Ever fire up a new game and within the first twenty minutes feel morbidly depressed? I have. Recently.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a remastering and localization of the PSP title of the same name. This release comes out of the Square Enix pattern of remastering their games; however, this one is unique because this is the first time it is playable in English. The game follows the story of a country being torn apart by a war comparable to World War II, focusing on a powerful group of young adults trying to make a difference.
Before I go into this review, let me assure my readers that I did take the fact that this is a PSP game on the PS4 into consideration in all aspects of my criticism.
Those teens are members of the most elite group in Akademia, Class Zero. These characters each have their own style, making it fun to experiment with several characters to find one that fits. The combat engine is set in real time, but common battles take place in their own separate space most of the time. Many main quests actually stay in a battle mode, allowing players to engage in skirmishes in the overall war or avoid enemies altogether. There is even a real-time strategy inspired mechanic that appears from time to time. While it adds variety, these segments usually lack depth.
There are many side missions that often reward curious players with items, spells, and abilities. These missions are fairly bland, but are a nice option, since the main game is fairly short. Unfortunately, there are many rewards that are worth putting up with lame missions. Players will find themselves running back and forth for much of the game just to find cool content.
Visually, Type-0 has an anime inspired look and feel, with detailed character models and effects. Compared to previous Final Fantasy games, Type-0 is much darker in tone, even though it pays homage to several other games in the franchise. Violence drives much of the drama with characters dying on screen with sprays of blood. Classic Final Fantasy creatures are also given an interesting spin and feel more dangerous.
Class Zero’s warriors each have unique animations that flow well and look great. The choreography alone is worth praise as monsters are chopped up, blasted away, or lulled to sleep by pleasant flute music. Summons still hold up as some of the best moments of the action as powerful allies burst into existence. These beings are also controllable, adding to their presence on the battlefield. The way these creatures are designed are always interesting to compare to past iterations.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the game is its graphical issues. Action is fast paced, fluid, and cinematic, but the game’s camera has a hard time keeping up. This is especially true when trying to manually pan the camera, as many assets simply disappear in an attempt to have motion blur. I also found the game to be hurtful to the eyes in long stretches, making it hard to play.
Adding to this is the dreadful pace to the game. The first hour or so of play is filled with gorgeous cutscenes, tons of action, and culminates in the summoning of Odin. These moments set the stage way too high for the rest of the game. Players must prepare for missions by poking around the world in search of events.
The opening segment of the game also forces me to mention another problem I have with Type-0: character development is almost non-existent. This is a game with fourteen playable characters and not a one gets any sort of development in the first three hours. The driving drama of the story is the death of a completely unknown character. Even though the scene is tragic just from its direction, there’s no reason for players to care, unless they’re a Chocobo rights activist. Even after about ten hours of play, I have no idea who any of the characters in Class Zero are, what their motives are or why they’re together. Even side quests don’t offer those key character details that could make the game great. It’s a shame too, cause many character interactions, like those between Ace and Mother or Rem and Machina, ooze possibilities.
Before giving my final thoughts, I’d like to take this chance to clarify that I have not finished Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.
Many of the technical complaints I have about the game could, and hopefully will, be fixed in a patch. There could also be more character development towards the end, however, the game’s awesome opening left me with a lot of expectations that have yet to be matched. I want to love this game for its style, darker tone, and fluent combat engine, but its flaws make that impossible.The only thing keeping me playing is the art style.
In fact, I had lost faith in Final Fantasy after buying Final Fantasy XIII the day it released. Type-0 was a glimmer of hope for me, but I was let down. Luckily, the demo packaged with Type-0 rekindles that hope. Final Fantasy XV looks to be one of the greatest games of all time, but I won’t know for sure until it comes out.
Even considering its origins as a portable title, Final Fantasy Type-0 gets six dead chocobos out of ten.