A Spin-Off Worthy of the Name
When Final Fantasy Type-0 HD came out originally in 2011 for the PSP handheld (minus the HD), it didn’t make a huge splash. Chances are that’s because no one had a PSP and it was a JP-only title. But Type-0 HD brings the Action-RPG spinoff of the Fabula Nova Crystsallis series of Final Fantasy games to the Xbox One and PS4, along with a host of graphical upgrades and tweaks. But is this a must-play in storied franchise? Read on for our full review.
Originally intended to be a mobile phone game, and then brought to Sony’s niche handheld, it was never the less a success when it sold nearly a million copies in the first couple of months. But the game was only ever released in Japan for the PSP, so this is the first time Western Audiences are being treated to its unique Action Combat system and the class of military cadets known as Class 0.
The Video Review
Before we get on to the meat and potatoes of the review, let me get this part out of the way: the visuals of Type-0 are still pretty paling in comparison to PS3 games, much less PS4 and Xbox One. It was, after all, a PSP title. Main characters of the 0 class are rendered well, but the rest of the NPCs and lesser characters wind up looking silly compared to the main cast. And when their mouths move? Oh lord, it’s like Muppet hour. Voiceovers are similarly bad, but thankfully Square Enix left the Japanese voices for you to switch to if you’d prefer. Me? I always thought it was funny when the "tough guy" character Nine would end every sentence with the word yo: “I’m not going to take that, yo! We’re going to settle this now, yo!” You’ll see what I mean if you pick this one up.
Additionally, minus the less-than-perfect graphical upgrades, the camera in Type-0 is pretty rough. It hangs too close to your character, gets lost in combat situations, and swings too quickly back behind you when you want to pan it yourself with the right stick. In short, the camera is often a hindrance rather than a help.
Lastly, there’s a huge cast of playable characters, and while you’ll easily level up your favorites just by doing tasks and the main missions, you’ll leave other characters behind in the leveling process. The problem with this is that on harder missions you might need these characters, and they’ll be woefully under-leveled. Grinding them up becomes the only option.
But those are my biggest complaints, and I’m still going to recommend Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for any fan of the series, or fan of JRPGs in general. The action combat should be a nice warm-up for Final Fantasy XV this year (also a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series), and the story is actually a very good one once your past the subpar acting. Plus? Moogles. Need I say more?
The overall structure of the game will be familiar to fans. The overworld of the Orience is traversed on foot, via chocobo, and eventually by airship. Random fights can happen as you roam the world on foot, but not if you’re using chocobo or airship. The former is one of the best ways to level up between the game’s main campaign missions. You’ll spend time between the main missions doing side-quests, capturing and breeding chocobos, training in the arena, and leveling up your magic and skills via a currency called Phantoma. Doing the main campaign missions progresses the story, but time between each mission can be spent doing whatever, which is often necessary to level the members of Class Zero before facing the next big challenge.
You’re members of the Rubrum Dominion, stuck fighting against the power-hungry nation of the Militesi Empire alongside the Lorican Alliance and the Kingdom of Concordia. Class Zero, despite the magic-producing Vermillion Bird Crystal being damaged by the Militesi, still has access to magic. That’s part of the overall mystery you’ll play through with Ace, Machina, Rem and the others. I won’t spoil any of the story, because that’s part of the draw to Final Fantasy in my book. But in a unique aspect of the game’s military slant, you’ll capture and lose cities through the campaign, unlocking new shops and quests. Sometimes you’ll even have RTS-like missions where you command forces on the overworld map as they try to take back captured cities.
The action combat is definitely a fun departure for the series, playing like a cross between recent 3D Zelda games and a less hyper-fast Devil May Cry. You can lock onto targets, dodge roll, and cast spells along with each character’s own unique weapon attacks and abilities. There are moments of opportunity when a target’s reticle might turn yellow or red, and if you strike them precisely at these times you can deal great damage (yellow) or even instantly kill them (red). Each character can also summon Eidolons at the cost of their lives (characters don’t die permanently, but when dead will not be usable again during a mission). Eidolons are temporarily summoned god-like characters such as Ifrit, Shiva, and Bahamut. These are perfect for boss-fights, and really help make you feel powerful when you call upon them.
With a wide range of characters to play, each with their own styles and skills, a deep and mysterious narrative to go through, and very fun combat at its core Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a great way to pass the time between now and when FFXV drops later this year. It may not have all the visual upgrades one would hope for on the new gen of consoles, but Type-0 is supposed to be a first game in a new series for Final Fantasy, and I personally hope that’s the case. The ending most certainly leaves the series open for more stories in the world.
In the end, is Type-0 worth the full $60 price? I’m one who believes gameplay is a greater than graphics alone, and while Type-0 looks a little dated due to its ported status it definitely makes up for the visual shortcomings with great gameplay. If you like Final Fantasy and third-person action combat… get it, and love it. It’s worth your time.
GAMEPLAY – 9: Fantastic combat, lots of diversity in campaign missions, and an addictive character building system make for a solid addition to the Final Fantasy canon.
VISUALS AND SOUND – 6: Musically, Type-0 has the same excellent score we’ve known and love for years, but its dated visuals from the PSP upgrade and poor English voice work hurt the overall presentation.
POLISH – 8: The visuals might not be upgraded that much, and the camera is weak but the overall experience is bug free the controls are tight. Fantastic cut scenes, a solid UI, and a great score make this one shine.
LONGEVITY – 9: With a 40-50 hour main campaign, with a New Game Plus for those looking for a second challenge and more cut scenes? This one can get more of your time than most RPGs these days.
VALUE – 8: It may be a port of a 4 year old game, and yes it may look like a four year old game. But this one’s packed full with content, and has some of the best gameplay the FF series has seen outside of FFXIV:ARR in years. If you’re looking for a JRPG with action-combat to carry you to Final Fantasy XV comes out, make it this one.