Dissidia Final Fantasy NT review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT marks the first home console release for the Dissidia spin-off series, with the previous entries releasing on the PSP starting back in 2008. Oddly enough, the portable versions of Dissidia feel more like full-fledged games than NT, which is sort of a shame considering this is a pretty good looking entry. I?d imagine most of that comes down to Dissidia Final Fantasy NT being a port of an arcade release, but I still can?t help but feel like this is a stripped down version of a series that I?ve actually enjoyed in the past.

If you?re not familiar with the Dissidia series, it?s essentially a fighting game with Final Fantasy characters culled from pretty much all the numbered entries along with a couple spin-offs like Tactics and Type-0. This isn?t a fighter in the Street Fighter or Tekken sense of the word, but it?s more of an arena-based setup, sort of similar to the old Power Stone series from the SEGA Dreamcast.

This version of the game is almost entirely focused on 3 vs. 3 battles, featuring some pretty large maps that allow you to fight against A.I. or real opponents online. Every fighter has a set of abilities that are usually shared across the roster, but with a few directional commands added in that help differentiate each combatant. There are two primary attacks, one that makes use of Bravery points, and the other that affects HP. Bravery attacks deplete your opponents own pool of Bravery points while adding to yours, while HP attacks will deplete their actual health, leading to a victory. The amount of Bravery points you have when unleashing a successful HP attack dictates how much damage you do, so the idea is to build up Bravery before going for the kill.

The combat system doesn?t feel that different here from previous entries, the basic concept of Bravery and HP is pretty standard for the Dissidia series. It makes for an interesting push/pull element in combat, and certainly helps to liven up the action. In conjunction with this, the limited block and dodge mechanics for defense add another element of strategy that lifts the combat up and beyond a simple button mashing experience. If you?re playing against real people, you?ll need to really get a feel for when to attack, when to run, and when to dodge in order to stand any chance of winning. It does feel rewarding when you start to get into the swing of things, which is pretty much what anyone would want out of a fighting game.

That said, the online component this time around is a little iffy. I?ve had little trouble finding full matches, but the matchmaking progress is often slow, taking a good minute or more to find a match when searching for random players. And then when you?re in a match, its sort of a toss-up as to whether you?ll have a good connection. More often than not I seem to encounter a whole lot of lag, which really detracts from the overall experience.

Unfortunately, playing online is sort of the meat of the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT experience too. The offline modes are pretty bare bones, allowing for skirmishes against the A.I. or gauntlet matches with increasing difficulty against a number of A.I controlled teams. There is a story mode, but it?s structured in an odd way, and features some really frustrating boss battles against summons that are more aggravating than they?re worth. To be able to progress in the story mode you also need to play other modes, either online or off, in order to unlock additional nodes on a map. If you?re primarily interested in checking out the story, and don?t feel like playing against the A.I. in skirmishes or dealing with the laggy online play, this can definitely deflate your interest in continuing with the game.

On the plus side, the game does look pretty nice and the character roster does a good job of culling fan favorites from the various Final Fantasy entries of years gone by. There?s a lot of room for more, with a few definitely coming out via DLC, but pretty much every major Final Fantasy is well-represented. I also dug most of the musical arrangements and classic tracks included. The loot crate (only in-game ?currency?) style unlocks don?t feel awful either, generally just doling out player icons, music tracks, and alternate costumes for your roster.

I would suggest checking out Dissidia Final Fantasy NT if you?ve played the other Dissidia titles, but I?d temper your expectations when it comes to content. You?ll blow through the story mode quickly enough, and then you?ll just be left with a pretty sub-standard online experience that is definitely in need of some work. The stripped out RPG elements from the previous Dissidia titles really do this entry a disservice, and I think hewing too closely to NT?s arcade roots was a bad call. Still, I can?t help but feel there?s something worth playing here, even if it?s not the best Dissidia game to date.

Square Enix provided us with a Dissidia Final Fantasy NT PS4 retail copy for this review.

Grade: C+