The original was a big hit amongst Final Fantasy fans, so it’s no surprise to see a follow-up effort from Square-Enix. Admittedly, it’s a bizarre title but this sequel seems capable of pleasing both fans of the original and newcomers alike, and that’s because the returning elements and fresh additions will be welcomed. For instance, there wasn’t much of a storyline in the first Dissidia, and the developers have taken this complaint to heart when creating Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy. It seems the story will play a much bigger role and in fact, the next game will be a prequel that leads us to the ultimate war between Cosmos and Chaos. Gaps from the original storyline will be filled in and the plot will expand. This is good news, especially for those who believe all FF games – regardless of theme and style – should feature a robust and interesting storyline.
As for the gameplay, the original formula returns with several changes and tweaks, some of which are significant. First off, you will attack with the Circle button and damage your opponent’s Bravery bar; once that’s gone, it’s time to take down the HP. Once you’ve accumulated enough power, you can unleash devastating attacks with the Square button, and each character will have his or her own unique method of assault. Square-Enix will be overhauling some of the returning fighters; such characters will have new combat maneuvers and skills. And of course, the new characters will be sporting abilities we’ve never seen before: Lightning from FFXIII can fire her weapon, for instance, and Zidane dual-wields a couple blades and runs circles around the helpless enemy. Speaking of characters, you can expect to see Kain, Cloud, Cloud of Darkness, Tidus, Vaan, Tifa, Tina, Cecil, Frioniel, Onion Knight, and Jecht. The best part? Customization will be a huge deal, and there will be thousands of items to unlock!
The EX system will make a return as well, but it will be in upgraded form. You still obtain EX by picking up items scattered about the battlefield and once you’ve loaded up, you can unleash the crowd-pleasing finishing moves. But this time, they’re including a revenge meter, which is reminiscent of other fighting franchises like Street Fighter. Basically, when you’re getting mauled, you can use your gained EX to either escape a nasty combo or perform a cool counterattack. This should really add to the overall strategy of each battle and to further increase the depth, there’s the new Assist Mode, where a tag team partner drops in to help. Your friend lurks just off the screen, waiting for the signal to join in the fray, and on defense, you can bring him (or her) in by holding the left shoulder button and tapping the Circle button. When on offense, a partner can be used to extend combos, which will also give you time to prep the next assault.
The environments should also receive a makeover; they’ll be prettier and more numerous than before. Some of the combat landscapes should be quite large, too, and that’s where time and distance can be another ally. If you’ve got some space between you and your opponent, you can formulate a plan of attack, and you can also retreat to a safe distance if you’re getting pummeled. Lastly, the new Role-Playing Mode…no, it isn’t what it sounds like. It’s more like a tutorial for newbies: your character moves around the battlefield automatically, tool tips remain on the screen, and you’ll always see which skill is mapped to which button. In this way, you only have to look at the screen and press the corresponding button to succeed. It might be good for the unfamiliar but it seems like something the returning fans will bypass. Too bad this mode isn’t about picking your own all-star FF team and heading out on a turn-based RPG adventure.
Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy should release in the US this year; we just don’t know when, exactly. Stay tuned for more info as 2011 progresses.
1/11/2011 Ben Dutka