To my own amazement, the Dissidia demo hit PlayStation Network at the end of June, and somehow missed my attention for almost two weeks (that’s what finally starting Mass Effect does to you). Needless to say, the moment my eyes found the PSP demo available my bandwidth immediately went towards downloading 76 megabytes of glorious fan service.
While Dissidia has been available in Japan for a while now, and others, including Gamer Limit’s own Christoper Matulich and Chris Carter, have demoed the game via E3 and other similar conventions, this demo was my first hands-on experience with the game. Find out more about Dissidia after the jump.
The idea of a Final Fantasy mash-up fighter has been something myself, along with many others, have been dreaming of for quite some time given the great unique characters the series has spawned. However, I was still hesitant to fully embrace Dissidia leading up to the demo since I still had distant echoes of Ehrgeiz etched into my gamer soul back on the PS1.
I need to get this out of the way: Dissidia will very likely go down as one of the absolute best PSP titles ever. With the total hours I’ve put into the Dissidia demo I could have beaten God of War: Chains of Olympus twice and put a very sizeable dent into Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. My skepticism went out the window after a half hour with the game, and thus, my interest level for this game propelled from want to need.
Dissidia’s demo only lets you play through arcade mode on either normal or hard difficulty. None of the leveling up features or story mode features that accompany the final game are present. The demo lets you play as five characters (four heroes, one villain) listed below:
- Onion Knight (Final Fantasy III)
- Cecil (Final Fantasy IV)
- Terra (Final Fantasy VI)
- Cloud (Final Fantasy VII)
- Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
The arcade mode puts you up against a series of foes in one-on-one fights, like a typical arcade mode found in a fighting game. Stats and abilities are preset for every character, both on normal and hard mode, so the fights are even for the demo. Your chosen foes in each battle consist of other characters in the game (Squall, Garland, etc.). I logged most of my time playing as Sephiroth & Cloud, since Final Fantasy VII is my personal favorite of the series. However, I did give every character a couple of sessions on arcade mode to get a feel for them.
Each character I fought as, and against, seemed respectably different from the others giving a nice taste of variety and style required to make each fighter effective. Cloud, for example, is a sword fighter with a great deal of power but has a bit of a build-up before each attack, making him a close range fighter who requires a lot of precision and good timing. Terra, on the other hand, uses a lot of spells and ranged attacks while having a sword as a close ranged backup, and thus, distance must be used to make her effective. Then there’s Kefka, who seems to fill the Voldo role as the odd chaotic fighter in the game and fights just like his character would: a dirty little bitch.
The demo effectively teaches you the gameplay through a few quick slides that appear during loading screens. In short, square and circle perform your HP and assisting attacks, triangle allows you to run up walls or grind along rails, X jumps, the left shoulder button controls what you’re locked onto, and the right shoulder button lets you block, and can be used along with triangle to perform a dash.
The combat in Dissidia proved to be much deeper than what I was expecting for a PSP fighter. Simply mashing the square button might get you through a battle or two on normal mode, but once you get to the later stages of the demo’s arcade mode, both on normal and hard, you’ll find that your foe will not tolerate one dimensional attacks.
Saying timing is key might seem obvious, given that it’s usually a key factor in any fighter, but precision timing with both attacking and blocking seems even more key in Dissidia. A majority of the attacks in the game seem to have a specific range to them where they are most effective. Thus, being too close or too far away while attempting an attack or spell will result in the enemy countering or avoiding the attack.
Every character’s attack is a combination attack or spell rather then a single jab or attack like a traditional fighter, so using poor or hasty judgment with your attacks will result in a very emphatic punishment. The same can be said about rolling or dodging as well. When everything is rolled together, battles can become quite intense and epic resulting in confrontations you’d expect to find in Advent Children rather than a fighter. Don’t believe me? Go find some Youtube Dissidia replays, like this one, and tell me otherwise.
Dissidia’s visuals are rather impressive given it’s reliance on handheld technology. The style of the game seems reminiscent of a slightly more anime-styled version of Kingdom Hearts. The character models are quite impressive in their levels of detail, and each character’s animations seem to flow nicely from one to another. The arenas themselves seem to be the one potential weak point visually, only because they seem to be a mixed bag of good and bad. Textures on walls seem a tad repeated and some levels look slightly on the bland side, like the Final Fantasy VI level, while others are very impressive, such as the the Final Fantasy X Zanarkand level.
This mixed bag of levels seems to make up for things in regards to their interactivity and surprisingly high amount of destructible objects. Pretty much every wall you see can be scaled with no magic goofy invisible barriers blocking the way, while platforms and pillars seem to be fair game in the destruction market. It makes a fight feel a lot more epic seeing Sephiroth crash through a series of pillars in order to get to Squall instead of flying around them.
One thing I cannot stress any more is how impressed I am with the levels of detail that are put into the game to make each character feel very authentic. Terra fights with the Atma Weapon and not a generic nameless sword. Item and spell windows for each character resemble the style that was used in their respective game. Each character/level seems to be accompanied by various themes from each respective game (like FFX’s battle theme and Zanarkand theme), and Sephiroth’s Hell’s Gate attack is the same stab that slew poor Aeris.
Dissidia appears to be filled with things, both little and large, regarding each character that can make die-hard fans of their respective game squeal with childish delight, and I can only imagine how much more the full game will have. It seems SquareEnix might have their finger on the pulse of the die-hard audience and are delivering what the people want in terms of authenticity.
If you have a PSP and want a good game, I’d highly recommend picking up Dissidia, or at the very least, give the demo a ride around the block. If you’re a die-hard Final Fantasy fan, this game should be a day-one purchase for you, and if you don’t own a PSP, this game should really make you consider buying one. Needless to say, August 25th is really going to be a brutal day for me as both Arkham Asylum and Dissidia hit the shelves simultaneously.