Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy Review

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Although the PSP is starting to lose its shine as the Next Generation Portable is coming later this year, there are still games out there worth picking up for the PSP. To name a few, The 3rd Birthday and the much awaited follow-up title to Dissidia, Duodecim Final Fantasy are both solid PSP titles. For those who enjoyed Dissidia back in 2009, Duodecim is here to bring back some of your favorite Final Fantasy characters in the series and offer a new type of gameplay and characters.

What are the major differences between Duodecim and Dissidia? Is Duodecim a worthy sequel, and does it warrant your hard-earned money? Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs of Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy to find out!

HOT

New Playable Characters
In addition to the characters we’ve played in Dissidia, Duodecim adds eight more characters from the Final Fantasy universe. The new characters in Duodecim such as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, Laguna in Final Fantasy VIII, Yuna in Final Fantasy X, and Vaan from Final Fantasy XII, will carry most of their signature moves and attacks. There are several hidden characters in the game that are unlockable by finishing certain tasks and they are usually worth the effort. Similar to the first title, these new characters will have their own story to tackle and just like an RPG, you can customize their equipment before heading into each battle.

Same Battle System w/ New Assist Mode
Nothing has changed in the way the battle system works in Duodecim. For those who played Dissidia, gamers can still switch from action to an RPG style when it comes to the battle system. To win a fight, you must carry more brave points than your opponent and do a finishing attack to win. To carry more brave points, attack the enemy with the circle button, and with every attack you land you essentially steal their brave points. If you’ve been playing Dissidia recently, Duodecim’s battle system should feel very familiar.

A new addition to the battle system of Duodecim is the ability to have an assistant when battling. Just like in some fighting games, other characters can jump in to assist you in taking down an enemy. In Duodecim, you will have an opportunity to do this whenever you are in the middle of an intense fight with your opponent. The attacks that the assisting characters will have are pre-determined. The only way that you can summon the assisting character is by increasing the assist meter by continuously attacking the opponent successfully. While this is only a small addition to the fun and addicting battle system of Duodecim, it makes a big difference by allowing for new combinations and more exciting combat.

New Story Mode
Recent Final Fantasy games that Square Enix released have lacked a world map. In Duodecim, Square Enix finally brings the world map back in the story mode of the game and allows us to fully explore the world of Duodecim. Just like in the past Final Fantasy games featuring a world map, there are on-screen enemies that you will have to fight, treasure chests to discover, and areas to explore. Exploring the world map will bring back old memories from classic Final Fantasy games for anyone who is familiar to the series.

The areas that you will enter from the world map will bring you to the same chess board-type level progression where you will have to move from one location to the next until you reach a marker that clears the level. Instead of getting DP, you will now earn KP, which stands for KUPO POINTS, which you can use to trade with the Moogles that you meet on the world map. These Kupo Points are obtained by clearing a level and winning a fight.

New Extras
Duodecim offers a lot of extras for players to enjoy. Duodecim Prologus, set for release before Duodecim, will give players an opportunity to have Aerith from Final Fantasy VII transfered over to the retail version of the game where she can be used as an assist character. If you’ve been keeping the Dissidia save file in your memory stick, transferring the save data to Duodecim will transfer the equipment and levels that the characters have on the first game.

A new feature that is noteworthy is the ability to create a quest, share it to everyone via MogWeb, and play it. In the new feature, players will have the power to create their own battles, change the length of time of each round, set background music, choose character icons in the dialogue boxes, and a lot more. Whenever you are done with the quest, you can upload them via MogWeb and let everyone in the world play your creation.

NOT

Story is Weak
Dissidia has never been a story-oriented game that Final Fantasy fans will appreciate. In Duodecim, the story is as weak as the first one. There are different scenarios that you will have to go through and their story is not as strong as the ones you will find in a Final Fantasy game. It’s pretty much the Cosmos versus Chaos, just like in Dissidia. To finish the story mode, you will have to play through all the scenarios of the characters in the game and go through the chessboard type gameplay.

Mediocre Voice Overs
While the presentation of Duodecim is as impressive as the first one, the only thing that kills the moment when watching those CG cut scenes are the voice overs. We’re not really used to hearing voices from classic Final Fantasy games, but in Duodecim characters such as Kain, Tifa, and Laguna have mediocre voice overs. While they don’t completely ruin the experience when watching some scenes, there will be some hardcore Final Fantasy fans, like myself, who will not appreciate their voices. If you’ve played Final Fantasy XIII, you will be happy to hear that they managed to retain Lightning’s voice.

Feels like Dissidia…
When a sequel comes out for a game, it must give us the feeling of a completely new game, while at the same time maintaining its connection to the previous title. In Duodecim, I felt like I was playing Dissidia. Sure, new characters and the assist character features are nice additions to Duodecim, but they’re not big enough for me to really notice that they are there. The only addition that I’ve really noticed and appreciate is the ability to make quests, but the success of that new feature depends on players taking advantage of it and making the community grow.

VERDICT

Just like its predecessor, Duodecim: Final Fantasy offers the same amount of fun for an enjoyable experience. The new assist and playable characters that the game has to offer are a nice addition for anyone who loves brawling with other Final Fantasy characters. Similar to Dissidia, Duodecim fails once again in crafting a good storyline, and essentially it’s pretty much the same game as Dissidia. If you’ve been thinking of getting into the Dissidia series, I suggest purchasing the first one and only picking up Duodecim if you are really interested in experiencing the new additions.

[Editor’s Note: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy was reviewed on the PSP platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]