Overview - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review
+ One of the best battle systems & most mature stories of the series
+ Finally released in the west after a Japan-only original release
- The school sections in the game are an absolute chore/bore
- Would be perfect for a handheld but not released for the Vita
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD INFORMATION
Release Date: May 17th, 2015
Developer/Publisher: Square Enix
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a PS4 remastering of a PlayStation Portable (PSP) game. Final Fantasy Type-0 for the PSP was only released in Japan, with Type-0 HD being the first chance for western audiences to experience this nontraditional Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD ditches the turn-based style of most of the franchise entries for straight action-oriented gameplay and a vast array of characters. The setting and downtime between missions may put some players off, but the fast paced combat and mature story is more than enough to keep the game interesting.
Story - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review
The setting of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD has become a downright trope in recent years. Following in the school setting that so many JRPGs now feature, Type-0 HD is told from the perspective of the students. This is a military school and as you can guess, these students have been thrust into war. There are four primary kingdoms, each empowered by crystals. You play as the students from Class Zero, a unique group because they can use a mystical power independent of the Crystal, and thus are a great asset in the war against the Milites Empire that seeks world domination with their magic blocking capabilities. While some of the story progresses through the missions themselves, most of it unfolds between the missions during class or at the academy. The dialogue is mostly text as opposed to voice acted and you might find yourself quickly advancing or only half reading in many of those instances due to their poor quality. Much of it is filler, not providing much insight or development to the overall plot and those interactions become tedious. Over time it became easy to identify the useful interactions from the uneventful ones but many times they are unavoidable.
Overall the plot is one of strongest of the Final Fantasy, but the storytelling is some of the worst. The world is interesting but it's a shallow representation and character development barely reaches outside the few main class members you control.
Technical - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review
This originally being a PSP game, the quality you'd expect in a PS4 title is not present. The HD remaster aspect is nice as are some character models that have been redone. The class members all have nicely rendered models that would fit somewhere into the Vita to PS3 spectrum but because of this, the models that have not been updated and thus stand out like a sore thumb. It's one reason that it's strange this game wasn't remastered for the Vita as well since it would have been one of its most beautiful titles.
Similar to other remaster titles the backgrounds and environments appear relatively bland with limited textures and a permanent haze. There are no picturesque blue skies instead replaced by a brownish fog. Some of this can be explained away by the smoke of war but It's too apparent to ignore. It's brings down the overall aesthetic appeal and is one of the biggest technical artifacts remaining from the PSP version.
Music - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review
As with all Final Fantasy games the music of Type-0 features a sweeping orchestral score. It's more generic than other entries but keep in mind that some of the best music in all of video games has come from Final Fantasy. Generic in comparison is still good, it's just not as memorable or influential. Also, the score doesn't seem as varied because of the limited places the game takes place, and some of the music, through no fault of its own is downright repetitive because of how much time you spend in a particular location. It's very 16-bit era in that sense as music in games has become so much more dynamic depending on the situation, regardless of your location, rather than maintaining the same melody no matter the drama or action folding on screen. This doesn't mean that battles don't have their own theme, because they do, but it's all the other moments through dialogue or a curscene that keeps the music uniformed.
Gameplay - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review
Gameplay is where Type-0 HD really shines, but it's the part of the game that take the player away from the battles that is also the most frustrating.
The battle system is similar to the system from Final Fantasy X-2 and in its PSP cousin, Crisis Core. Unlike Crisis Core however, Type-0 HD has a full party instead of just one character. Each one of the attacks mapped to the shape buttons and are executed in real-time. There are many variations of these attacks, which in some instances include movement-canceling, although these can be difficult to execute. With a roster of fourteen playable characters each equipped with relatively unique play styles, you'll find that some of them are more accustomed to your tastes than others. Early on in the game this is a fine way to go about battles, but further on, finding combinations that best suit each other as well as exploiting weaknesses of enemies becomes a necessity. Luckily, even if your preferred character doesn't match up well against a particular foe, it's not hard to find one that does. Some characters are fast or slow, some use ranged weapons, some specialize in close-combat, and they have different specialties for magic use. The player can equip their party with weapons, accessories, and abilities, one ability slot being reserved for a support or defensive-type skill. Before battle, you can choose the leader of their party of three but party members can easily be changed manually, for specific attacks, a different play style or when the leader has been KO'd. Eidolons (summons in other Final Fantasy games), gain EXP and AP separately from the summoner. When summoned, they replace the summoner and the player can't have the summoner again in the party until the mission is finished. When a Eidolon is present on the battlefield, switching to a new character does not remove the Eidolon and cannot be changed until the original casting has been KO'd or retracted. If the Eidolon has been defeated, the character who summoned it will reappear in a KO state. It still allows for reviving until the body disappears for a short period of time. T
Within each broad mission there are also sub-objectives. The game has a world map, and the player can ride chocobos or fly an airship and use its weapons in an aerial battle. Battles are initiated by random encounters, but some tough monsters roam around the world map and chase after players if they get too close and can be difficult to avoid. Battles themselves happen within the "overworld" when traversing between towns or villages during a mission or just exploration while killing time between class. They are randomly generated. Within towns themselves, enemies are not random, but avoiding them is either difficult, or not in line with the point of most missions, so you cannot steer clear of them. Most battles are completed when all enemies have been eliminated but in some cases the victory can be decided in other ways, such as defeating the enemy leader, which will trigger the surrender of its minions.
Most of the game is spent in a mission, traversing the land where if you're not traveling, you're fighting. The other major part of the gameplay is essentially school. It's not as intensive as say, Persona or Legend of Heroes, but it is tedious and feels like busy work to "bond" with classmates. It does serve a purpose as a plot device, but frankly it is a turn off when the rest of the gameplay is so good.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review Roundup
Western audiences had a long time to wait before playing Type-0 and unfortunately it won't have nearly the impact it would have if released on a handheld, whether originally on the PSP or more logically rereleased for the Vita. As it stands though, it still has one of the best battle systems of the series along with one of the most mature, if not greatly told, stories. The classroom and bonding-type aspects between missions comes down to preference, but it can be off-putting to many and has become a staple of many JRPG series, but never Final Fantasy previously. The graphics have a nice sheen to them but there is no mistaking Type-0 HD for a PS4 game.