Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy review

  • Fresh combat
  • Deep RPG mechanics
  • Familiar cast
  • Flawed presentation
  • Painful difficulty spikes
  • Uninspired narrative

When you sprinkle the words “Final Fantasy” into the title of your videogame, there are certain expectations: epic fantasy, cutting-edge RPG mechanics, spiky-haired heroes of ambiguous gender. When you attach words like “dissidia” or “duodecim” to the front of the Final Fantasy brand, though, expectations can often mutate into confusion, which is appropriate: DDFF is a rather confusing game.

Don’t get us wrong: there are a lot of traditional Final Fantasy tropes here. Not only does the game sport a cast drawn from every numbered Final Fantasy game ever, there is a ton of instantly recognizable JRPG mechanics. You’ll pile up XP, AP, KP, and a host of other Ps to level your character and improve their skills, attributes, and gear. There’s an overworld map on which you’ll encounter enemies and discover treasure before being whisked onto the battle map. The cutscenes are beautifully rendered and often poorly translated. It is, in other words, very thoroughly a Square Enix RPG.

Where DDFF departs from the familiar JRPG blueprint is in its combat. Eschewing the turn-based, menu-heavy systems of yore, DDFF presents the player with high-octane battles that have more in common with fighting games than traditional RPGs. Much like an over-the-top battle sequence from your favorite anime, heroes clash with villains in third-person combat that explodes with flashy effects and giant summons. Players chain combos together to build their “bravery,” which reflects how much damage they’ll inflict when they unleash HP attacks, and can call on other heroes for assists or enter a devastating EX Mode to deal out massive punishment.

Above: Oh? Tell me more about me

Though at first the combat seems frenetic and random, as more of the systems are exposed and players get a handle on some basic strategy it proves to be a fairly interested, layered affair. While not as deep and nuanced as most modern fighting games, DDFF does introduce enough interesting elements to avoid being a spammy button masher, and there’s a lot to be said for the high level of energy and fluidity.

Where the battle system suffers is in presentation. All the flashy effects and the relatively small size of the character models mean that the combatants are often lost in the shuffle, overwhelmed by explosions and shockwaves. The camera and layout of a lot of the arenas also don’t do the game any favors. While it’s possible to manually adjust the camera, doing so requires you to stop maneuvering your character, which is never a good idea if you value your precious hit points. Because of the way you and your opponent are always rushing around and the way the levels are so often set up in multiple elevations and tiers, it can be frustrating to keep track of where you are in relation to your opponent.

The story follows the heroes and heroines of the numbered Final Fantasy titles, who have been kidnapped by shadowy entities representing order and chaos and pitted against each other in a battle for supremacy. It’s a serviceable narrative, though it’s never particularly compelling, and some of the dialogue suffers from shoddy localization.

Above: With all those effects, something awesome must be happening... right?

DDFF is an interesting take on a lot of well-worn ideas - never exceptional, though usually a lot of fun. Though it suffers at times because of presentation issues and from some uneven spikes in difficulty, it’s a refreshing deconstruction of the sort of games Square Enix has been churning out for years, and a notable entry in one of the world’s longest running franchises.

Apr 7, 2011

More Info

Release date: Mar 22 2011 - PSP (US)
Mar 25 2011 - PSP (UK)
Available Platforms: PSP
Genre: Action
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
Franchise: Final Fantasy
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:




  • animeman - April 13, 2011 1:22 a.m.

    Just about everything they said was true but I defiantly agree with Larinath. also the game should of gotten at least an 8/10.
  • robmh - April 9, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    It's a shame that this game wasn't on a more mainstream platform. Maybe then it would have got a good review and not one based on a few hours opinion. I know that this sounds too harsh, but it is a pretty weak point to complain about the camera or losing track of the characters.
  • ranzatsu - April 9, 2011 5:53 a.m.

    The PP Catalog got ridiculous. Just for a stupid outfit, they charge you 700. Things got way more expensive, and bugger, since you don't get much PP anymore from battles. I agree with the review though. I like the new inclusion of the characters, and the tweaks they put to the old ones. But after my third week, it got old and boring. And the dialogue was meaningless. Just fight, in short.
  • bball42242442 - April 9, 2011 2:32 a.m.

