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It comes as little surprise to anyone who knows me that I love the Final Fantasy series. With that in mind, I was certain I'd buy Final Fantasy Dissidia even if it was not at all in the traditional mode. Besides, who can turn down the chance to finally resolve the epic question of who would win: Kefka or Sephiroth?

Accordingly, I pre-ordered Dissidia from my local GameStop, and while I wasn't quite hardcore enough to pick it up at midnight, I did swing by on the actual release date. Being me, I also grabbed the strategy guide, which in retrospect was probably a really smart decision, since I would eventually like to get a large number of the Accomplishments.

My first, overwhelming impression of the game was that it is stunningly beautiful. I haven't tried it out on my TV yet, but on the PSP screens the models are lovely. There are no jagged edges, no oddly aligned polygons. The colors are bright and fresh, making the game visually quite an experience.

My second impression is that this game is much harder than I was anticipating. I pictured something I could get through purely on button-mashing (much in the vein of Kingdom Hearts), or else something with simple and easily memorizable button combinations such as the Super Smash Bros. series. That was a definite mistake! The prologue is simple enough and can definitely be handled with the "hammer on the buttons until you win" method, but after that the difficulty curve went astronomically high. Granted, I am no expert at fighting games, but I was very surprised.

There are two kinds of attacks: bravery attacks, and HP attacks. The damage you do with an HP attack is equivalent to the bravery points you've accumulated through bravery attacks, so both attacks are necessary to complete battles. Dissidia also features a leveling-up system, which has been crucial to my progress so far. I've developed a habit of checking the strategy guide to see what the highest-level enemy will be, and grinding in Quick Battles until I am at least 3 levels above that.

Speaking of the strategy guide, it appears to be a significantly improved offering over the usual Brady Games fare, featuring a layout that makes sense and, heavens forbid, actual information instead of gratuitous over-use of character models, which was the case in the Final Fantasy XII guide.

The in-game manual is probably my very favourite part of the game. Square Enix chose both a protagonist and an antagonist from each of the first ten Final Fantasy main series games, but that doesn't mean they forgot about everyone else. Pressing Start in any of the menu screens allows you to bring up the manual. Information is presented by the characters who aren't playable. For example, Rydia explains about summons. This would be quirky and cool on its own, but the writers really got into it; each manual page is presented very much in-voice for the appropriate character, and it's a touch that I love to death.

I've heard others complain about the voice acting, but I'm not quite sure what the issue is, unless I've only been hearing from the people who will complain no matter what if they cannot access the original Japanese voice data. American voice acting has come a long way in the past ten years, and I found nothing to complain about in Dissidia, except that I would perhaps have swapped Bartz and Zidane's voice actors. So far I've not found any gratuitous over-acting, and the voices are pleasant to listen to.

Thus far, I've completed about half of Cecil's tale and completely cleared the Warrior of Light, and while I will finish the game, I don't see it being something I'll return to repeatedly the way that I have with previous installments in the Final Fantasy series.

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Meaghan Bullock

November 2012

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