Dirge of Cerberus offers an intriguing narrative centered around Vincent Valentine, a notable character from Final Fantasy VII, with a range of additional missions in a typical shooter format. As with previous Final Fantasy installments, the pre-rendered cutscenes are captivating. However, if you're expecting a character-driven epic akin to the Final Fantasy series, Dirge of Cerberus may disappoint, providing only moderate enjoyment with its focus on gunplay.
Set three years after Vincent, Cloud, and their team saved the world from destruction, the game follows Vincent as he confronts a group of soldiers called Deepground, who seek the Omega weapon to destroy the world. Vincent's mission is to save the world by uncovering the secrets of his past and his role in Deepground's plans.
Despite multiple plot twists and the introduction of new characters, the story remains engaging and features familiar faces from the Final Fantasy universe. The game adopts a mission-based structure, punctuated by lengthy cutscenes, where players must navigate Vincent through various levels, meeting new characters and eliminating enemies along the way.
Although the game is action-oriented with numerous engaging stages, it falls short in excitement. Players control Vincent in a first-person shooter style, using the right analog stick for aiming and the left for movement. Target support options enable players to lock onto the nearest enemy. Weapon choices are limited, with the Cerberus pistol being the primary weapon, which can be upgraded to inflict more damage.
Cutscenes are cinematic, with detailed animations and lifelike facial expressions reminiscent of the Advent Children film. However, some cutscenes are excessively lengthy, featuring melodramatic dialogue that disrupts the game's pacing.
The soundtrack complements the game's action, featuring a mix of quiet, ambient tunes and dramatic, orchestrated tracks. A high-pitched theme song by Japanese pop star Gackt plays during the end credits. Unfortunately, the sound effects, such as gunshots and explosions, are underwhelming.
Completing Dirge of Cerberus takes an experienced player around ten hours, and finishing the main mission unlocks forty-five additional missions with a decent variety of challenges. The game offers multiple difficulty settings and optional missions to keep players engaged. Though the Japanese version features multiplayer mode, it is absent from the North American version.
For die-hard Final Fantasy fans, Dirge of Cerberus presents a tough choice. As a generic shooter, it fails to meet the standards of contemporary action games on the PS2. Drawbacks include awkward camera movement, lackluster environments, limited weapon selection, lackluster gunplay, and frequent cutscenes that hinder the pace of the game.