    Seriously i think certain games like there need to be reviewed by fanboys. If you don't know your FF your most likely not picking this up.
  • Stabby_Joe - April 8, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    "Fanboys make my tummy hurt!"
  • Larinah - April 8, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    @bball42242442 Exactly. I rest my case. It's a fast action game at heart, as opposed to a slow turn-based game which is what most FF games are. The review isn't wrong, but it's incomplete and most DEFINITELY an opinion. And apparently an opinion from someone who didn't play the game enough to really get into it.
  • bball42242442 - April 7, 2011 11:53 p.m.

    @Ruoivas if you know what you are doing and how to play the game, most of those problems disappear. Why did this review take so long? Seriously
  • bigwill1221 - April 7, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    What painful difficulty spikes?... Except maybe for fighting feral chaos at lvl 1... that moogle was just plain evil!
  • Ruoivas - April 7, 2011 11:45 p.m.

    @Larinah so because you disagree, the review is wrong? You may not have had any of the problems he mentioned, but I've been playing and have noticed everything he mentioned as well.
  • onewingedantista - April 7, 2011 11:37 p.m.

    Wow, I thought my review was late... (Saturday after release, check it my review from an actual Dissidia fan at
  • EvilChicken - April 7, 2011 10:43 p.m.

    Alright I loved the first one, but I do have to say, the 2nd was a slight let down. I mean it still is good just not as good ads the last one. The last one brought something new that was never before seen, and it was amazing. And Dissidia 2 comes and they really didn't change all that much. Sure new characters and all and a few new modes, but it just lacks that "THIS IS AMAZING" like the last game. But still a good game, I would say 8/10, the last one 9.5/10. I'm just really mad the story is still lame, and I feel like the kinda throw together the ending, like you could see it coming from a mile away. Also I think another factor in it, the last game I logged over 150 hours into, and it was a lot of leveling up and gaining new items. And the thought of having to do that ALL over again, all that hard work, a little annoying. I mean even though you can transfer characters from the old game, you still need to regain all your items which took forever. Also, still no online play, really, I mean come on, that just plain needed for a fighting game. Adhoc party does not count. Again, overall,a let down. But yet still good. 8.5/10 and the old 9.5/10
  • Larinah - April 7, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    Let me pick apart this review. "Where the battle system suffers is in presentation. All the flashy effects and the relatively small size of the character models mean that the combatants are often lost in the shuffle, overwhelmed by explosions and shockwaves." How exactly do you get this? I've been playing this game since release and the only trouble out of the camera I had was when running on a wall, and even that can be easy to get accustomed to with a little practice. "Because of the way you and your opponent are always rushing around and the way the levels are so often set up in multiple elevations and tiers, it can be frustrating to keep track of where you are in relation to your opponent." There's a massive arrow around your character, (which almost always stays in the center of your screen,) that always points to your opponent, or if you press L, will toggle between your opponent, the EX Core if it's in play, the opponent's assist character if they're in play, or a free target, which STILL has the arrow pointing directly at your opponent. I can't argue with you on the dialogue. It was extremely boring, and it can be hard to pick up on the story, which by the way, is LONG AS HELL. "from some uneven spikes in difficulty" See, I thought that was the case as well at first, but then I realized exactly how much help breakable accessory's and chain skills are. Keeping your gear up to date is also a very big part of the game, adding to the RPG element. Speaking of the RPG element, you didn't even mention the fact that the game can be played in two modes, RPG and Action. I'd say your review is 1/2 what it could have been, and if you REALLY go into the depth of this game, it's something very very good on a system that doesn't get very many good titles... Personally, I'd give it a 9/10, meaning that yes, it IS better than Halo: Reach.
  • Pocotron - April 7, 2011 9:59 p.m.

    I was watching my friend play this and I gotta say that it ironically looks like it pulls some combat ideas from Kingdom Hearts: BBS. At least it should have...
  • FauxGateau - April 7, 2011 9:46 p.m.

    I really do agree with the review, I wish it felt more like a sequel instead of a prequel.

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