Final Fantasy Type-0 HD review

Final Fantasy Type-0 originally saw release solely in Japan on PSP but it quickly gained a following in the west, thanks to its real-time, fast paced combat, intriguing characters and narrative, plus its overall different take on the Final Fantasy formula. Finally we see the title hit our shores, along with an HD polish and a surprising leap to home console, but can this unique Final Fantasy meet the high expectations of series’ fans?

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD focuses on Class Zero, a band of 12 teenagers, highly trained in combat and magic so to counter any attack on their nation. A surprise invasion thrusts the group into action and an intriguing tale unfolds about nations going to war, and just how far people are willing to go to achieve victory. It’s a more grounded story than many of its Final Fantasy predecessors and a good one at that, and despite the presence of magic, crystals, and L’cie due to its tie-in with the Fabula Nova Crysallis series, it’s a more relatable drama overall.

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However, it certainly isn’t the best structured and delivered tale. Awkward dialogue fails to inform and serves to unnecessarily lengthen what little coherent explanation there is. Meanwhile, poor voice work and odd scene switching and cuts in cut scenes makes the narrative hard to follow. It’s also structured in a way that requires two playthroughs to fully grasp what’s going on, and with an average completion time of 25 hours, it asks a lot from its audience. It is worth the slog in the end, if you’re at all invested in the narrative, and the characters are deeper and more interesting than they first seem, it’s just a shame there’s so many barriers to break through before you see Type-0’s more impressive story aspects.

It’s a similar story with the rest of the experience. Type-0 boasts a unique, fast paced, real-time combat system that wonderfully balances tactics and strength to achieve a very different style of combat to what series’ fans are used to. It’s far less about grinding levels and a lot more about analysing your enemy’s style of combat, looking for opportunities to attack, and exploiting weaknesses. Furthermore, it’s not only about the strength of your magic and attacks but also about moving around the battlefield swiftly and taking your time, choosing which character best suits the enemy, which attack or spell to use, then which angle. It’s brilliantly strategic. However, as refreshing as the combat is, camera and lock-on problems get in the way a bit.

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The camera is very sensitive, whether moving your character around in the world or in combat it spins at a blistering speed at the slightest nudge of the analogue stick. If objects or walls get in the way it’ll dash around to try and avoid them, and as it does so a nauseating motion blur effect kicks in. It’s intractable and frustrating, and the omission of any options to reduce sensitivity is baffling. Meanwhile, the lock-on mechanic has a tendency to get stuck on enemies, and whilst another mechanic which has you draw energy from fallen foes is no doubt the reason for this, it’s still frustrating when you mean to switch to a different target.

Type-0’s presentation is also a mixed bag. Whilst main characters look great, the rest of the cast look wooden and featureless. There’s a noticeable difference between the 12 Class Zero cadets and other NPC, and when they’re in the same cut scene together the comparison is shocking. Environments and enemies also run the gamut from detailed to bland, the new musical arrangements, however, are stunning, with several catchy pieces that burrow away into your brain. Certainly there’s a lot of visual let downs but there’s a clever aesthetic consistency with it all that helps hide the worst of it, such as filters during cut scenes. Even the aforementioned motion blur serves to hide some of the rough edges. Fortunately, the overall experience fairs a great deal better.

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Type-0 is separated into eight chapters that progress the story, however, in-between chapters you can explore other avenues. You can to talk to NPCs and your fellow cadets, learning more about the world, the war, and your comrades. You can also conduct side missions, raise chocobos, or train your characters. Each activity takes up a chunk of time, of which you have a limited amount of between each story missions, so you have to be selective over what you choose to do. And if you don’t fancy doing any of the side activities you can talk to your commander and carry on with the main story. It’s a varied set of options to keep you busy, and with several secrets hidden away it’s worth exploring them. However, thanks to the tactical combat style, grinding isn’t as necessary so you’re free to push on with the story if that’s what you’d prefer.

The majority of the chapters place you in linear locations where you travel between fights on foot. Up to 3 characters from the set of 12 can be chosen to form your party and you can switch control between them as you fight. Each character sports a different style of combat, abilities, and magic and whilst certain skills will prove more effective against particular enemies, you’re pretty much free to pick your preferred characters. During chapters Special Orders crop up that challenge you to complete an objective or your party leader dies. It’s a risk to accept them but the reward in buffs and bonuses is almost always worth it. In addition to the on-foot combat, RTS style missions task you with commanding troops on the world map, offering a very different experience.

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The original’s multiplayer isn’t present isn’t this HD port, however, replacing it is the option to have special AI controlled party members with the names of the development team join up with you instead. It’s a neat replacement but still a shame the original multiplayer component couldn’t make the transition.

It’s visually rough around the edges and the lock-on can prove a nuisance, but the tactical combat is superb and the depth of its large cast of 12 main characters is impressive. The story is also intriguing just hidden a bit behind bad structure and storytelling techniques. Certainly it’s one of the most refreshing Final Fantasy titles in quite some time, and builds oodles of excitement for what might be with Final Fantasy XV. Don’t let the flaws put you off, this is a great action RPG.

Thanks to Xbox & Square Enix for supplying TiX with a download code

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