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FF Dissidia demo out

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My thoughts on this one are... not so good. Certainly not as good as I'd hoped. The game plays like a painfully simplistic fighting game, yet lacks the charm of a Smash Brothers. I find the controls to be awkward, the on-screen attacks confusing, the graphics disappointing, and the fights to be simultaneously unpredictable and repetitive (if you can fathom that).

The gameplay uses mostly two buttons, one which raises your attack at the expense of your enemy's attack, and one which uses said attack value to deal damage. Each of these attacks changes based on which direction you're holding the analog stick, a style of move differentiation that I was never too keen on. It worked on the 2-D plane for Smash Brothers, but this is a fully 3-D game, and it feels awkward and clunky. Dodging, too, is a bit of a connundrum. It's easy enough to do, you hold the right trigger and move the analog stick. In fact, it's almost too easy, as you can spam it any time the opponent gets near and almost assuredly avoid damage (they can do the same thing). But it also tends to get messy when you're trying to focus on pulling off various specials by already moving the analog stick around. To then have to also concentrate on moving it for a dodge gets confusing fast.

Hit detection is very difficult to figure out, as many of the attacks have strange patterns (Cecil's got one he uses in mid air which flies all over the fucking place before doing a usually useless downward diagonal strike). Many was the time where I found Terra standing right next to Kefka and both of them using attacks that hit spaces twenty feet behind them. There's very few straight forward strikes and combos are difficult to figure out. Some moves seem to have them almost as an automatic effect. Others you have to be standing in the right spot and do some sort of quick time event.

That said, combos are pretty cool. I actually wish more of the game had been based around them. I think every hit you pull off should activate some sort of fast paced quick time event or button mashing sequence. It'd be a great way to show case cool FF moves without all the confusion of having to jiggle the analog stick while already using it to dodge and run around a 3-D environment. More importantly, it would be fun, the kind of fun we had playing Parappa the Rapper and other such games.

As if, the only thing that truly excites me about the title is seeing some of the older Final Fantasy characters (Cecil and Terra in particular) portrayed so accurately on a 3D scale. It's also cool to see the signature moves make a return. Seeing Kefka use Trine was a moment for me, as was seeing Terra transform into her Esper form.

But once the nostalgia wears off, I fear there's little here that recommends this title. On the plus side, it means less that I feel obligated to buy this Fall. I'm already on the band wagon for the following:

Scribblenauts (sept)

Uncharted 2 (oct)

Batman: Arkham Asylum (oct)

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