Only For the Hardcore Fans
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a strange game with a stranger history. It was originally announced as a mobile phone/PlayStation Portable game called Final Fantasy Agito XIII before Square Enix dropped the mobile phone platform and changed the game’s name. It was then only released in Japan in 2011 for PSP. Its HD port to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is actually the first time gamers in the West have been able to play the title. As with most other JRPGs that take years to come west, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD had a lot of hype leading up to its release. But was it able to deliver on that hype?
No, it wasn’t. There really isn’t any other way I can say it. However, just because it didn’t live up to the hype doesn’t mean that it’s not an okay game!
Type-0 HD’s story follows Class Zero, a group of students with strange magical power in the Dominion of Rubrum. After the Militesi Empire attacks the other states of Orience, Class Zero stands as Rubrum’s only chance to survive the onslaught and win the war. The story is presented in a historical documentary format and is much darker than other Final Fantasy games.
It’s hard for me to say whether or not I liked the story, as most of it was lost on me. The scenes between chapters that are meant to move the story along only managed to confuse me. Square Enix used its own year system, making it difficult to understand how much time had moved forward in each chapter. The narrator lists off country names and leaders as if we were supposed to know who/where any of them are/were. Example of how one scenes play out: “Country X moved on Country Y in random year Z. Leader A declared so and so on Country X. Attack Force D was sent to defend City M but were defeated by Attack Force F.” Can you see how hearing all of this chapter after chapter could get confusing?
The better half of the story is the mystery surrounding Class Zero. You find out quickly that there is something extremely weird about Class Zero, but aren’t given a reason why. During each chapter, between missions, you are able to explore the academy and talk to classmates and take on sidequests. Sometimes talking to a classmate will trigger a cutscene that gives you more insight on who that character is, and sometimes it’s a pointless conversation. Because of the mystery that is Class Zero, I spent a LOT of time exploring the academy, trying to find every cutscene in hopes that I could find out a little more about who they were. This really helped keep me engaged throughout the 20+ hour story.
Graphically, Type-0 HD is far from “HD”. Character models for your party, NPCs, and enemies all look like they were pulled directly from a PSP game (for obvious reasons). Cutscenes don’t look much better, as they are very blurry and you can tell they were meant for a standard definition screen. However, the worst part is easily the camera. Moving the camera around (using the right analog stick) will more than likely make most players sick, as it moves at lightning speed. I was able to quickly adapt to the jarring motion, but based on what I’ve heard from the community, many haven’t been able to play it due to the camera.
And then there is the voice acting. I am known for championing English dubs in every game and anime, but in the case of Type-0 HD, I think it would have been better suited to only have English subs. Write that down, as I have never said that about anything before, and I may never say it again. The voice acting in Type-0 HD is god-awful. The story tries constantly to pull at your heartstrings when it tells the emotional tale of Class Zero, but it’s so easy not to care at all about how sad some of them are when the actors sound like they’ve never voiced a character before. It also doesn’t help that some of the characters were written to sound like idiots (see below).
The combat system is extremely fast-paced, especially when you take the time to grind your level up. Each member of your party has his or her own weapon specialty ranging from short-range to long-range, and each character also has the ability to use magic attacks. The goal is to hit the enemy when their killsight pops up, which basically means that if you hit them at that moment, it kills them instantly. There aren’t a whole lot of enemy variations in the game, so figuring out their patterns and only hitting their killsight becomes extremely easy.
What is interesting about the combat system is that if your character dies in battle, they won’t come back for the rest of the mission. Because you have all of Class Zero (15 different characters) at your disposal, you can quickly swap out any defeated team members with fresh ones. Early on, if you don’t take the time to learn the system, or are underleveled, you will probably die a lot, forcing you to test out more characters. As you’ll come to find out, most close combat classmates play the same as each other and so do all of the long-range classmates.
Boss battles are much harder than fighting your typical pawn enemies (as they should be). These fights felt much more like a timed chess match, forcing me to dodge repeatedly in several directions as fast as I could while I waited for the boss to slow down and show his weakness for a brief moment. Hit or miss, the bosses always go right back into full-on attack mode and you have to repeat the process. It’s all about timing. Some of these battles feel extremely cheap as the boss could nearly one-hit-kill you, while it takes something like 20-30 hits to kill them. I wouldn’t call these battles fun, but they are much better than the monotonous mob fights. There are also a few RTS battles you can play (they are all optional), which are sort of interesting, but become boring really fast.
The Verdict: 6.8 out of 10
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD has a few things going for it that make it a fun experience: a darker story than we’re used to in the franchise, a fast action combat system, a mysterious subplot, and having the title Final Fantasy. However, with its boring and confusing war story, PSP graphics, dizzying camera, and horrible voice acting, it’s hard for me to recommend this game to anyone who isn’t a hardcore Final Fantasy fan. I don’t regret playing it, but I doubt I will ever give it the time of day again. At least we got Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae for buying Type-0 HD early.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.