Let's clear the cheap joke up first - yes the game has a rather absurd name: Dissidia 012 (pronounced 'Duodecim') Final Fantasy will be a bit of a mouthful when you ask for it in your local retailer.
However, the most important word in that opening sentence is 'when'. If you've a serious interest in the JRPG series this fighting-game-come-RPG is based on, Dissidia 012 is a must.Deserving of a winner's Garland
Though it's unclear whether DDFF is canonical within the Final Fantasy universe, it's most certainly the purest fan service, the ultimate game of 'who would win in a fight between...?' for the digital era.
As well as the entire cast of the original Dissidia outing making a return, Duodecim brings more favourites from across the FF spectrum into the fold, increasing the tally to around the thirty mark from all 13 of the main entries in the series.
Two gods - Cosmos and Chaos – having summoned heroes from alternative realms to fight their cause. Each character picks his side and what plays out is your typical Light versus Dark, Good versus Evil JRPG narrative.
It's not ground-breaking, but it does justify a premise allowing protagonists and antagonists of very different times and societies to exist within the same space.
Although there are a few dodgy translations and overly dramatic lines of dialogue, the characterisation is generally strong, with Dave Wittenberg's Kefka stealing the show whenever the loveable psychopath is on screen.
Kefka is at home in this pantomime, relishing the absurd theatricality of the situation the characters are placed in, and Wittenberg's performance injects a great deal of energy and humour to the otherwise conventional JRPG proceedings.Cross Header: Fast as Lightning
The focus of DDFF is split 50/50 between the importance of becoming proficient at Power Stone-esque combat – albeit without the importance of environment and pick-ups that Capcom's brawler had – and the more traditional stat-management and levelling of a Final Fantasy.
Combat is largely placed upon the Square, Circle, and X buttons.
The first of these is set to HP Attacks that reduce the health of an opponent, similar to every other brawler released in the last two decades. How much damage you'll do is based on your Bravery, built primarily by stealing that of your opponent with the Circle button using Bravery Attacks.
Both of these are further defined by whether you are pushing towards or away from an enemy and which types of attacks you have equipped prior to a battle.
There aren't combos in the fighting game sense of the word, though moves can be linked together.
Facilitating this is the Chase ability, set to X, which you can use directly after you launch an opponent into the air. Chasing your adversary gets you up close and enables you to face off in a risky back-and-forth mind game. For those who played the first Dissidia, Chasing is much faster in this sequel, better fitting the frenetic flow of fighting DDFF aims for.
Equally important is learning to read the telltale signs of when an opponent will launch an attack and quickly recognising which manoeuvre it will be, to successfully dodge or block the incoming sword strike, energy ball, hail of bullets or one of the numerous other techniques lifted directly from the main games.
It's complex but satisfying stuff, rewarding those that invest the time into it. It's not without its issues: the AI can be a little wonky at times and the camera is occasionally unhelpful, especially when you're backed into a corner, but these are minor dents in the game's otherwise shining Mythril armour.
Outside battle, your hero – of which you'll play as a good selection throughout the bread and butter Story mode – is only as good as the numbers, equipment, and skills attributed to him.
Which combination of attacks will you bring to each battle? Which assist character will help you out of sticky situations? Which trinkets will you assign to boost base stats such as Defence or Luck to aid you in your quest?
This abundance of options and customisation opens up a wealth of depth to the audience that will be putting hundreds of hours into the title, though there's happily an Optimise option too for those who find all this a little daunting.
The sheer number of accessories and items on offer also goes to the excellent sense of continual progression the title provides. You're almost constantly unlocking nicknacks and earning points to spend on bonuses.
Combined with the comprehensive save system, allowing you to record progress practically anywhere in the game, this makes for a very portable RPG experience that can be enjoyed in short bursts, as well as extended periods of play.Kuja want any more?
The game looks and sounds great - it's clearly a priority release for Square Enix.
Cut-scenes are expectedly high calibre and the game engine takes advantage of the compact battlefields to fill them with destructible elements and a good level of detail, crucially maintaining a steady framerate.
Ad-hoc multiplayer is included, letting players take their unique Player Card into large lobbies to compete in standard Vs combat, though the rules of engagement can be tweaked to level the playing field and provide more interesting battles.
The lack of true online will hold the release back in Europe, but get some mates together and you can sink hours into it.
It's fan service, but it's high quality fan service. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is a wonderfully complete experience, offering long invested fans a greatest hits collection of their favourite games, while still giving newcomers a satisfying and long-lasting RPG combat experience.