Some things just can’t be stopped: death, taxes and the endless production of more Final Fantasy games. Some are hits, some are stinkers, everyone’s got their own opinion and every last one of those opinions are wrong because they aren’t mine. Sorry, guys. Had to say it. The most recent entry is Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, a remake of a PSP title from 2011 that didn’t quite make it to the West, so let’s take a look at tha tone.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD stars Class Zero, a group of cadets from the military training school Akademeia who fight to defend the Dominion of Rubrum against an evil encroaching empire. While the Academy boasts plenty of other classes of cadets, Class Zero’s unique magical powers and advanced training put them in, well, their own class. The title features several callbacks to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, like the crystal servants known as l’Cie, though as far as I can tell it doesn’t directly connect to that series.
The highlight of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is the game’s combat system, which feels pretty similar to Kingdom Hearts. There’s no turn-taking here; instead, everything happens in real time at a pretty fast clip. You control one member of Class Zero at a time with two AI supports backing you up; your battle options include basic attacks, a variety of special techniques depending on your character and a set of upgradable magic spells. Learning how your foes move and attacks is important, particularly since it’s possible to land critical or even fatal attacks with precise timing.
The many members of Class Zero offer a nice variety of playstyles and allow you to choose some favorites that suit your needs. I say that, but what I actually mean is that there’s a ton of playable characters and it’s going to take you awhile to pick your favorites. You’ll stare at the character select screen, paralyzed by indecision, as somewhere a Japanese businessman swims in a pool full of money and laughs at your agony. Er, yeah.
You’ve got representatives from all the JRPG standbys: your close-combat monsters like Eight, Nine and Jack, your rangers like Ace and Trey and your mages like Deuce and Rem. Each character has their own little quirks as well; the game’s face man, Ace, is primarily a ranged attacker thanks to his magic playing cards, but he can also support the team or use magic attacks by drawing new abilities at random. One personal favorite was Eight, a martial artist who can vary his close-combat strikes with different stances that allow for ultra-fast combo attacks, rushing strikes or even Ki blasts.
The variety of playable characters can be a little overwhelming, actually, especially since the entire cast is handed to you at once almost immediately. Square was merciful, though, and you’re generally not forced to use anyone you don’t want to use. Since defeated characters are replaced by comrades from the reserves, you’re still going to want to get in some practice with everyone in case your favorite bites it halfway through a mission.
As for the plot, the game’s focus on politics and military maneuvers make this feel a bit more like a Suikoden than a Final Fantasy. That’s a bit of an acquired taste, so if you’re expecting the sort of intimate character-driven narrative you’d see in one of the main series games, well, you might be in for a rude awakening. The odd complaints here and there about the proceedings being a little difficult to follow feel a little overstated, though, and the game provides plenty (seriously, we’re talking loads) of supplemental reading if you’re a lore buff.
The presentation is generally an upgrade over the PSP version of Final Fantasy Type-0 One odd choice on Square’s part was the use of copious amounts of motion blur. Spinning the camera from a stationary position can be almost sickening as the world swirls together; on the bright side, this does make the combat look fantastic – Eight in particular benefits from the blur effects on all his martial arts moves. The voice acting is largely decent, though one or two members of Class Zero are a bit amateurish and Ace himself – who gets more screen time than most – doesn’t sound fully invested in affairs.
Still, it’s a well-executed game as we’ve come to expect from the series. I doubt Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is going to become anyone’s favorite out of the…what are up to, twenty of these games now? Yeah, it’s probably not the best one. But it’s certainly one of the better ones. Oh, and it comes with a voucher for the Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae demo. Which is cool. You probably want that.