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March 2018

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: Jan. 30, 2018


PS4 Review - 'Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 3:00 a.m. PST

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is a team-based brawler that pits legendary heroes and villains from the Final Fantasy franchise together in epic and strategic team battles.

Buy Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT

Dissidia: Final Fantasy was pretty much the perfect idea for a Final Fantasy crossover. Take the main characters and villains of each Final Fantasy game, and have them beat the crud out of each other in hyper-kinetic anime battles. It was exclusive to the PlayStation Portable handheld, which limited its accessibility. Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT is the first console Dissidia game and a port of an arcade release in Japan. Unfortunately, the result is a game that doesn't quite live up to its predecessors.

For those who've never played the previous Dissidia games, they are fast-paced, high-mobility fighting games. All attacks are either HP attacks or Brave attacks, and every character has a meter for both. Brave represents your attack power, so hitting enemies with Brave attacks steals some of their Brave and adds it to your bar. Hitting enemies with an HP attack does direct damage to their HP comparable to the amount of stolen Brave.

Essentially, what this means is that combat centers around building up Brave and cashing it in for big damage. Each character excels at different things. Some are excellent at feints and luring enemies into a single big HP attack. Others may have poorer Brave attacks but can easily land HP attacks. Others are support-based and can raise and lower the stats and abilities of their allies. Each character has a distinctive trait that makes them stand out and synchronize with the rest of the team.

That represents the biggest change to Dissidia NT from the previous games in the series. Rather than one-on-one battles like the PSP versions, Dissidia NT brings in three-vs.-three battles, and that drastically changes the feel of the game. Rather than having to worry about one opponent, you have to worry about entire teams. This also means you can't choose a character based on how he/she does in a one-on-one fight but rather how the team composition can win fights. There are various archetypes such as Assassin, Marksman, Specialist and Vanguard, and they fill different niches and work differently together.

The cast list for Dissidia NT is pretty safe. There's very little that's surprising or interesting except perhaps for Final Fantasy Tactics' Ramza Beoulve, who joins XIV's Y'Shtola, FFXV'sNoctis and Final Fantasy Type-0'sAce as the new playable characters. In other words, the protagonists (or in XIV's case, the most popular character) from the newest games in the series joined the lineup. However, no older cast members have been added, and that's disappointing. A few more characters, especially those who aren't the protagonists, would've done a lot to make it feel more exciting. Even including villains would've done wonders.

The 3v3 setup is a solid example of how bigger isn't always better. The battles are hectic to the point of feeling convoluted and unplayable. The PSP games had some balance issues, but gamers felt in the control of the characters. Here, you're entirely too dependent on your teammates. This makes sense in an arcade environment but feels out of place anywhere else. Other versus games, like the Gundam vs Gundam titles, suffer from similar problems, but their basic mechanics are straightforward enough that they rarely feel out of place in a home release, while Dissidia NT just feels bloated.

This also gives the game a much higher barrier of entry than the previous games in the series. Dissidia for the PSP was a single-player game first and a fighting game second, and that's reversed in Dissidia NT. The game was clearly designed with competitive fighting as its goal, and the result is a game that's confusing, frantic and a bit of a mess. Hopping into the game without previous Dissidia knowledge is a recipe for frustration. The learning curve is a lot higher than a traditional fighting game, which are already pretty difficult to access.

Dissidia NT takes a long time to click, if it clicks at all. Even as someone who loved the previous Dissidia titles, I felt rather cold about it for a while. It's just similar enough to the originals to feel familiar and just different enough to feel off. Once I was willing to judge it on its own merits and put some serious time into the game, I started to have fun. However, that's not a time commitment that everyone will put forth, especially when it involves hours of getting smashed in the face and not knowing what you're doing wrong. This might be a traditional fighting game problem, but it's far truer for Dissidia than recent releases like Dragon Ball FighterZ.

This also brings us to the other big problem with Dissidia NT. It's a very Spartan single-player game, and the content does little to justify buying the game on its own. This is a stark difference from the last Dissidia game, which included a story mode and the entirety of the first Dissidia. The story is told in bizarre, disjointed, unlockable cut scenes that make almost no sense. It feels like a story mode that's been thrown together to justify having a story, and it pales in comparison to other fighting games as well as earlier Dissidia games. There isn't even the fun of seeing the characters interact.

Aside from the story mode, there just isn't much to do. There's the option to take on AI opponents, including in coveted 1v1 matches, but the AI just simply isn't good enough to make it very fun. The original Dissidia didn't have flawless AI, but it was good enough. Here, it feels a perfunctory attempt to slap extra content on an arcade port. There's also the ability to level up your character, but that isn't very exciting.

Dissidia NT's biggest problem is that it's an arcade port. That makes it a rare beast in this day and age, when arcades are a rarity and few titles are being ported from an arcade machine. All of the game's issues are due to the fact that it was made to be played in an arcade against other people. The same can be said of many fighting games. Dissidia NT wants to be approached as a fighting game first, but most modern fighting games work to make their packages feel worthwhile, and Dissidia doesn't.

Dissidia NT is a great-looking game. The characters are all represented in awesome stylish models, and the environments look great. Some of the characters look a little odd, but that's a compromise in translating 2-D sprites to 3-D models. The soundtrack contains a lot of techno and electronic-style remixes of classic Final Fantasy tunes, and they are hit-and-miss. Some of them are awesome, but some of them are absolutely horrible, but I liked fewer remixes than I disliked. All in all, I found it to be a pretty disappointing soundtrack for a franchise that's usually on the ball.

Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is a tough game to like. It's a bare-bones arcade port with a scant new roster, convoluted mechanics, and a story mode that leaves much to be desired. If you're willing to push past all of that, there's a lot of fun beneath the awkward exterior. Players have to be enough of a Final Fantasy fan to persevere and enough of a fighting game fan to feel comfortable with the mechanics. There's something here for fans of the franchise who are willing to put in the effort, but as a single-player game, it pales in comparison to its predecessors.

Score: 6.5/10

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