Review of Dissidia Final Fantasy

I’m going to start off by saying one of the few things that annoy me about this game: the name. No, not because it’s hard to pronounce or spell or that it’s not even a real word. It’s the fact that it’s Dissidia Final Fantasy not Final Fantasy Dissidia, like most all games (or movies, or books, etc.) do it. I’m neurotic so having to say it in that fashion is annoying.

Now that I got that off my chest…that really is one of the few things that pester me about the game. I’m going to say straight off that I love this game, and think that while it might not be the best game on the PSP it’s certainly among the best. And what makes that even more surprising is that I had totally written this game off and had only bought it out of a desire to satisfy that fanservice need.

To say that it doesn’t quench the fangirl in me would be inaccurate–having a bunch of my favorite characters in it, lots of gorgeous terrain and all the little nuances of the games built in every layer of this game really pleasured that tastebud. But Dissidia is really so much more than that. It is physically stunning, immensely engrossing and just plain fun.

Doubtless it is pleasing to the eye. The magical affects are beautiful and the characters are rendered excellently. They move so smoothly that you never feel like they are out of control. It’s the same for the battlefields. Having a fight while on the familiar landscape is entirely fun. There is actually only a few instances that I felt the camera angle hindered my experience and that was mostly in the chase sequences which I didn’t engage in frequently anyways.

Another enjoyable thing about the game: the voice-acting. I was especially pleased by hearing the voices of The Emperor, Warrior of Light and Firion. In this one scene where The Emperor says “Where do you think you’re going?” it feels very real, like the character exists. All the others were done either excellently or adequately. Cecil’s voice has always been a hit or miss with me, though I think the actor did alright in this particular game.

The story isn’t exactly ground-breaking or memorable, but it does keep the gamer interested long enough to get them to the next battle. There are parts in the game that the dialogue gets a bit one-dimensional, probably so that the characters own storylines or natural dispositions don’t bog down the gameplay. Certain character traits were either downplayed or over-emphasized to differentiate them from the rest of the cast. This was a necessary evil though so I didn’t mind it too much.

What really grabbed me in this game, and held me, was the sheer vastness of its scope. The weapons, armor, accessories, items and summons to get is enormous. So is all the extras like acquiring all the characters to battle with, the voices to hear,¬† movies to see, skills to master…it goes on and on. Two hundred and plus hours in and I’ve only maxed three characters out; there are seventeen more to go (not to mention the secret characters). I haven’t completed the super hard quest or the battle arena. Time-sink doesn’t even begin to describe it.

This was the ultimate in fanservice yet ended up being a wonderful game all on its own. Kind of like the original Kingdom Hearts, you will find yourself enjoying a good run through this game. It probably won’t end up as your personal Number One (it didn’t end up as mine, though it did score high) but in the end I dare say there is far few people who would ever say its not worth your time. Besides, what really is much more enjoyable than pissing around with your favorite character beating the shit out of your least favorite?

You come for the fanservice; you stay for the amazing game.

Review of FFIV: The DS Remake

In a move that most did not anticipate Square-enix decided to remake Final Fantasy IV. Unlike so many of its other so-called remakes, this game actually incorporated enormous changes to its graphics and sound, enhancing (or perhaps reducing, depending on your point of view) the game’s value. This is an distinct contrast to a lot of other ports (not remakes per say) which kept the game mechanics the same but added huge, optional dugenons. I’ll take this opportunity to say what I think of Square-enix’s venture into true remaking in Final Fantasy.

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Review: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

The After YearsThe Final Fantasy series has been going on for more than twenty years, the flagship gaming series of powerhouse Square-Enix. What started out as a desperation act from a failing company has expanded into an empire with dozens of spin-offs. Final Fantasy has made RPGs mainstream, introducing the genre into millions of homes and spawning many copycats. But no RPG series will be quite the same as Final Fantasy.

One of the best known games from the series is Final Fantasy IV. Released originally back in the eighties this game follows the story of Cecil and his friends in a journey that spans the globe and beyond. It is a journey of self-discovery, betrayal, love and ultimately forgiveness. Since it’s original incarnation the game has been re-released on three platforms, including the PSP. This is the remake I will discuss known as The After Years: The Complete Collection.

The Complete Collection includes the original game, the Interlude and The After Years. The original game is an upgraded verison of the original along with the Advance’s optional dungeons. The Interlude is a short jaunt between the original and the After Years, detailing what happens between the two. The After Years is where the real meat of this is, continuing the story of the main characters, adding some fresh faces and advancing the legacy of the crystals.

You’ll notice that not a lot has changed in the game in the basis of gameplay. The ATB (Active Time Battle) is still there, though they added an interesting dynamic of the “Bonds”. Borrowing off the Techs from Chrono Trigger, Bonds effectively allow two or more characters to combine their various skills to execute new powerful attacks. A more original addition is the moon phases. These phases either increase or decrease healing, attacking, etc. and have a surprisingly significant affect on battles. Not a lot has changed beyond that, though you know what they say about not being broke means not needing fixing?

For those who’d played the original will find this a familiar stroll with their favorite characters. If you couldn’t get enough of them before, this game is a great way of reconnecting, like spending a long weekend with the old friends from college. There is also a set of new characters to identify with, all with their own special quirks and skills and they split out into seperate groups for their own adventures.

Where The After Year takes a stumble is that the story, for the most part, too closely resembles its predecessor. Even for a gamer who was especially invested in the original story, the sense of repition can be tiresome. Fortunately after that the story takes an interesting turn, with a few twists that are not entirely unexpected but still welcome. It won’t stand out, but be intriguing enough to not spoil the game.

Music has always been a huge hit in the series and Final Fantasy¬†IV has been no exception. The iconic Theme of Love is back and better than ever, and the new track, The Mysterious Girl, helps add to the aura of power around the game’s primary villian called…The Mysterious Girl. None of the other tracks really stand out, but with how gorgeous a track the original game had, and how it is integrated into the new story, keeps it fresh and enjoyable.

The After Years really shines in how the game is divided into chapters, giving each set of characters a decent time in the lime light. These are seamlessly woven together in order to mesh with the main storyline, which, of course, is intricately linked with the legend of the crystals. Just when the game might become a bit linear a chapter ends, leaving the gamer with the decision of selecting among several others. In what order they are done is irrelevant as all but three are accessible from the start.

In the end whether The After Years (and the Complete Collection, by extension) is a worthwhile venture really depends on the gamer’s tastes. If they are looking for something entirely new and revolutionary, The After Years really isn’t their style. There simply isn’t enough radical changes to make the game a good investment of time and they would likely find more to attract them to the DS remake.

But for a gamer who simply hadn’t the chance to delve into Final Fantasy IV’s universe or has already and is looking to please that nostaglic feeling, then The After Years is exactly the romp through old game mechanics and expansion in storyline they’ve been looking for.

Now if only Square-Enix could do this for other games in their series (namely Final Fantasy VI) I only imgaine how much cash they’d be rolling in. But knowing this company said game is already in the works as of the typing of this article.