OH GOD IT'S BEEN TOO LONG
Ever have that giddy feeling of excitement when there's a new game in a series you haven't played in ages, and then you finally get your hands on the new game - okay, a beta of the new game - and you're completely awful at it because you've unlearned everything? Yeah. That.
This morning I got an email saying that I had been picked for the Dissidia NT closed beta. Even though I skipped 012 and haven't played the original in ages, I always felt like Dissidia had potential as a series so would always want to check out new entries. Furthermore, the arcade game looked sweet and I wouldn't have thought that we'd get any new Dissidia on home consoles. But here we are. The beta's menu has three options - Matchmaking, Practice and Tutorial. Just like the PSP game, your roster has characters from various numbered FF games (here, they're picked from the first 14 games) and you can give them a "battle set" which is like a predetermined HP attack and pair of EX moves. You then select one of seven "summons" which each offer a pair of passive buffs - reduce opponent guard stamina, increase bravery recovery, increase dash recovery, increase max HP, and so on.
Before I go on, a quick catch up - in Dissidia you have bravery attacks and HP attacks - the former drains an enemy's "bravery" or attack power (by "drain" I mean that their attack power goes down and yours goes up) and the latter cashes out your accumulated attack power for one big strike. This means that everyone will be fighting over bravery and trying to get big hits in. There are also EX moves that act like big special moves and are on cooldowns, and absurdly long dashes that are governed by a stamina gauge Anyway, the big thing about NT (for me at least) is the 3v3 format, as it means that you've always got to watch each others' backs and it's not as straightforward as the standard one on ones. A great feature of NT is that health gauges above players will glow in parts, showing how much they've been affected by bravery attacks. Therefore if someone on your team looks like they can be eliminated in one hit you've kind of got to look out for them.
The main aspect of combat that has been getting me killed is the curse of the long recovery - if I mistime a move and am left waiting for an animation to reset, I'm pretty much asking to get beaten down. That said, there are different characters on offer so I can always swap out my Onion Knight for someone else if it's just not working out Even so, combat is great most of the time and battles go by really quickly, so if you struggle in one match it's not long before you're on to the next one. Also, the presentation is really good - character models and arenas look great and the music's not bad. The one weird thing I experienced was this one moment when I was waiting for the game to find team-mates and I couldn't back out of the screen or check menus or anything, but that might be a beta thing.
Oh, as an aside - the tutorial is kind of terrible. It's a rolling video that's captioned with instructions and controller buttons whilst gameplay videos play. So you'll be trying to take in one thing and it'll instantly move on to the next before you're ready. And I think if you hit a button it backs out to the menu without warning. At least the beta includes an option to practice against AI opponents.
Anyway, if you like Dissidia combat you'll probably like this. The amount of decent fighters on the way - Marvel, DBZ, this, the Arika game - is amazing and terrifying at the same time, and I hope this doesn't get left behind.