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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

By WskOsc25-08-2015
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

The Defence

Square Enix
Square Enix
Action, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 2.7 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 750
AMD equivalent
6 GB
30 GB

The Case

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is the PC port of a console port of a PSP game released only in Japan back in 2011. The story follows the exploits of a class of cadets at a military academy as they partake in the battles and important events of a huge world war. It's brutal and silly in equal measure and despite not being a traditional JRPG it's unmistakably Final Fantasy. By way of disclaimer; I have not played the entire game to finish on the PC but have finished the original PSP version a couple of years ago.

The Trial

Type-0 opens with one of the most unapologetically brutal introduction videos of all time. It has more violence than the entire Rambo quadrilogy and enough horrible deaths for Jigsaw to jerk off to for a week. People get set on fire, blasted with lightning, shot and stabbed with alarming regularity. This is not the whimsical Final Fantasy Warriors of Light romp that the series started as, nor is it the whimsical yet serious adventure the series grew into at its peak – a point which is driven home when you see the Final Fantasy equivalent of a nuke, the Ultima spell, literally turned into a city destroying bomb that is blatantly influenced by images, and cultural memory of the Fat Man nuclear weapon dropped on Nagasaki.

Then you're dropped into the actual gameplay, third person over-the-shoulder action, and given a safety net in the form of an item that allows you to be revived instantly at no penalty during the majority of the tutorial mission. The point is supposed to be to remove the stress so that you can focus on learning the mechanics but all it serves to do is teach you the buttons and procedures but not how to effectively use them. Several missions at the start are a complete cakewalk that you have to actively try to fail but after a couple of hours you come to a boss fight against a villain in Magitek armour who is stupidly fast and immensely powerful and will stomp half your team in a matter of minutes while you struggle to get in range to tickle him with your pathetic early game weapons.

Burns burns burns they're getting higher!

Burns burns burns they're getting higher!

After being slapped awake like that it's easy to see players being divided into two camps; those who will want to see this through to the end and those who have had enough of its shit already. You have to want to win in Type-0 and work hard for that victory through training, not just grinding for in-game stats and items (more on that later!) but also training yourself. Your skill as a player plays a large part in success and you'll be tested on your ability to stay calm and in control via several systems that come together to make the battles against evenly matched enemies an engaging experience; you'll need to be able to position yourself tactically, know when to switch positions with a friendly either to save one of you from damage or to use their skills, learn to exploit enemy attack patterns to land critical hits and stuns and manage your resources like mana and action points as well as learning the different combos and commands of fourteen unique characters.

If all that sounds a bit overwhelming then that's because it is. You're relatively well eased in, with generous save points and a well balanced early levelling curve that means your core party will usually be stronger than the average enemy by a decent margin so you've got plenty of room to experiment and practice against common enemy types to the point where they become trivial encounters resolved with one-shot kills.

The conclusion of the tightly controlled introduction opens up the game world to exploration and exploitation. Your base of operations between missions is the academy itself, a massive complex of classrooms, shops, training opportunities and social areas. You're limited by how much you can achieve thanks to a time system that makes certain actions cost you a limited chunk of your class' free time between missions. Sounds like a great method to keep your levels on par with the story while giving you some freedom to wander off doesn't it? Well, it isn't. Early on the system allows six or twelve hours between missions with tasks taking two or six hours of that time to complete but soon you're given a day or more of free time and it becomes overwhelming and something you'll just want to skip.

This is why you don't wake him from the Odin-sleep.

This is why you don't wake him from the Odin-sleep.

That would be a mistake. With fourteen characters to train that's a LOT of necessary grinding for experience and money to keep them properly outfitted. This can be partially mitigated via a Secret Training option in the academy that saves your game and then dumps you to the main menu, allowing you to replay old missions but not progress in the story while one character is trained by NPCs. The amount of training you get is based on how long you leave the character in the secret training program, though you can load up the save game and go back into the story mode to pull that character out of training and cash in their earned XP at any time.

The grind isn't the only issue Type-0 has, one outstanding annoyance from the original release that has made it all the way into these newer ports is the horrible alarm that sounds constantly as soon as your free time is up all the way through your mission briefing and then all the way to the exit of the academy. If you have to stop off at the shops after that time runs out you might be looking at five or ten minutes of a klaxon sounding incessantly.

Other little issues crop up too; disparate texture quality is one prevalent throughout the game, with beautiful textures shiny with reflections right alongside blurry, pixelated floors and buildings lifted right from the original PSP release. PC gamers have something else to complain about – the controls are just horrendous with a mouse and keyboard. Those familiar with the recent Toukiden: Kiwami release will be familiar with the two-hands-on-keyboard scheme that attempts to make the keyboard act like a control pad but only serves to make the game all but unplayable without an actual control pad on hand. With a pad the game plays fine, the controls feel like they've been tuned up since the original release and there's no control lag even with the 30 FPS framerate cap.

Totally note a nuke guys.

Totally note a nuke guys.

Type-0 is a hard game to talk about without sounding like you're rambling, without spoiling the story, or sense of discovery but it's such a mash-up of disparate parts that somehow simultaneously work and break up the cohesive whole. It's by no means a perfect game but it's also a unique experience that's equal parts Dark Souls and Final Fantasy and offers something we've not really seen games attempt before or since, probably for good reason.

Where Type-0 really shines is the personal progression of the cast. Ace and the rest of the card-themed Agito Cadets are relatable and likable in varying degrees thanks to their wildly different personalities. Outsiders Rem and Machina, thrust into the Agito group but distinctly apart from it – you're even explicitly told that they're not special like the rest – give a more relatable angle to the player despite Ace being the one presented as the players avatar during the introduction sequence. In the end everyone is important, your relationship with your team and your personal feelings towards events will be echoed somewhere in the cast so you never feel excluded from the proceedings.

The Verdict

Overall Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is functional, both as a game and as a port. It has a mature and personal story to tell that's well worth the hassle of actually progressing to experience. It might not be a game you'll sit down with all day but feels better suited to picking up for a couple of hours at a time, picking at it like you might a day old pizza with the knowledge that you have to finish it or it'll go to waste, but you can't really stand too much of the damaged flavour at once. If you have the time and patience to sink into this absolutely gigantic commitment, the drive to succeed and the willingness to try something new then Type-0 is worth a look, so long as you have a control pad to play it with.

Case Review

  • Personality: A cast more varied and likable than Gilligan's Island.
  • Mature: Surprisingly mature, even for a Final Fantasy game.
  • Sloppy: The port isn't bad but it is lazy.
  • So Much: There's so many systems tripping over each other.
  • Controller Required: Seriously, the keyboard controls are a nightmare.
Score: 3/5
It's a port of a port of a PSP game and it shows, but the original game is pretty good.
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Harsh, but fair