and can create small story scenarios between battles, like some of the story scenes are in the game.  Some people have created pretty extensive quest series’ with this feature.

Finally, Downloadable Content.  Very few PSP games got DLC, but Dissidia 012 did.  The DLC included Music Packs for each represented game, along with costumes for several of the characters in the game.  Some of the music tracks ranged from Birth of a God from Final Fantasy VII to Eden Under Siege from Final Fantasy XIII.  Some costumes ranged from Cloud’s Kingdom Hearts attire to Yuna’s Gunner attire.  Note that to use the DLC on a PlayStation Vita, you will need it to be downloaded to a PlayStation 3 first and transferred to the Vita through Content Manager.

~Presentation~

The visual display of Duodecim is remarkable for the system it’s on.  The PlayStation Portable is a handheld with 3D visuals normally riddled with blurry faces and jagged edges.  While the characters have some jagged edges, especially when showing someone’s bare skin, the quality is much higher than usual Vita titles.  The visuals are about on par with games like Valhalla Knights 3 for the PS Vita.

The stages look much more polished than the character models, and the effects for abilities look sharp and spectacular.  Watching a fight in this game is a wonder to behold to newcomers to the series.  With this heightened graphical representation, there is little to no lag in the game.  You could potentially have two characters as well as two assists on camera at once with no lag.

Audio goes a little in two directions.  Music is as well as the series normally is, though some of the remixes of older tunes got mixed reactions with the fans.  Pandemonium from Final Fantasy II sounds a little more calming than walking through Hell should be, whereas Esper Battle from Final Fantasy XII got a little more exciting with a rock theme behind it.  The quality of the sound is good, as it was in the original.  Mostly where the audio comes down is with the voice acting.

Sometimes, it can be hard to add voices to characters who did not have them before.  There are some characters who have voice-actors that portray their characters well, such as Kain from Final Fantasy IV, and Kefka from Final Fantasy VI.  Others did not do such a wonderful job.  The voice-acting is hit-and-miss.  You will either love it or hate it.  On the bright side, you can turn off voices in battles if you so choose.

~Overall~

While the game is not perfect, it improves and adds enough onto the original to be an excellent pre-sequel, and any newcomers to the franchise will want to play this over the original.  It has a fun, addictive battle system, and enough characters to create a wild fangasm from any fan of the franchise.  It will keep you busy for a very long time.  While fanservice is the primary function of these games, it can appeal to those who enjoy action games and RPGs.

I would rate Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy an 8.5/10

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