Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Available on: Playstation Portable
Final Fantasy has had a very large and diverse cast of characters. A fighting game requires just that. Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy, while being a confusing title, is an extremely well made fighting RPG mix with tons of content. It just require ignoring its woefully bad story.
Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy’s story is a prequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy. Two gods, named Chaos and Cosmos, are waging war against each other. Both gods proceed to pick out champions, various characters from the Final Fantasy games, to fight their battles for them. The characters find themselves without any memories of their lives before the war and with no purpose other than to fight, but they slowly gain them back when they fight. The story mostly centers around the 6 new characters: Lightning, Vaan, Yuna, Tifa, Kain, and Laguna. It’s an interesting premise, but it botches the execution so badly it’s almost baffling. The game introduces a few plot strings that seem like they’re interesting. Then they’re all suddenly dropped for no reason. Kuja spending the first chapter hinting at his plan to end the war? Never brought up again. Kefka trying to manipulate people into fighting each other for shits and giggles? Promptly vanishes after the second chapter, only bothering to show up as an end game boss for no reason. Vaan saves Terra? She promptly vanishes and is never brought up again. Even Cosmos’ main task to the six characters, going to find their crystals so they can become powerful enough to defeat Chaos, is forgotten about half way through the game for a different plot point.
There’s just so much wrong with the game’s plot. At one point Cloud of Darkness tells Laguna what Chaos’ plan is. Why? I don’t know, she just does. Then they get all surprised later when Cosmos’s champions know their plan. At another point in the story Kain decides to kill Cosmos’ champions under the logic of “if we lose now we win later” which makes no fucking sense. Naturally this plan was given to him by one of Chaos’ champions. Even the simple thing of “memories come back due to fighting” doesn’t go properly. Yuna has all her memories back without a single fight under her belt, while Tifa goes fight happy and never gets a single memory back the entire game. Some characters are also suspiciously absent from the game: Cloud, Squall, Sephiroth, Onion Knight, Shanttoto, and Judge Gabranth are all missing from the story for some reason.
Still, this is a fighting game. Even though it tries to play its story up as something big the real focus should be on the gameplay, and in this area Duodecim is great. As a fighting/RPG mix you’ll be leveling your characters up and equipping them with items to help boost their stats. You also have to equip their abilities and manage your AP points so you can have what you need equipped. Each of the 33 playable characters have their own little quirks. Lighting can switch between three different stances, each with their own abilities, while Cecil can switch between his dark knight and paladin form. Vaan uses a bunch of different weapons that change effects depending on if he’s swapping or not, while Onion Knight can chain abilities together for better combos. Kain and Zidane’s best attacks require them to be mid air, Terra and Laguna have almost exclusively long ranged attacks, and Yuna doesn’t fight directly but instead summons creatures to fight for her. Discovering and utilizing these is an important part to the game.
While I went over the basics of the battle system in my review of Prologus, the full game has it fleshed out a little more. For example, you can now pick the assist character you want to bring into battle and can edit the moves they’ll use. You can also bring a summoning with you. Summonings activate if specific conditions are met, and will do specific actions. For example: if you knock an opponent’s bravery to zero and have Ifrit equipped then you’ll summon him and get a 1.5x boost to your own bravery. Going into fights you have to make sure you have your abilities, assists, and summonings are set to give you the best advantages possible. Duodecim also adds party battles to the game, letting you bring a group of characters into a fight and plan out how they do combat.
For those looking for a meaty fighting game they may be interested in Duodecim as well. The game is packed full of content. The story mode lasts about 15 hours, and while the story itself is still a pile of shit, the mode does a really really good job of bringing you from fight to fight to keep you engaged. Further more: the entire story mode from the original Dissidia, all 30-ish hours of it, has been put into this game as well. While that game’s story isn’t much better (Where Duodecim’s story is contradicting and confusing, Dissidia’s story is just cliched and boring) it allows you a chance to play though all 10 hero characters from the original game and leads you through more fights. If you played the original then you’ll find the story has been restructured a little. The chapters have been rearranged into chronological order and they’ve added a few of the new Duodecim elements like assists and the world map. Overall it’s still the same story though, and so you don’t have to be worried about missing out if you’ve already done this once.
If you’re a fighting game, RPG, or Final Fantasy fan then Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy is worth checking out. The fighting system is deep yet fun and it has a good smattering of RPG elements to back it up. The story is still disappointingly crappy, but if you’re here for the fighting then you’re going to be a very pleased customer.