Friday, May 3, 2019

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (PS4) Review

For the past year I've played Dissidia Final Fantasy NT off and on, each time finding myself disgusted enough to stop playing for a long while. Maybe I'm a masochist or something. Well, at least you can't say I didn't give Dissidia Final Fantasy NT a fair shake! Here's my in-depth review.

Dissin' Dissidia

Let's get this out of the way immediately--if you're expecting a similar experience to the PSP Dissidia games--complete with 1-v-1 battles, a comprehensive story mode complete with world map and leveling systems, you'll find yourself greatly disappointed with the Dissidia series's debut on a home console with Square Enix and Team Ninja's Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. Even if you're just expecting a competent fighter, you'll still find yourself disappointed with what NT has to offer.

Gone are the one-on-one battles the Dissidia series was known for in the PSP entries, and in their stead are 3-on-3 matches that start to bring forth just how chaotic the battles in the latest Dissidia are. Between dealing with a finicky lock-on system, trying to decipher all of the intrusive UI elements that litter the screen, and learning the complex gameplay mechanics involved in NT, you can quickly feel like you're attempting to pat your head while rubbing your tummy, all the while trying to evade fireballs and sword slashes from every angle while doing so.

Fight as your favorite Final Fantasy heroes...
There's just way too much going on, and such a huge learning curve to overcome. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is not a pick up and play game. It's a pick up and get destroyed game if you're just getting into it, so it's definitely not beginner-friendly. Even still, once you've become accustomed to the messy lock-on system, the sidestepping, the wall running, the aerial acrobatics, and trying to keep your wits about you when you're attempting to make heads or tails of three possible attackers, you're still dealing with a broken camera system and a game that focuses more on flashy special effects and chaos than fun.

...As well as your favorite Final Fantasy villains.
What hasn't changed with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the standard mechanic used to deal damage. There are two types of attacks in Dissidia, Bravery attacks and HP attacks. The former are performed with the Circle button while the latter are initiated with the Square button. Bravery attacks boost your own Bravery gauge number as you lower your opponent's Bravery at the same time. If your opponent reaches zero Bravery from one of your attacks, their Bravery enters a Broken state, where you amass even more Bravery. Whatever your Bravery number is at is what HP damage you cause upon a successfully landing HP attack.

Breaking an opponent's Bravery will net you lots of your own Bravery for a potentially powerful HP attack.
Once your land an HP attack on your opponent, their HP decreases, and if you deliver more damage than they have available in their HP gauge, your opponent is temporarily incapacitated. Meanwhile, your Bravery returns to an amount of 1,000 to keep things fair and balanced. Which ever team incapacitates three players on the other team (and they can be the same player or a combination of any three), they're deemed victorious in the battle. As an aside, there is also a second battle mode that sees players trying to destroy the other team's core before their own is decimated.

The UI in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is an unrefined, cluttered mess.
As mentioned earlier, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT does not feature a comprehensive story mode for its main campaign. Instead, you're given a map that contains various nodes that feature either story cutscenes or battles to them. The rub here is that these must be unlocked via special memento currency just to continue through the game's story. Obviously, the developers realized that if they left the story's progression completely open, players would find themselves completing things quite quickly. What better way to artificially lengthen the game and its story than locking players out of content until they play more of the other modes in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT?

The actual cutscenes within Dissidia Final Fantasy NT are beautiful displays of the impressive tech behind the game, but most are simply pointless to the overall story. The actual story is an overall mess of boring dialog with an unintelligible plot. But again, at least it's pretty to look at!

Final Fantasy X's Tidus makes some cunning sword contact with Final Fantasy II's Firion.
When you're not grinding to unlock mementos to make progress in the story mode, you're grinding for currency to purchase shop goods such as character costumes, weapons, and music. When you're not doing that, you can earn loot box-style treasure chests that randomly unlock items that you'd otherwise purchase in the game's shop. Said "loot box" treasures aren't purchased with real-world money, but instead unlocked throughout your gaming sessions with NT. While you might think that the process to unlock treasures comes quickly with all that you receive within the first five or so hours with the game, this is merely a ruse. It becomes a slow, agonizing grind to unlock new treasures soon after your initial few hours with the game.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT features a fully fledged multiplayer mode, though this is only available for online play and nothing local whatsoever. Online pits players together and against one another not by their player level but by their character level, which can result in some lopsided matches. Furthermore, that's even if you're paired with human allies or opponents. You can find yourself sitting idly in the online multiplayer waiting room for up to five minutes only to discover that you're playing an uneven match where you get the privilege of playing against three human opponents while you get two clumsy AI partners. While the addition of the free version of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has remedied this a little, the community for the game just isn't there. That isn't even talking about the lag that is a feature in many matches for when you do battle against fellow humans.

The visuals like these screen-hogging special effects do nothing more than
make an already confusing battle even more bewildering.
One strong point of this otherwise mediocre fan service fighter is the amount of love and care taken to represent each mainline installment of the Final Fantasy series, as well as Tactics and Type-0. Over 30 fighters, both in the hero and villain categories, are featured fighters in the game, and there is at least one stage representing a famous area in each Final Fantasy game featured. That is whether it's the original Final Fantasy's Corneria, Final Fantasy VII's Midgar, or Final Fantasy Tactics' Orbonne Monastery.

Furthermore, the collection of original and remixed music from the famous scores and soundtracks of the Final Fantasy series is off the charts in how amazing it is. From hearing a rearranged version of FF1's Matoya's Cave up to hearing the modern chorus booming in Final Fantasy XV's Apocalypsis Noctis in either remixed or the original game version form, the music is sensational, and you can even build your own playlist of songs by character.

Still, no matter how much love was put into the fan service for Final Fantasy fans, it doesn't mean a thing when Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is such a poor, confusing, chaotic mess of a fighting game. There's simply too much happening on screen at once, too many characters to keep track of, and too much frustration to be found in this fighter. I tried to keep an open mind with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, continually coming back to it over the course of a year, but each and every time I ended up aggravated by not just the gameplay systems involved, but at the spoiled potential in this game. Even at its current budget price point, the latest Dissidia is a dud.

[SPC Says: D+]

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