This was a game that like Crisis Core, was looking to do something a bit outside of the turn-based RPG realm that the Final Fantasy series was so well-known for. In fact, what Dissidia turns out to be is a one-on-one fighting game, using main heroes and villains from the first 10 Final Fantasy titles. This gave me a bit of pause, but then the experiment that was Crisis Core turned out quite well, so I thought this one merited a chance as well.
Graphics – 8:
Not as many great cut scenes as Crisis Core, but what was there sure looked good. The character models all look good. The game moves smoothly and I never noticed any slowdown or tearing from the visuals. All in all, the PSP acquits itself nicely on this game. My biggest complaint is actually the same one I had for Crisis Core in that the camera sometimes felt a bit clunky in its choice of angles.
Sound and Music – 8:
The sounds do the job, though there was not much amazing on that front. There was voice acting for all of the characters and cut scenes between levels. With so many characters the quality was bound to fluctuate with some of the characters being represented better than others. The music was a standout for me. Having played almost all of the prior games that inspired these characters and stadiums, there were a few fights in particular (Jecht, Sephiroth) that were just fun to hear.
Gamplay – 9:
The combat is not terribly complicated, but pulling off moves is easy and the large areas feel great – though some are more fun to navigate than others. The menu’s pretty overwhelming at first, but once you familiarize yourself with it, the interface is pretty solid. Combat is designed around an interesting mechanic – bravery and damage. Bravery is a sort of teeter-totter between you and your enemy. If you perform bravery attacks, your opponent’s goes down and yours goes up. However, the only way to win the fight is to do enough damage (hence, the damage attacks) to drain the opponent’s hitpoints. It is an odd sort of two-layered system, but essentially the bravery feeds your damage-dealing capability. It sounds more complicated than it is once you see it in action, and it adds an interesting layer of depth that really helps the game’s combat to succeed.
Intangibles – 9.5:
There is so much to do here. Loads of characters to take through storylines. A chess-like battlefield representing each level that begs to be replayed over and over (I generally go through each storyline 3 times before moving onto a new one), items to unlock and purchase, new skills to master, summons to find… and the game even has a constantly running calendar in the background that keeps track of the real date and time. Why? Because playing on certain games and in certain amounts can yield bonus to your experience, item, skill and gold earnings.
Overall – 9:
Probably my favorite PSP game to date, trumping Crisis Core by a bit. Crisis Core had a more engaging storyline, but there’s just so much to do in this game. And the battles in Dissidia remind me of the missions in Crisis Core – they’re short, bite-sized pieces of action perfect for the handheld medium in my opinion. Sure, with it’s callback to prior Final Fantasy games, Dissidia is a bit of a fan service game – but when it’s put together so well, I can’t find anything wrong with that.