Western fans, the time has come for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD to make the trek to our latest generation of consoles. Originally released in Japan as a 2011 PlayStation Portable game, will this action role-player be able to handle the leap to the much more powerful Xbox One and PS4 consoles?
Well that’s a difficult question to answer because in some ways it does but in others not so much, as you’ll surely gather from the rest of this review.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD takes place in the year 842, where the Militesi Empire has broken a peace treaty by invading and attacking the Dominion of Rubrum. Step forward a group of elite military academy students, Class Zero, who are now tasked with fighting off the Empire and regaining the land of Rubrum. The fate of their country, and the world of Orience, rests on the shoulders of the very best young warriors left standing.
You’ll be sent on missions to re-capture the nearby towns by defeating all whom stand in your way with your merry band of Akademeia students. Usually culminating in some large mechanical beast to destroy or a high ranking commander to battle, they are enjoyable battles even if they feel a little tough at times. This is pure action, where the best warrior will survive, but it’s not always all out combat like that.
Quite early on in the campaign FF Type-0 HD will throw an unconventional spanner in the works with a new style of mission and force the player into becoming a more strategic minded gamer. A spanner in the form of the strategy based initial conquering of the towns in order to actually make our way inside to clear them out. Troops must be sent, from the areas that are re-captured, to tackle the defensive blockades in place and of course you can lend a hand if need be by taking down a few armies to lessen the stronghold.
These two sides to the gameplay aren’t spectacular; however they are enjoyable enough to keep me playing for a little while. Sadly it is the stuff in-between that lets the whole thing down; that’s the cutscenes and the downtime where you end up roaming around Akademeia. I’ll start with the cutscenes where “oh dear” comes to mind because it’s painfully obvious that it’s a port from handheld gaming. Even in HD, the character to character interactions show up the majority of game models for NPCs to be like something I’d expect ten years ago, let alone four! Add to that the length of the yawnfest it becomes with such a bland script, it meant that unless I skipped the cutscenes I’d actually be watching more than playing.
Now for Akademeia which becomes the hub of all things; there’s a ranch to breed chocobos, your Class Zero classroom, combat training, tasks to pick up and more. I never felt the need to use a chocobo so that became non-existent but the classroom is where you can learn from Moglin who teaches you about many things. Or so I thought as no matter what lesson you choose it will churn out some pointless speech then give you a reward of some type, hence nothing is ever learnt. Considering there’s a load of time to use up between missions there should have been a better hub with cooler ideas to spend it on. I can waste two hours at a time making small talk which they consider a quest… not good.
Back to the good stuff and there’s a wide choice available as to how you approach the missions and tasks when it comes to choosing which characters you wish to take to battle. With fourteen pretty unique ones to pick from, there’s a great mixture to suit whatever combat style you feel most comfortable using. If you fancy getting up close and personal then Sice who wields a scythe is ideal, whereas someone like Ace who chucks playing cards from range would be better for players who prefer staying back. For me Ace was like Marvel’s X-Men character Gambit and so he became a bit of a favourite to use most of the time. It’s also best to take in a trio that complement each other, no point having three combatants all using similar defense skills.
All fourteen of the characters in your control can be levelled up to earn ability points which in turn lead to new skills or skill upgrades to purchase with them. It’s rather tricky to keep all of them up at a decent level, especially when I had a preference towards only a couple of the characters. Having such a varied array of skills to fight with though is great fun, for example using a Blizzara BOM causes a blast of ice to those nearby and in the next minute you can switch to a character to throw some lightning into the mix.
Gameplay can be enjoyable even in a game you aren’t invested in which is how I felt during Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. I tried to keep interest in the story, keen to learn and hopefully getting drawn into this magical world but it wasn’t to be. Its terribly written scenes that did nothing to entertain me in tandem with the kind of visuals, that I’d get my original Xbox out for if I wanted to see them, just made me want to skip it all. During the combat or strategic side of missions though, I can get stuck in for an hour or so at a time.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a game of two halves with the gameplay being the good part and pretty much everything else letting the game down.