Hands-on review: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT slashes onto the PS4
The Dissidia Final Fantasy franchise is a fighting game series that includes many characters from the popular Final Fantasy video games. The series started on the PSP, but NT is the first iteration to finally hit a home console with its release on the PS4.
I had a chance to review the first ever Dissidia Final Fantasy video game many years ago as I bought my own copy. I remember I played that game to death and loved it quite a lot.
The first Dissidia Final Fantasy game was so enjoyable, I was always confused as to why Square Enix never ported the series onto the PS3 at the time. Its PSP sequel was more of the same, but added more characters to the mix.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is the new PS4 release loosely based on the Japanese arcade version that came out a few years ago. If you loved the PSP versions, you are in for a surprise because NT is far different from the older games I aforementioned. There are both pros and cons to the changes that have been made in this new game.
Let's talk about the positives first because NT is a gorgeous looking game on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles. The graphics look as good as an animated Final Fantasy CG movie. Seriously, the character models have been rendered wonderfully and the many levels you will see are downright beautiful. The Final Fantasy franchise is my favourite game series of all time and it is great to see familiar locations in games such as FF7, FF8, FFX, FFXII and more.
It's not just the visuals that will give Final Fantasy fans nostalgia because the soundtrack is extensive featuring many recognisable tracks from the series' long history. Included in the music are rearranged new recordings for tracks as such the iconic battle themes for each game, plus you can unlock the original tunes as you progress as well.
The last good thing about the game is the cutscenes in the story mode. Even though the story mode is cliche, it's cool to see all of the Final Fantasy character unite again to face a common evil. Many of the English voice actors come back to reprise their roles which put a smile on my face.
As good as the presentation is in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the game's main issue is with its actually gameplay mechanics and lack of game modes. The game removes many features seen in the PSP versions and I feel the gameplay will be hard for many new players.
In the PSP iterations, the games offered a more concise and focused 1-vs-1 battle. The combat was acrobatic and tried to mimic the fight scenes seen in the Advent Children animated film. It took a while to get used to the controls, but I enjoyed the gameplay. For some reason, NT is exclusively only a tag-team contest offering 3-vs-3 battles. Sadly unlike the Dead or Alive series, you do not have the choice to change back to 1-vs-1 battles whatsoever. You are forced to play tag-team battles 100 percent of the time.
The problem with 3-vs-3 battles in this game is that combat feels unfocused and chaotic most of the time. The opponents usually fly around really fast around the levels and it's hard to catch them. While you are in pursuit, usually their teammates come from behind and nail you while you're blind.
It has similar fast-paced combat as the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series, although some characters lack long ranged attacks so it's usually a game of cat and mouse. The main character I found useful is FFXIII's Lightning since she's the only person in the game that can change her combat type using both physical and magical attacks.
Not to mention the over the shoulder camera means this game is exclusively only a solo player experience if you are playing offline. Unlike many other fighting games, I sadly could not play this game with my brothers unless we bought another PS4 and a copy of the game to play online...
The only multiplayer mode to experience is online, and battles are okay but only if your connection is good. That said, connecting with other players can be lengthy because I feel the in-game population for this game is pretty small. I had to wait ages in order to play online matches with others. I feel most gamers are playing Dragon Ball FighterZ or Monster Hunter: World instead. One annoying part of the game is the Story Mode and how you are forced to unlock more chapters from it. Instead of a Story Mode that you progress normally like in other fighting games, to unlock more chapters in this game you have to play through the Arcade Mode over and over again to see more cutscenes, battles and boss battles.
I have to admit, it gets really repetitive trying to do the Arcade Mode several times levelling up just to see what happens in the story. This game should have had a normal story mode that didn't halt your progression by having to unlock "fragments".
My final gripe is more subjective and that's with the character roster. Although many fan favourites are in this game such as Cloud, Squall, Lightning and Noctis, there are still many other characters missing. I would have liked to have seen Balthier, Yuna, Rikku and Tifa in the game so hopefully they get added as DLC in the future.
Anyway as a huge Final Fantasy fan, I was kind of disappointed with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The presentation and graphics are excellent, but the lack of game modes and confusing style of gameplay heavily brings this game down. It might only be worth playing this game if you see it at a discounted price because it's a hard sell right now.