Review by Andrew Overfield
Edited by Jake Basten
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Square Enix / Koei Temco
Composer(s): Takeharu Ishimoto / Keiji Kawamori / Tsuyoshi Sekito
Audio Lead & Design: Takashi Yoshida
Reviewed on: PS4 (Beta & Release)
For the best part of 20 years I’ve been a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, and I mean the best part in the most sincerest of ways. Intricate storylines, intriguing characters, and engaging plot devices, I’ve been hooked ever since I picked up Final Fantasy VII.
Now I love a good spin off as much as the next person, franchises like Kingdom Hearts that took pivotal characters from the Final Fantasy universe and placed them alongside some well-loved Disney characters and locations turned out to be a huge success. However, there are the spin-offs that raise an eyebrow or two and one of those for me would be the Dissidia series.
My first encounter with Dissidia was in 2008 where we received the PSP release of the game which essentially revolved around a somewhat free-roaming beat-em-up with some of our favourite and more notoriously famous Final Fantasy characters. What I thought would end up being a cheap cash cow (Ergheiz anyone?!) turned out to be quite an enjoyable and engaging game. Battle mechanics were simple being on the handheld device and the story was easy to follow. Albeit loosely aimed at trying to bring all these characters together from different worlds, it worked. It wasn’t trying to be anything it wasn’t and you got what you saw on the proverbial tin.
I never played the sequel, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy but when I discovered its next sequel, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT was coming to a PS4 release I must admit, I salivated a bit.
The opportunity to see these prolific and favourites characters of mine in all their HD glory kicking ten bells of crap out of each other on the big screen definitely piqued my interest.
Initial trailers were released and I was truly excited to get my hands on the game. I managed my own expectations, without expecting an enthralling and detailed story I still expected something to suck me in and keep me entertained for a long time.
The composing team have done a magnificent job at putting together an eclectic and engaging soundtrack to accompany your time in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. It’s wonderful at providing the musical background to what essentially is an arcade beat-em-up. Plenty of synth work recovering some of our old favourites such as Man with the Machine Gun, Dancing Mad, Battle on the Bridge and Opening / Bombing Mission. The opening theme for the game absolutely melts my heart. I will put a link to the YouTube playlist in the article towards the bottom, but you must listen to it. Everything has a somewhat upbeat and energetic edge to nostalgic fan-favourites. And even those you are not so familiar with that maybe from titles you haven’t experienced as much, you’ll be certain to feel pumped to beat the will out of your enemies with!
I’d love to give the team a huge pat on the back, most of the time in fighting games I turn the music down after so much repetition. Slightly disappointed with the lack of One-Winged Angel but I suppose I’ve only heard a hundred different versions already!
This is a bit of a difficult one, so I’m going to separate the sound from the dialogue.
Before I go into somewhat of a rant, I want to draw attention to the fact that for the first time, the team have created a 3 vs 3 scenario in terms of battles. As opposed to previous outings, there is much more happening on screen so I believe some detail can be forgiven to an extent.
However, I did find myself getting distracted by things that meant nothing to my current game-state. For example when focusing on my particular targeted enemy I would hear defined actions happening involving characters at the opposite side of the arena which, even if I wanted to, could change nothing to do with their circumstances. I completely understand the concept of having you immersed in everything happening around you and knowledge of your party’s game-state are important, but I found the focused volume of distant players distracting.
I was quite impressed with the GUI and HUD sound notifications. Sounds that clearly define your position in a particular menu and differentiate between menu modes helps bring a nice balance to the onslaught of chaos between battles. A neat touch, not too dissimilar to the famed menu modes in the Resident Evil series.
One item I wasn’t either amazed or disappointed with, was the actual in-battle effects. You can tell a cleverly created list of attacks and spells and miscellaneous objects has been created. Some that alter depending on your character’s position on the ground or in the air, but I was missing great clashes of swords and weapons to really bring authenticity to the gameplay.
No complaints here. We see the return of some of our old favourite voice actors from previous incarnations of Final Fantasy series games. Steve Burton returns as Cloud Strife, Doug Erholtz returns as Squall Leonhart, Robyn Addison makes a comeback as Y’shtola among many more returning stars. The amount of dialogue is sparse in terms of incidental quotes mid-battle but there is a lot to select from when giving directions to your teammates and speaking in the lobby.
I was a little disappointed with the delivery at times, but this seemed mostly an editing issue. There seemed to be a lot of space in between character’s voice interactions during cutscenes wchih removed some of the immersion a little but overall the delivery was emotional and on point.
If I’m completely honest this game itself felt like a huge let down for me, as a product in it’s entirety. I know this isn’t audio relevant but I feel strongly enough about it I need to say this!
The story system is heavily reliant on your ability to do well in online battles against various other challengers, albeit of a similar ranking. It still doesn’t offer much in terms of a solo experience and I for one, don’t like the heavy reliance on other people’s connections (or lack thereof!).
Story mode (which is mostly just cutscenes) are locked depending on the amount of successful battles and respectively ‘levels-up’ you obtain, which for me is a big negative. I would really like my experience to be determined by my experience and skill in a story based setting. There are a few battles to contend with but not quite the volume I’d expect from what is essentially a Final Fantasy branded fighting game.
Ok rant over.
To summarise, a visually stunning game with an on-point, energetic soundtrack with a solid sound design bed. But, just not enough for me to have been happy parting with my cash for it. Give me the absolute thing I’ve loved in any Final Fantasy game series I’ve ever touched. An amazing, immersive and emotional story!
Until next time…
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