Dissidia 012 (pronounced duodecim) is the follow up to Square Enix’s super smash bros-esque fighting title Dissidia. Duodecim feels less like a sequel though, and more like the experience Square Enix truly meant Dissidia to be. The PSP hasn’t had the greatest of lineups in the last few years, and Dissidia 012 turns out to be one of the deepest and best games available on the system.

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If you aren’t familiar with the first game, the basic concept is this; two gods, one of harmony (cosmos) and one of discord (chaos) have called mighty warriors from different worlds to fight for their cause. In the first game, this turned out to be the heroes from the final fantasy series fighting for cosmos, and the villains of the series fighting on chaos’ side. Duodecim mixes things up a bit, being the prequel story. A few characters start on the opposite side they end up on, and there are 6 new heroes thrown into the fray as well as three unlockable characters.

The story of Dissidia 012 doesn’t turn out to be anything revolutionary, but fans of the Final Fantasy series will find a lot to love. Above everything else, the most impressive aspect of Duodecim is how true to their characters Square Enix stayed. Every character that is included is represented well and true to their characters, and fans will enjoy seeing the interactions of their favorite heroes and villains. As I said before, Duodecim is the prequel to Dissidia, and the new story focuses entirely on the new characters and what happened to them. The new story clock in at around 10 hours, but what’s really impressive is that after you beat that you unlock the entire original game. Duodecim also works to flesh out the old story more with new scenes, and implements its new gameplay systems into the original as well.

Speaking of gameplay, this is where the game really shines. Even though the original’s gameplay was pretty fun, the small improvements in Duodecim work to make the experience even more enjoyable. The old system is all there, with battles taking place between two characters on an open level. Characters can perform bravery attacks with the circle button that accumulate their bravery and takes away the opponent’s.  On the square button are hp attacks that use accumulated bravery to take away the opponent’s hp.  Other actions such as dodging, guarding, and dashing towards a target can also be used. There is also something called the ex gauge, that gets accumulated through battle by orbs that spawn when you attack the enemy, and bells that spawn randomly. Once the ex gauge is full, you can activate ex mode, which increases your critical hit percentage, grants health regeneration, and allows you to activate a super move if you successfully land and hp attack. The new additions while small help quite a bit. You now have the ability to call in an assist character for an attack, and the new ex revenge that slows time for a few seconds when activated.

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Dissidia 012 is as much an rpg as it is a fighting game. Characters level up as they gain experience, gaining stat boosts and new moves. You can also give characters equipment, accessories, and summons to use.

Duodecim changes things up with how the story mode is played. This time you start on a world map before each level, where you can find treasure, build up skills, and talk to characters. Then you enter a gateway, where Dissidia’s familiar board levels return. The biggest addition, of course, would be the new heroes; Lightning from XIII, Kain from IV, Tifa from VII,  Laguna from VIII, Yuna from X, and Vaan from XII. The new characters all fit in incredibly well, and I found them all to be my favorite to play out of all the characters in the game. Each one adds an interesting take on the formula, such as Kain’s ability to jump twice as high, or Lightnings ability to switch paradigms.

Duodecim is definitely one of the best looking games ever released on the PSP. The characters and environments all look great just like in the original, and Square Enix again uses some of their renowned gorgeous cg scenes. The particle effects in battle look great, and there is no slowdown in the game at all except for a few cases while playing multiplayer.

The one aspect of Duodecim that any game would have trouble challenging is the soundtrack. Featuring music from all across the Final Fantasy series as well as new compositions and remixes, there really is no way that Dissidia 012s music could be any better. Voice acting is overall very good, most characters do a very fine job while a few don’t do as good of a job (cough, Exdeath).

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Something you don’t need to worry about with Duodecim is not getting your money’s worth. The game is absolutely full to the brim with content, and throws rewards at you for hours on end. There is always something new to unlock and obtain with new music, new levels, costumes, game modes, icons, the list goes on. The biggest reward of them all of course is the fact that you get the entire original game. Square Enix really has shown a lot of devotion to their flagship series with this title. Everything they have built for Duodecim is a grand tribute to Final Fantasy, from the actual story to moogles sending you messages in al-bhed fans will feel right at home.

All together, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is a fantastic package, and even if it may take a few hours to pull you in, it will grab a hold and stay with an unrelenting grip. You get more than your money’s worth, and will always feel rewarded while playing Duodecim.  If you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series or fighting games in general, or even just own a PSP, do yourself a favor and pick this title up.

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Title : Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
Format : PSP
Developer : Square Enix
Publisher : Square Enix
Release Date : 03/22/11

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]