Dissidia NT is a spinoff of Final Fantasy that taps into the online competitive side of gamers. Not your typical Final Fantasy game, that's for sure. I've known of this game since the PSP days but unfortunately, this is the first time I jumped into the series because I never owned a PSP. When it was announced that the arcade version of 2015 was going to come out on PS4, I was excited. I wanted to try it, so here we are! After putting some major hours into the game, I can finally give my thoughts. So let's check out the experience I gained from playing this Fantasy Brawl of Final Fantasy characters new and old.
The Fantasy is Real
It's easy to see that the game looks good character wise, environment, and gameplay wise. A lot of attention was put into making each character with every costume, every scene, and every movement. Whether in-game cut scenes, fighting in-game, and high quality cut scenes, mostly everyone can appreciate what was done to make sure that fans will recognize their favorite Final Fantasy character. And as for me, one will easily recognize that I am enamored with Terra; I've been fan of her since I played FFVI way back when but to see her in Dissidia, it's nostalgia leveling up!
Then there's the battle grounds. The world mirror popular locations from each Final Fantasy. For example, one will quickly recognize Besaid Island from Midgar, and then there are the stages that got an overhaul from the 8-bit graphics that they first appeared. Even with how crazy things were getting, I found a few moments here and there to glance at the environment. Definitely love the take on FFVIII's ending 'stage' and I adored how it was bleak and dream-like and how it shifts to a beautiful garden as if Rinoa was there with me.
Dissidia is a beautiful game. This is definitely Dissidia NT's strongest point. I can't say I have any real valid complaints when it comes to how the game looks and how it is presented aesthetically.
As far as what the game has to offer, it all depends on what a player is looking for. From
my knowledge, the previous Dissidia games focused on both the fighting aspect and RPG related elements. Dissidia NT basically stripped it down to bare bones and made it a fighting game with its own spin. Players will spend a majority if not all of their time diving online to take on other players on a 3vs3 match up to determine which team will emerge victorious. If not online, it's going to be delving into the gauntlet or create a sparring match against the AI. Honestly, the game lacks any variety when it comes to the way the fight is going to be handled, mostly just 3 on 3, defeat the others players and so on.
Now there are other things to do like the 'story' mode. Now this isn't the typical story mode that most fighting genre gets into. To get anywhere to see the story, players must win some fights online or offline to gain 'memoria nodes'. For those who are interested in seeing these events, one has to grind, grind, and grind through online and offline matches. And after the player gets a few hard earned memoria nodes, s/he will get treated to a baseline mediocre story that feels rushed, filled with some plot holes, and some moments with underused characters and/or missed character interactions.
But there are moments where the story strives to please those who are long time Final Fantasy fans. For me, it's seeing Terra's ineteractions with Kefka and her going against other Final Fantasy antagonists (she loses terribly to Sephiroth, which was expected).
Aside from the constant banter between AIs and other players from across the world,
there are modes like story trials (which is basically just replaying story events outside the story mode), core battles (obliterate the other team's crystal first) and then Boss/Summon battles. I especially love the Summon challenges. While they don't offer a whole lot of difference in regards to the gameplay, I felt as if they were a good way to teach someone about the characters they are playing without getting completely obliterated by a veteran player online. I felt as some tactics were gained from playing these games and in the end, it was a nice little homage to fight some classic and iconic characters of the franchise.
Then, of course, there's the treasure room and the shop where one can spend its hard earned rewards. There are three things to gain in battle: the first are memoria nodes, which we already talked about, gil, and treasure nodes. Gil you gain win or lose. Treasures, from my experience, gained from acquiring points, leveling up, and going through the story mode. Character skins, weapons, icons, titles, and music can all be gained/purchased through this option.
With fighting games, it's important to talk about the choices of fighters one can pick from. With the current addition being FFXV, one can imagine that there are a handful of characters to choose from. From FFI to FFX, there is the Materia champions and the Spiritus Champions; or should we say, the main protagonist and antagonists of the respected games. Though from FFXI-FFXV, there's only the protagonists (and FFIV having an extra character, Kain) so we're short a few villains in the fray. With the amount of characters they have, each one play distinctively different from each other and every one of them replicates their original source material. Cloud and Sephiroth mostly close ranger fighters, while Terra and Kefka depend a lot on magic from afar. Characters are place in their own class:
Vanguard - Up close and personal; strong hitters.
Marksman - The mage class. Able to barrage the enemy with spells from a distance.
Assassins - Quick, fast, and can link combos superbly well.
Specialists - The weird ones of the bunch because they can vary depending on the character; they feel like an amalgam of all the classes.
It's all about preference which one a player will pick. Preference in their personal favorite Final Fantasy, preference in which FF character they love the most, and preference in terms of how one wants to step into the ring. Each character has something to bring into the table and wishing to see more characters (My Wishlist) through DLC; and it's already confirmed that there will be DLCs.
