Preview: Dissidia: Final Fantasy Quickie Impressions

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Last week, Square Enix launched a playable Dissidia: Final Fantasy demo on the PlayStation Network, and while away this past weekend I spent some travel time playing around with it. There isn’t all that much to see in the demo, unfortunately, but it does provide a small taste of the flashy portable fighting action to come when the full game launches on August 25th.

Before getting into my impressions, though, here’s a quick recap of what’s included in the demo:

  • Arcade Mode with Normal and Hard difficulties. Both difficulties are four matches long with gameplay tutorials presented in between each match.
  • Five playable characters including Onion Knight from Final Fantasy III, Cecil from Final Fantasy IV, Terra from Final Fantasy VI, and Cloud and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.
  • That’s not a lot of content to go off of, but based on what’s featured in the demo Dissidia is exactly what I expected it to be: a 3D fighting game that is equal parts acrobatic, high-wire action, spectacular production values and Final Fantasy fan service.

    The combat, which draws inspiration from and feels fairly similar in execution to that of the Kingdom Hearts games, is based around a Bravery points system. By attacking with the Circle button, you take Bravery away from the enemy and add it to your pool, and the amount of Bravery you have determines how much damage you can then dish out when you attack with the Square button. You can also collect EX Cores as they spawn around the arena and enter EX Mode to activate special supermoves called EX Bursts.

    Each character has a unique EX Burst attack sequence, many of which you’ll instantly recognize from past Final Fantasy games. Cloud, for example, unleashes his Omnislash Limit Break after you mash on the Circle button to fill up a gauge, while the Onion Knight’s EX Burst requires you to cast the spell Holy, and to do so you have to go through the usual turn-based RPG menu selection process to find and select it within a certain period of time.

    The fighting mechanics, at least from what’s in the demo, aren’t incredibly deep — two basic attack buttons with a few variations based on the direction you press the analog nub and whether you are on the ground or jumping in the air, EX Bursts, and the abilities to block/evade and run up walls or grind on rails when prompted by yellow arrows — and like the Kingdom Hearts games the camera can struggle at times to keep up with the action as you run and flip around the screen. But overall the controls work well, the five included characters seem evenly balanced in their abilities, and the sheer spectacle of everything that happens on screen during a fight makes each bout feel like a scene straight out of Advent Children.

    Again, the demo isn’t much, but for me it’s been enough to solidify that my high expectations for the game will be met. If fighting around in a few Arcade mode matches is already this much fun, I can only imagine how much more satisfying it’ll be to dig into the full game’s story mode, in-depth character customization options and ad hoc community features.

    Get your pre-orders in now, PSP gamers! You’ve got three bonus item options to choose from: Limited Edition box covers from GameStop, a soundtrack CD (and $5 discount if you received a coupon code) from Amazon, and a nice desktop calendar from Best Buy.

    About the Author

    Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!