Some Dissidia observations.

1) I rather like the difficulty curve behind the one-player game. The story behind Dissidia’s quest involves zombie clones of all the characters, who serve as the garden-variety encounter of the game. (Actual characters are bosses.) Each chapter, though, features zombie clones of only a few of the characters — the prologue features Lightning and Kain almost exclusively, Laguna gets a lot of Cloud of Darkness, etc.. My initial read was that they were wasting their expansive cast by only dribbling out new opponents a few at a time, but then I realized that there’s quite a bit more though put into the placement than I’d originally noticed.

For example, early on you encounter a Kain clone whose equipment setup causes him to have extremely high Bravery, but only a single hit point. That means that whoever lands an HP Attack first is almost certainly going to win. The computer, though, spams Kain’s Jump attack over and over. Since one hit is almost assuredly death, you have to learn the timing on dodging the Jump, and that timing is just as applicable against Kains that don’t just spam Jump. This is the kind of thing that’s necessary for all fighting games, but most fighting games just toss you into the fray and expect you to figure out all the tells and dodges for yourself. Dissidia actually puts some effort into training you, which a non-fighting-game player like me appreciates.

2) I’ve mostly played the story characters so far… I fooled around a little bit with Terra, Sephiroth, and Kuja in the quick battle mode, but not enough to say that I really had a handle on them.

I don’t like Lightning at all. I don’t see the point of Paradigm Shift, since Ravager and Medic appear to be entirely useless. (I ended up unequipping all their skills to free up skill points for other things.) The Commando skills seem a lot quicker and easier to hit with. Even then, though, her HP Attacks feel kind of telegraphed and laggy, and they get dodged a lot. I don’t think I’ve landed Razor Gale or whatever since the prologue. Despite that, though, my hard-fought victory against a CPU-controlled Jecht who outleveled me by about eight and had massive Bravery seemed like the first time I really started to get a grasp on how this game works.

Laguna’s got a a similar issue in that his attacks have these weirdly specific ranges that make them tough to hit with — certainly not close-range, but not really long-range either. You have to close the distance some, but not too much. All his attacks seem to have a cooldown time that takes forever, too. I rushed through his chapter as quickly as I could with machine gun.

I just started Kain’s chapter, but I don’t like him very much yet. He’s given me no end of trouble as a computer character, but all his attacks seem to be either so laughably telegraphed that even a computer character on the lowest setting will know to dodge it, or hit at such unlikely angles that they require a lot of finagling to land. Maybe I’ll like him better once I’ve leveled him up some?

It’s not all bad, though! Vaan is great. If you don’t have a better plan, there are worse strategies than to spray the bad guy with crossbow bolts and hope for a chase, and once you’ve closed, Spear and Katana rack up the Bravery damage in a hurry. Only issue here is that his HP Attacks are really slow, and it always feels like luck when I land one. I still haven’t been able to pull off his damn EX Burst properly.

My true favorite, so far, is Yuna. I don’t know why I keep gravitating to these delicate sorceress characters in fighting games (my favorite Smash Bros. character is Zelda, by a mile), but it appears to have happened again. Yuna has good area-of-effect attacks at all ranges, is reasonably quick, and her Aeon-based style of fighting means that her attacks are a lot easier to recognize on the fly than the indistinguishable weapons combat of a lot of the other characters, so I know when I’m doing what I want. It’s just too bad that her actual character is as loathsome as ever.

Tifa hasn’t shown up yet, but I’m looking forward to trying her.

3) I have no idea what I should be buying in the PP store. I’ve unlocked all the characters (other than Prishe and Gilgamesh, who take a little more doing), and I’m kind of wavering between costumes, stages, and these mysterious EXP bonuses.

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