Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dissidia Playing Log: Part 2

Hi, Space Monkees!

Here we are in part 2 of the running log of my Dissidia experience. This time we're delving deep into the utter mediocrity that was "Final Fantasy II" by playing as the rebel against the Evil Empire, Firion. FFII wasn't exactly a bad game... it was just frustrating, and confusing, and had barely a storyline, and was just a waste of time. Okay, it was something of a bad game, but that's not what we're talking about here! Its Dissidia time!

Firion is played by none other than Johnny Yong Bosch, of "Trigun", "Power Rangers", "Devil May Cry 4", "Last Exile", "Akira", "Eureka Seven", "Code Geass", and "Bleach" fame. If you have an anime, and it needs an English voice actor for its protagonist, then Johnny is your man. He's pretty much the only man who could possibly make a non-character like Firion sound at all compelling. And he doesn't really suceed. I don't care if you're Sir Alec Guinness, Commander of the Order of the British Empire himself, you can't possibly deliver lines like "I dream of a world filled with beautiful roses" without making me bust a gut. At the very least, I liked Firion a lot more than Warrior of Light personality-wise. And he at least had some semblance of a character, so there's that. You'll still get annoying soul searching lines and angst, which is frankly neither needed or required. I fear that the entire game is going to be like this.

One thing that bugs me about this game is the locations. All fighting games have only a few stages, that's normal. In this game, all the stages are locations within the final dungeon. So you got the bottom of the Northern Crater, the floating castle in the Rift, and the throne room in the Temple of Chaos. Its all okay, and in fact kinda cool to seem them in full 3D. But its not just the fighting that takes place in these spots - its every action in the entire game. Supposedly Firion and his companion, the protagonist from "Final Fantasy X", Tidus are on a journey someplace. But they never make any kind of progress. You're always just shifting around these same spots. The only movement takes place on the game board, there's no real visual clue that any progress is being made. There's hardly a plot either, you just wander around, fighting pallet swaps. Right before boss fights the game remembers that there's a storyline and you'll have a bit of dialogue.

Then again, this is a fighting game, so why the hell am I going on and on about the storyline?

Let's talk more about gameplay. During the battles, you'll find every so often that one character will be launched into the air. This starts a little sequence where both fighters will float next to each other trying to get a hit off. Most of the time the computer will be too dumb to remember that it can dodge, but sometimes if its supposed to be at a high level, it will dodge every strike before giving off a pity hit after like the eightieth time. This worries me since I imagine that if you get two really skilled players into this floating thing, both guys will just dodge each others attacks forever. Also, HP attacks are really freaking slow to charge, they'll take you almost an eternity to get going.

Onto Firion specifically. In FFII, you can basically move things around in a complicated system so that pretty much any character can perform any role. I made Firion my healer/weak attacker. In this game, they seem to have decided to make him the ranged fighter. That's fine, only that his ranged attacks are terrible. You can only perform real Brave Attack combos on the ground - if you're in the air, even just by a foot, he'll instead use this horrible weak homing Ice spell. The ground combos are okay, only that the buttons are terribly confusing. Firion can use more long range combo if you hit Square, but he'll use combo without any range when you hit Square and nudge the nubby thing a bit. Its the exact opposite of what you might expect, and trust me, you'll never get used to it. His only HP attack is "Straightarrow", a super long-range attack that can snipe targets from across the stage. However, with unlimited range comes a really slow charge, and enough distance so that any good player will know to dodge it.

I hear that Firion grows more useful after he's learned more abilities. This doesn't make me any happier since this is a fighting game, remember?? I shouldn't have to learn my abilities! They should be there right from the start! Checking on my former wiki, the only way to unlock those abilities is to level up, in some cases up to level 40 or so. During the course of a chapter, you only gain about ten levels, so I have no clue how in the world the game expects me to get up to level 100.

With this in mind, I decided to try out the Arcade Mode, hoping that in this mode all the abilities would be already unlocked. I can't say if they did, since all the battles basically went exactly the same. I still can't find all the button combos. Other than that, the Arcade Mode is actually a lot more fun than the main game. You don't have to deal with any of that annoying game board or cutscenes. Instead its just a rush mode, you fight five opponents and then you're the champion. And its real characters this time, none of those silly pallet swap crystal things. That makes it all the more satisfying. Too bad the only way to unlock a more difficult Arcade Mode is to buy one. Why does everything in this game have to be unlocked beforehand? The characters, the moves, the chapters, even equipment, character icons, and I think even some stages. Its almost like the game doesn't really want to be played - like its trying to stop me by putting up all these barriers.

Before I leave, I must first depart a nice little horror story from the game. In the second stage, you run into an enemy that is about twice your level. Its a pallet swap of Exdeath, the "Final Fantasy V" villain. I've heard that Exdeath is the joke character of the game, but man this enemy is hard! He starts out with twice as many Brave Point as you have, and no matter how many combos you perform you can never Break him. Breaking is this mechanic in the game where you destroy all the enemies Brave Points, which cripples their ability to use any HP attacks, and greatly boosts your own Brave. That points you in prime position to go on the real offensive and crush them with a serious HP hit. But this time, no matter how many combos you perform, you'll only take out many 100 - then he'll regenerate them somehow. I don't know how it works really. But if you get anywhere near him, eventually Exdeath will pull off a combo of his own, giving him well over 1000 Brave Points, more than enough to toast your ass. The number of Brave Points is equal to the strength of your HP attack. I tried fighting him every which way until eventually I found the only strategy that worked. Instead of fighting him directly, I stayed far away and spammed "Straightarrow". Your Brave always returns to around 130, so you can keep on doing damage. Exdeath has 2500 HP. That means you need to hit him twenty times at least to win. Annoying, yes. But I still beat him. And there is no better satisfaction than pounding that peon's face into the ground.

So that's really all I got to say for now. Next up is a character from "Final Fantasy III" who strangely is not Luneth, the main character. We got a better character this time in Firion, but he's worse gameplay-wise. Hopefully FFIII can deliver both. Even if it doesn't, I'm on this train 'til the bitter end!

1 comment:

  1. I never beat Dissidia, although I got both the jap and US version. Then my brother took my english Dissidia and my PSP, along with a PSN FF7 game. He lost my PSP and everything in it. I may as well have not gotten either of my Dissidias... but my brother owes me a PSP, even though he is broke. But from my experience I remember Zidane and Squall being my favorite to control. Cloud and Firion were both okay but too easy.