Pretty much anything with the Final Fantasy name on it is bound to sell; those with Tidus undies and Onion Knight-themed socks will buy it no matter what. So what about a Final Fantasy fighting game? Is it any good, or has Square Enix decided to churn out some rubbish to make a quick dollar?
Upon first loading up the game, I had no knowledge of the gameplay; to be honest I was expecting a Final Fantasy-themed Street Fighter. Dissidia is more of a mix between Bushido Blade and Virtual-On. Battles take place on a 3D map in which you are free to run around. Because of this movement, the fighting flows completely differently than a conventional brawler. Instead of a large range of buttons and moves, Dissidia has two.
Okay, so I'm simplifying things perhaps a little too much. There are two main types of attack, an 'HP attack' and a 'Bravery Attack'. HP attack directly attacks the other player's health, while attacking the other player's bravery basically strips them of defence. If you manage to do this a few times, your next HP attack will prove brutal. At first this seems perhaps overly simplistic but the game does open up a bit as you progress and you will start to use the environments and the special EX Core attacks more. Often attacks will require a quick time sequence of events, so awareness of these and some pretty sharp reflexes are also needed to succeed at Dissidia. Often battles become a backwards and forwards quick time battle as one player tries to attack and another to counter.
Where Dissidia really sets itself apart is how much meat there is to the game. There are heaps of game modes, and these usually branch out even more. Of course you also have stats, and maxing out a few characters takes some serious game time. If you are a completionist, this game will literally last you a hundred hours. It's no surprise that the story mode holds the most substance. In this mode you navigate maps via a grid loaded with items and characters. You have a limited amount of moves, but beating opponents in certain ways will let you move around more without losing points. Unfortunately I wasn't able to try the multiplayer which should be entertaining - if you have an evenly matched rival.
Of course it wouldn't really be a Final Fantasy without more items than you can point a ridiculous sized sword at. This is something Dissidia delivers in spades. You will be rewarded with new odds and ends for almost everything you do, with the game even asking you what day you play it the most so it can give you bonuses. It's a good idea to keep up to date with your items too as these alter your stats drastically and can change the outcome of your next match-up. Luckily items are really well thought out and you can easily change them between characters when you tackle differing quests.
As always, presentation here is top notch. Once you wipe up all the drool from the opening cutscene, you will notice that this level of polish is evident throughout the game. Animation is smooth and the special effects are suitably punchy. Because the action is 3D and battle often takes place mid air, this game feels like an interactive version of the final fight in Advent Children. This really does help you feel like a badass and makes the gameplay that much more satisfying. The music that complements all this is up to the usual standard too, and to play without a decent set of headphones should be a crime.
Because of the unusual gameplay characteristics, Dissidia is not a pick up and play game. You really have to invest yourself into the experience to really get anything out of it. Once you do though, the bite sized battles are a great way to pass five minutes. Dissidia also does an awesome job of rewarding Final Fantasy fans with all kinds of fan service from the franchise's back catalogue and matching characters against each other. You don't have to be a big fan to enjoy this game, but if you are, feel free to add an extra point onto this review. If, however, quick time events make you queasy, stay clear. There's lots to love about this game, but it's only for certain gamers, so I'd suggest, where possible, to try before you buy.