Out on the floor on E3, many people could be overheard saying that 2009 is truly the year of the portable, as the sheer volume of titles being released over both the PSP and the DSi (not to mention the announcement of the PSP Go!) are nearly overwhelming.
Some garner more attention than others, and yet one shines brighter than all the rest, bringing together some of the most celebrated characters in videogame history for the first time ever: Dissidia: Final Fantasy.
As the demo opened, I was met with the choice of five very familiar, very beloved characters from the time tested Square Enix series. Choosing between The Onion Knight from Final Fantasy III, Cecil from IV, Terra from VI, and Cloud and Sephiroth proved to be very difficult, as each contains a certain nostalgia that appeals to any fan of the series. But after a short time, I just couldn’t resist that opportunity to control complete devastation with my fingertips via the most classic, evil son-of-a-bitch Final Fantasy has seen: Sephiroth.
As the game introduced me to the controls, I couldn’t help but notice that an extensive load screen accompanied each and every battle – something that got my panties in a twist pretty early. However, as soon as the game booted, and the fantastic visual display hit my eyes, the load times were quickly forgotten. Sporting graphics that rival the best the PSP has to offer, Dissidia looks very much like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, supplemented by intense, over-the-top, high flying action reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children.
Fights occur 1-on-1 in a relatively open world that is surrounded by an invisible wall, much like many other games of the genre that don’t include an option for ringing-out your opponent. As I prepared for my first battle with Sephiroth (“randomly” paired with a familiar yellow spiky haired individual), I adequately searched my surroundings, finding that with a tap of the triangle button, I could scale mostly anything that looked climbable. This feature becomes vital in battling your opponent, as most of the fighting I experienced occurred as Sephiroth and Cloud free floated in the air. As I landed on the ground and Cloud continued to keep himself afloat, I found quickly that I would need to do the same in order to take out his gangly ass.
Combat essentially breaks down to three aspects: HP attacks, bravery attacks, and EX Burst (or Limit Breaks). HP attacks, as the name implies, are direct attacks on the opponents HP – the primary way of HP depletion, in fact. Bravery attacks, which damage an enemy’s attack power while simultaneously raising your own, are your second main attack, but do not deal any HP damage. Although highly energized, basic combat quickly turned to repetitive use of one or two attacks that quickly became unimpressive.
However, as I maxed out my EX Gauge and entered EX Burst and watched Sephiroth quickly perform a flashy, fluid Octaslash, finishing off Cloud with a very familiar Nova looking spell, I fell completely in love. EX Burst effectively saves the combat from becoming dull and stale, and what makes a good game a great one. Be sure to look for Dissidia: Final Fantasy on the PSP August 25th.