The prequel to 2009's Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Dissidia 012, covers the 12th war between the forces of Cosmos and Chaos, while the original Dissidia revolves around 13th war. Cosmos, the goddess of harmony, and Chaos, the god of discord have created an eternal conflict and both sides have summoned many warriors to do battle on their behalf. Cosmos tasks her side with the retrieval of the crystals that will help them to win the war against Chaos. Despite the game being a prequel, more characters from more Final Fantasy games are present this time around. While some Final Fantasy fans might be curious about how the game handles things, allow me to be the voice that reassures everybody that there is plenty to love about Dissidia 012. Here's the breakdown:
The battle system has stayed largely the same, players use Circle to drain each others bravery/attack power, then they press Square to deal HP damage equivalent to their bravery score. Like in the last Dissidia game, completely draining an opponent of their bravery will net you a massive increase in Bravery. Sounds like nothing's changed, but there's a whole new gameplay element available to players, the assist system, or the assistem as I like to call it. The assistem lets you add a second fighter into the fray, so if players are fighting as Lightning, they can call The Warrior Of Light to add in an attack or a series of attacks, even and especially if the enemy is up against the wall. More desperate players can use their assists as human shields, escaping danger and getting out of harm's way. While it might seem unethical, it's a great way to buy a few seconds and regroup or counterattack. There's even one downloadable assist character that grants an invincibility buff and can stop the enemy in their tracks! However, should the enemy tag the player or the assist character, players will be prohibited from calling an assist character for a period of time.
Another noteworthy change to gameplay that's more of a tweak than it is an addition is the new EX Revenge system. In the original Dissidia, players could unleash EX Mode, changing forms and gaining access to new abilities. Entering EX Mode in the middle of being attacked meant that the enemy would be interrupted and staggered by this new transformation, opening them up for a counterattack. Duodecim keeps intact the ability to stagger an opponent using one's own EX Gauge, but this time around, players who activate EX Mode during an assualt won't transform. Instead, their enemy will be stunned even more than enemies in the original Dissidia and giving the player AMPLE time to counterattack. Using the EX Revenge, I've even had time to whiff on attacks, initially choosing the wrong one and then had time to recover and deal HP damage. Your mileage may vary on whether or not this is a positive change, but I feel it adds a great deal of balance to the game and it lets the other player know that they can't run from the incoming world of hurt.
Dissidia Duodecim also added new characters to the roster in addition to including all the characters from the previous Dissidia. Kain Highwind, Tifa Lockhart and Lightning have all made it into the game as playable characters, as have Laguna Loire, Vaan and even darkhorse pics like Prishe from FF XI and Gilgamesh from FFV are available as playable characters. As a fan of the Final Fantasy series, I'm a little hurt that room wasn't made to include characters from FFVI (namely any of the characters that had interaction with the Phantom Train, since that stage is in the game) and FFIX (Vivi or Steiner), but perhaps they'll show up as assists or as some kind of DLC? Even if they don't, I'm actually pretty happy with the roster. Kain is just as easy to pick up and play as Cloud is, Lightning and Vaan show a lot of versatility, Laguna uses guns to wage long range warfare, a first for a Dissidia character, and Gilgamesh is.....
In other words: FREAKIN' AWESOME.
Duodecim doesn't skimp on the graphics either, characters look even more gorgeous than before and the new stages look beautiful namely the Prima Vista and Orphan's Cradle. Duodecim also throws in some extra battle tracks for players to rock out to while they sap each others bravery and lay beatdowns on each other. "The Final Battle," from FFV (can you tell I liked FFV?) and "Blinded By Light," from FFXIII are great, although I'm not sure why any song from a game as recent as FFXII needs remixing.
Once players are done questing through the main campaign, they can play through the events from the original Dissidia. That's right, you get both games for the price of one. If you still need more to do, make your own campaign using the Quest Editor, which lets you recreate stories and battles from Final Fantasy games past or bring your own fanfic of epic proportions to life! (Please no Cloud/Sephiroth love stories)
Dissidia Duodecim isn't without fault though. This game takes quite a bit of trial and error to get right. An experienced Dissidia player myself, I spent 300 hours (gotta do something at work!) on the original and I needed at least an hour or two to get assists down pat. If a Dissidia first timer picks this game up? Well, they may as well call out sick from work for the week and get ready to take lots of notes.
Also, it has Lightning in it. Sorry guys.
PROS AND CONS
+Same great Dissidia taste, awesome new features
+Assist system allows for insane combos
+New characters have easy to use styles (but mostly Vaan)
+Superb graphics and a great soundtrack
-Steep learning curve
-Seriously, where's the Final Fantasy VI characters
Despite the fact that Dissidia isn't such a pick up and playable game, it's still worth your money. A/V scores an A+, gameplay is both challenging and rewarding and there's a great deal of fanservice for FF fans! Thumbs way up for Dissidia!