“We have (re)arrived”
Available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (tested)
Let’s get things straight: from the very first second of the game, you can tell this isn’t your usual Final Fantasy game. While the “military force invasion to other nations in order to steal their crystals” story is one familiar within the franchise, the maturity of how the story is told is novel. I mean, you wouldn’t expect that during the first 5 minutes you have:
- Teenager magic wielders shot down to death
- Bahamuth falling and splashing blood to the camera (also dying)
- A chocobo dying while his master (also dying) cries out in pain “I don’t want to die”.
Yes, a freaking chocobo dies within the first 5 minutes. Things like that are shocking, and that’s what got me hooked from the very beginning to the game.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Let’s do some recap of how this unique Final Fantasy was born. It was the year 2006 and Square Enix was announcing not one, not two, but THREE Final Fantasy games at once, under the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” name. Said games were Final Fantasy XIII, the PS3 exclusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII and the PSP exclusive Final Fantasy Agito XIII. Later on, 2 of the 3 games would suffer a name change: Agito XIII would become Type-0 and Versus XIII is the still in development XV. The three games are supposed to be based in the same mythos, focusing around crystals and the deities they are tied to.
Fast forward to 2011 and Type-0 was a huge success in Japan, selling almost a million copies as of today, only in PSP. But the thing was that the game only released in Japan and never had an official translation to other languages. At least, until today; the HD version of the game not only makes it available to other countries in term of languages, but also overhauls the game’s aesthetics to a degree.
Type-0 tells us the story of how the Milites Empire started invading the other 3 regions of Orience in order to get ahold of their crystals, using all kinds of new technology and with it a game changing artifact: the Crystal Jammer, which has the ability to nullify the magic wielding abilities related to the sacred stones. Victory over Rubrum dominion seems inevitable, as this artifact makes its soldiers vulnerable… Except for the elite Class 0, a group of lads and gals that can wield magic despite of the crystal jammer’s presence.
The story is really strong, albeit sometimes it gets a little too complicated to follow, mostly due to the fact of mythos elements incorporated almost out of the blue. It is also worth noting the way most of the cutscenes are brought to life, as they look really good with that granular effect which gives a “war documentary” sensation, and also takes advantage of the graphics improvement overall. I would like to make emphasis in this last sentence, since I have seen lots of HD remasters that have crafted beautiful graphics in game, but left the cutscenes with their standard definitions, making an awful contrast.
As far as the HD remaster goes for the actual game, Class 0 members look gorgeous as well as some other characters from the main cast. Environments, on the other side, don’t have the same level of detail as our pretty main characters; textures are pretty dull and could have been better. Game looks better than its PSP counterpart? Sure, but it could have look even better. On the sound and music side of the remaster, the new versions of the songs are, in my opinion, a step forward from the originals, as they sound better and fill you with epicness; just play the intro mission with “The Beginning of the End” raging in the background and tell me you don’t feel like killing those Imperial Soldiers. The entire soundtrack has a Crisis Core vibe and it’s very good, almost a trademark in every FF title. The same goes for the voice acting, which features a rich variety of personalities within the Class 0 members, granting another layer in the difficult task of having 14 main characters that feel different from each other.
Talking about the 14 characters leads me towards the best feature of the game: the almost flawless and really enjoyable combat system. For those who played Crisis Core, the game has a similar layout: levels with different sections to explore in a dungeonesque style. Either you are going for a story mission or you just want to roam across the world map (yes, it has an old school FF world map, and I shall toast to that), you have the freedom to choose 3 characters from the 14 the elite squad has, each of them with a very defined fighting style that includes, just to name a few, cards wielder Ace, Sice’s crowd controlling scythe, Jack’s katana and King’s dual revolvers.
Once set, whenever you go into a fight, you get to control one of the characters while the other two are controlled by the games’ not-so-bright AI. Battles are in the vein of action rpgs such as Crisis Core or Kingdom hearts, where you can move freely, dodge, lock on to a character and perform a variety of attacks, spells and abilities that later on can be combined. It has a downside, which is the sometimes clunky lock on/camera system that loves to go nuts every once in a while. But the cool fact about this battle system is that you can rotate between the three characters with just pressing one button. Action is fast paced and you WILL have to rotate between the 3 of them in order to succeed. When one of the three members falls, you can’t revive him/her until mission is over, however, you can replace it also on the fly with one of the remaining Class 0 members. If you reach the point where all 14 members are killed during a mission, it’s game over.
I really loved the fact that, despite some exceptional cases, you can’t bring back ”dead” members to life during a mission, since it gives like a wounded soldier feel which matches with the whole essence of the game: kingdoms are at war, soldiers get hurt, soldiers die. This aspect of the game will force you to prioritize two things: you will play the game with more caution in order to avoid casualties and you will want to level up your characters evenly, in case you need to swap members while in a mission. Only the three characters that are battling gain xp and level up, so you definitely will be spending quality time with these charming lads and gals. One particular mode helps to this end, which is the Mission Mode, where you can replay every story mission in any of the three available difficulties, with the members you choose. All the xp and items gained during those replays are transferred to your actual save, making the level up process a little more entertaining than random encounters and killing a million low level creatures.
To sum up, I’m really enjoying my time with the game. I found the game’s difficulty is spot on, the game will punish you if you make a mistake, and will punish you even more if you are playing in Agito difficulty (which I recommend to leave for your New Game+ run, since first enemies will be lvl 31).
Should you play it? If you fancy yourself like playing an entertaining and addictive action RPG, despite of how it looks, FF Type-0 HD is hard to pass by, mostly because of its superb combat system and its darker take on the series’ mythos.