Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy

TGS: Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy Hands-On

With Square Enix, sometimes game announcements pop out of nowhere, but other times they've been expected for years. A sequel to Dissidia: Final Fantasy was something I wholly expected to be announced at TGS, but I was rather surprised to learn that the game would actually be playable at the show.

Titled Dissidia Duodecim: Final Fantasy, it was naturally one of the first things I went to see at TGS, and I got to check out the two newly announced playable characters on the show floor, Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning and Final Fantasy IV's Dragoon Kain.

Here's the score: Dissidia Duodecim is largely similar to the original Dissidia: Final Fantasy. You're still managing both HP and Brave meters and attacks of the two various styles in order to win, and the controls are pretty much identical to what you've already experienced in the original Dissida.

If you haven't already experienced it, you can learn all about it in our review of the original title, which'll allow me here to move on to the meat of this piece - what's new to the world of Dissidia.

I got to have a couple of battles with both of the newcomers. Both characters were cool, and had unique gameplay elements that affected their gameplay. Lightning had access to Final Fantasy XIII's Paradigm Shift system, which allows her to flick between three different roles - Attacker, Blaster and Healer - on the fly.

Attacker and Blaster perform damage in different ways and unlock different types of attacks, including gunblade-based melee and distanced magic attacks. Her Healer role allows her to increase her Brave, which can be incredibly handy.

Lightning's role is displayed with the same abbreviations used in Final Fantasy XIII below her character portrait. Stringing the attacks together and switching between roles seems vital for Lightning's game, just like in FF13 itself.

Lightning moves and animates like she's right out of Final Fantasy XIII, and while she's had some minor design tweaks like all the heroes in Dissidia, everything about her references back to the game she's from. Her HP attacks even see her using Odin's swords, as she does when she goes into Drive mode.

Kain was harder to master but ultimately more rewarding, making use of his unique skills as a Dragoon, allowing him to launch opponents high into the air and then follow up with a jump and some devastating attacks.

Kain overall plays a bit more like a traditional Dissidia character as he doesn't have a 'game changing' element like Lightning's Paradigm Shift, but he still seems to be the character that'll prove harder to master in the end. Both characters were fun to use and both seemed to bring something new to the Dissidia formula, so I can't argue against their additions.

The big change in Duodecim is the Assist function. Governed by a meter, each character had a second character assigned to them that could be called in. Like in Marvel Vs Capcom and their in the character would appear, dish out a damaging attack and then disappear once more. The assist characters appear to be other members of the playable cast, and not non-playable FF heroes.

In this demo, Lightning got the Warrior of Light, the original Final Fantasy hero, while Kain was, of course, assisted by Cecil, his friend and rival. Assist attacks seem to be quite powerful, and can be used to damage both brave and HP - Brave assists cost half the assist bar, while HP assists cost the entire thing.

Also new to Duodecim is something that I personally won't be using but something that might come in handy if you're a hardcore RPG player who struggles with action game controls. The new 'RPG Mode' automates character movement, essentially making Dissida a game where you tell the character what attacks to use from an RPG-style menu and nothing else.

In a way it's kind of similar to Final Fantasy XIII's battles where you're hitting menu options that translate to stylish battle finesse on the screen. It lacks the finesse of switching paradigms in that game, though, and feels pretty sterile compared to the 'real' game. It's a nice addition for truly hardcore RPG fans, and one Square Enix hopefully has time to polish more before the game hits. 

In terms of what else Duodecim brings to the table, the demo on offer was remarkably similar to the original. The levels and music on show were both from the original Dissidia game, and the original characters were available, and seemed much unchanged.

The trailer on show did confirm a few nice things, mind. Final Fantasy XI's Shantotto puts in a CGI-based appearance in the trailer from what'll presumably be the new intro movie, showing that she won't be relegated to secret status and will likely get a proper story - and the same will presumably be true of Gabranth.

The big news that everyone is talking about is that Tifa puts in an appearance at the end of the trailer. She's shown talking to Sephiroth - asking him who he is (shouldn't she know?) in her original Final Fantasy VII attire. No footage of her fighting was shown, though - so she could either be an indication that Square Enix is inserting notable characters into the storyline as NPCs, or she could be playable. My money is on the former with a full reveal in the Japanese magazines sometime soon.

In many ways Duodecim feels like the "Super Street Fighter" to Dissidia's "Street Fighter", bringing new characters and elements to the table without breaking the bank on adding new stuff.

That may be a little cheeky of Square Enix, and may be seen as trying to make a quick buck, but what I played was still fun and this is an ample time for them to inject more variety into what was a fun formula that got very samey very quickly. 

Square Enix are promising an onslaught of character and feature announcements on a regular basis, so stick with us for those. Dissidia Duodecim: Final Fantasy is set to launch some time in 2011.

Contributed to RPG Site by John Davison. Published by Alex Donaldson.

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