The heart and soul of the game are the 3vs3 bouts online or offline. Since this is my first exposure to the Dissidia Series, it is definitely not the typical fighting game that I know and play. One can't just spam heavy hitting strikes right off the get go since there are two HP bars that players has to decrease: Bravery life and normal Hit points; one has to be able to chain some amazing brave attacks to lower the Bravery life and when their opponent's Bravery gauge is low enough, one can has to get a good HP attack in there to damage the Hit Points. Bravery gauge can heal while Hit Points won't. And while one is doing this to an opponent, a player must also be aware that it's not just one enemy, there's two others that are either too busy with your teammate or is about to get a sneak attack from behind.
With that said, you must also be able to know and use your character well. As I mentioned, every character has something different to offer so you must know how yours will play, how s/he can link bravery attacks and what HP attack suits your battle style. Knowing one's character (especially if you are new to Dissidia like me) is a huge part of being successful in this crazy fighting game.
Knowing the stages help a little since it's a very open arena fighting game. Since most games coming out around this time are the likes of Street Fighter and DBZ, it's crucial to note that this is not that kind of fighting game. Best describe it is that it reminds me of a 3rd person action adventure game within the realm of a fighting game. Players will spend a lot of time flying around the stage, dashing and dodging, while trying to incapacitate the opposing team.
Teamwork is one thing that a lot of online gaming lacks. It could literally be what gains the victory fanfare or the game over screen. If you are lucky enough to find teammates that are willing to have that open communication, take it and work together!
Victory may not always be guaranteed, but being able to at least orchestrate a plan and executing it will most likely pave the way to a few wins over solo matches where every player is trying to incapacitate one dying Onion Knight.
Melodies of the Fight
Music is an integral part of Final Fantasy and with Nobuo Uematsu leading the band (so to speak) for ages, the music of Final Fantasy is one of the best in my humble opinion. So where does Dissidia NT fall into in regards to the music? Considering that they borrowed some of their playlist from FFI to FFXV, it's already in good standards. Top it off, what they bring into the crowd (a lot of remixes of borrowed music) isn't bad at all. It's a good mix of old and new so I have none to complain about that. Voices lent to the game to represent some of fan favorite Final Fantasy characters aren't bad either. Some are great, some are alright but none of them annoyed me (some will recognize the voice actor/actress). Their one liners were expressed well and the cut scenes didn't make me want to cover my ears with a chocobo plush. Maybe the Moogle's voice was a bit agitating, but for the most part, it was a wonderful cast of Voice Actors and Actresses.
Now it does have its own issues, obviously. And where Dissidia NT falls short, it really does put a damper in its beautiful lay out. If I was to call out the one thing that really hurts this game is its lack of story mode. Everyone knows that Final Fantasy is about its story; whether or not the story is executed well or terribly, a Final Fantasy's focus is the narration and what is happening behind the scenes. Obviously Dissidia NT's main hook is its online gaming. And if its online gaming is close to perfect, maybe it won't be as bad but to be honest, there are plenty of glaring faults in its main presentation.
Waiting. One will spend too much time waiting to get a match in which can really kill the excitement. I remember waiting for at least five minutes to get a game in, only for the game to last less than two minutes, and then I was back waiting for another game. Then there are some games that are completely poisoned with lag. Either it's someone's connection, or the game is just malfunctioning, lag can kill the flow of the game entirely.
I also feel like taking away the RPG elements skinned Dissidia NT. Grinding to level up doesn't have as much incentive when you don't get more perks. Stats don't level up with you; although you get new EX skills, it's still not as satisfying as knowing that you gained a little edge from all your hard work. Weapons and costumes also don't have any other purpose than giving the character a new look. At the very least, the weapons should give a little bit more punch. Definitely missing those key things in a Final Fantasy game, fighting genre or not, really takes away from the whole experience.
Greet the New Dawn
In the end, I find myself addicted to Dissidia NT. Not a perfect game, but the flow of the game still has its redeeming qualities for me. The fact that I can see a character from FFX go against a FFIV cast is something out of a... fantasy. I have no doubt that Square Enix will patch this game with new features. With the coming DLCs in the horizon, there are definitely some positive changes that will keep this game fresh and perhaps even rectify it for some fans who were turned off form the initial sour taste. Would I recommend this? Depends. I'm a forgiving fan and I can look past a lot of what Square has done and not done. It's a beautiful game and it pays homage to the old and the new age of Final Fantasy. It also has potential. I believe that with what Square Enix has done with FFXV, they are going to try and do more things with their games just to revive and lengthen its life. Now as far as what should be free or paid content, that's up for debate.
A game that is definitely between two worlds; good and bad--and depending on who is playing, it might swing one way or the other. With that said, I hope this review helped a little bit for those who are on the fence still. For those who are playing it , I hope some of this resonates. I spent a lot of time really getting into this game in hopes that I can really give it a fleshed out review that does the game justice for what it was and will continue to do for the modern day gaming. Not a perfect game, but Final Fantasy Dissidia NT definitely has potential.
Until Next Time!