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Preview: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

Square Enix collaborated with Team Ninja to bring us this interesting twist on the Dissidia franchise. Disclaimer: at the moment of writing the review, the game was in Closed Beta.

What is it?

A squad based arcade brawler featuring over 20 iconic characters from the Final Fantasy series. It’s a fast-paced, strategic and most of all a 3v3 PVP.

“YOU ARE SUMMONED BY THESE ALMIGHTY BEINGS TO ACT AS THEIR CHAMPIONS ON THE BATTLEFIELD”

From PSP to PS4

The first Dissidia Final Fantasy game was launched for the PSP back in 2008 as a part of the never-ending series’ 20th anniversary. The follow-up title Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy was released 3 years after that for the same platform. 6 years of absence and the discontinuation of the PSP later, Square Enix has released a new title for the next-gen console, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The story of the game is vague and digging through the internet has revealed that the events taking place in the game, are after the previous two Dissidia titles.

The story – yes, this game has a story – focuses on the conflict between Materia and Spiritus, whom respectively are the Goddess of Protection and the God of Destruction. You are summoned by theses almighty beings to act as their champions on the battlefield. There is no dedicated story mode, only a brawl fest which reveals new story elements to the vague plot.

Watch and learn

One thing that really annoyed me was that there is no playable tutorial. Instead, Square Enix decided that a video explaining the mechanics would suffice. I don’t know about you guys, but I learn from doing and not from watching. We live in the age of “I’ve learned it from a YouTube video” but I still like to try the controls before getting my ass kicked. The video ends with, and I quote, “now put everything you’ve learned to the test”. This is utterly ridiculous, because I learned absolutely nothing! Sure, it’s well explained, but that doesn’t make it any better. Dissidia misses the point entirely for new players – like me.

If you are that kind of person that is familiar with the series and know how it works, skip ahead and try out practice mode. Here you can battle the relatively hard CPU. It’s brutal, it’s bonebreaking, it’s pure brawl. You’ll enjoy the challenge and combat that’s pretty tricky to get into at first. Once you memorized all the controls, you can punish and break your opponent with unforgiving blows.

“IT’S BRUTAL, IT’S BONEBREAKING, IT’S PURE BRAWL”

Brains over brawl

The game praises itself as a strategic brawler, where working together is a surefire way of winning. You gotta mash your way to victory, all the while dodging incoming attacks. Once a certain meter filled up, you can summon a magical beast to fight alongside you. But the true tactical aspect is missing from the cue entirely. It almost plays like water down version of an MMORPG that had a crazy one-night stand with Tekken and birthed a drunk lovechild into the world.

DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY_20170728132311

The only real strategy this game has to offer would be to come up with a strong battle plan; flanking enemies, ganging up or defending. The lack of RPG elements is the big difference you’ll find between Dissidia and Final Fantasy. There are no taking turns or gurgling potions, just coordinately pressing buttons and presto, you win.

“THE ONLY REAL STRATEGY THIS GAME HAS TO OFFER WOULD BE TO COME UP WITH A STRONG BATTLE PLAN; FLANKING ENEMIES, GANGING UP OR DEFENDING”

Overwhelming

I was greatly confused by the UI who was slapped on the screen, taking up a big portion of my vision. The game has so much information to display, it becomes a blur of numbers and stats. It becomes very hard to focus as a myriad of colourful text pops up, encouraging you to unleash a massive attack upon your opponent and adding numbers to the tally. Amidst the chaotic letter soup, there is a rewarding feeling if you successfully hit an enemy. Points go flying higher than a balloon that’s been let off by a crying child, hitting the stratosphere before popping into a million pieces.

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Seeing those numbers stack up reminds me of those old arcade machines. It’s so satisfying stringing up combo hits, accumulating points like there is no tomorrow. That’s the spirit of brawler games that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT nails masterfully. The game is crafted with a love for the series and you notice it. It’s sad it comes on strong with its flashy jumble of cryptic words and doodads. Unless you know what they mean or how to play, enjoying the game to the fullest becomes very difficult.

“SEEING THOSE NUMBERS STACK UP REMINDS ME OF THOSE OLD ARCADE MACHINES”

Pretty on the outside

I’ve exposed the ugly side, so now it’s time for the beautiful one. The menu, the music and the atmosphere, it all just screams Final Fantasy. The developers nailed it with the infusion of the series DNA into game. The power of the PS4 also gives us some ludicrously good looking characters. The roster of +20 characters are rich in detail, and HD textures are not to be missed. Same goes for the arenas, which are small but believable. You can dash up trees to get away from the fight and come up with a clever tactic. It’s a clever mechanic I have yet to use to my advantage.

A very positive thing I found about the game is that it doesn’t try to razzle dazzle you with unnecessary gizmos. The concept is very clear – albeit poorly executed – and improves upon its predecessors legacy with a fresh new idea. Points for trying out a new concept for the franchise.

CONCLUSION
DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT IS AN INCOMPREHENSIBLE BUT STILL PLAYABLE MESS”

There is still a lot to be desired, but the game does what it does best: brawl. Don’t expect a convoluted story line or single player camping, there is none of that. Diehard fans will love it, I personally don’t. The game is a huge mess of obtuse mechanics and pretty graphics. It’s fun and entertaining for about 5 min before you get bored of the very stiff and shallow gameplay. The future of the game is unpredictable, especially in its current state. If Square Enix would fix the UI, the game would be almost perfect. It still needs a lot of polishing before it can hit the shelves.

Let’s just hope the final retail version of the game won’t just be another fantasy.

Pro’s:

  • True brawler
  • Improves upon the legacy with new idea
  • Next-gen ready

Con’s:

  • Shallow and stiff gameplay
  • Unfriendly and cluttered UI
  • Incomprehensible gameplay

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