Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD attempts to bring a bit more “grounding” to the typical Final Fantasy story, inspired by historical wars and battles. The game focuses on a group of students who form an alliance known as “Class Zero”. They hail from Vermillion Peristylium, a magical academy situated within the Dominion of Rubrum. When the Militesi Empire launches an assault on the neighbouring states to control crystals, Class Zero is called into action, becoming entangled in the war.
Presumably as a result of the game’s design, the storytelling in Type-0 HD is incredibly disjointed and expects far too much from the player for what will essentially amount to a throwaway world and universe. From the moment you load the game, it barrages you with all kinds of names and cities and factions that you have to remember in order to comprehend what’s going on in the story. Except that the story is so disjointed that it’s nearly impossible to keep up without constantly revising.
Similarly, the game expects players to just care about things because the game is almost implying that they should. It’s just poorly thought out and incredibly half baked. Expecting people to care about a certain aspect of the story without any prior build-up or emotional development quite frankly results in some incredibly flat moments in the game’s story.
In short – it’s possible to superficially comprehend what’s going on in Type-0 HD if you boil it down to its simplest components – that all kinds of factions are warring over crystals. But it’s just unfortunate that Square Enix expects you to care about all the background noise they’ve thrown over the top of it. To make matters worse, you’ll have to play through the game twice to completely understand the ending.
For those who might not know, Type-0 HD started off as a PSP game released all the way back in the year 2011. Previously unreleased in Japan, Hexadrive have ported the game to the new generation of consoles for Square Enix. Unfortunately, as you’d probably expect, it’s still pretty obvious that the game used to be a PSP title.
Some aspects of the remaster are well developed – the menus and the user interface look incredibly sharp and slick, but heaps of the textures look ugly or muddy. If I had to provide a forced metaphor – it’d be like putting make-up on an old dog. You can pretty it up as much as you want, but underneath it’s still obvious what it used to be.
But it’s obvious that the development team have spent more time on some aspects of the game, at least in terms of visuals, than others. The models for the fourteen or so members of Class Zero have been given a completely fresh look, whereas the rest of the game has been rather lazily upscaled.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the new models for Class Zero show how lacklustre it is since they’re appearing in the same scenes as these NPCs who’ve not been privy to the same treatment. It’s just wildly inconsistent.
While the story and the presentation might be slightly lacklustre, the combat and gameplay in Type 0 HD more than make up for it, at least to a certain extent. The game is structured like a typical role playing game with a few chapters that must be completed to advance the plot, with more quests and content to be discovered between them. As per usual with games of this genre, the opening chapters serve as long and drawn out tutorials introducing players to the game mechanics.
The crux of Type 0 HD involves setting out on missions in a party of three and battling your enemies. The battle system in the game is very fast paced and much more action orientated than the turn based offerings of previous games. This gives the game an arguably more modern feel – and is particularly interesting because it means that if you’ve got the skills it’s totally possible to take down an enemy above your rank. All it takes is careful strategy and finesse in your combat skills. That is when you’re not wrestling with the poorly optimised camera.
The combat itself is real time, and you’ll move around executing a variety of standard attacks as well as casting certain spells and abilities. The evasion moves are easily the most enjoyable aspect to the combat as they make the combat feel a lot more action packed and more importantly, make you feel cool. During combat, there’ll be random “goals” known as special orders that’ll appear that will grant the users a buff but require them to complete a small goal or face death. It’s a simple system that ups the ante and makes some battles tenser, but can be toggled off if that’s not your thing.
Similar to games like Kingdom Hearts, you’ll only control the party leader you’ve chosen to take into battle although they can be switched out. Each member of the troupe has their own specific abilities that work better in certain situations. The game itself doesn’t necessarily recommend you use specific characters so it’s more up to the player to work out what works better for them, but I’d predict most players would gravitate towards certain characters than others. Each has their own individual abilities to learn and level up too, although you’ll never have to spend too much time micro-managing your group.
The missions themselves are designed rather linearly and the objectives never feel like puzzles or anything too mentally gruelling – but rather they make you retrieve something, destroy something or both. The game sometimes gives you open areas to explore – usually requiring you to backtrack to an area to find an item to open up the next area – but the mission variety never really gets too interesting beyond that. There are some strategy based missions that change the pace of the game considerably but we’d wager they only make up a small amount of the game overall.
What does make things a little bit interesting is how the game handles time when you’re not out on a mission in the field. Much like school, between missions you’ll have a set amount of time to complete any side missions want to do. Each activity, whether it be chocobo breeding or bonding with your team mates, takes up a certain amount of time. This means you’ll have to effectively prioritise your goals in the game and use your time wisely to carry them out. Players who want to rush through the game can just skip ahead if they really want to.
There is one minor issue that should be brought up when it comes to Type-0 HD, and that is what was lost in translation from PSP to the new generation of consoles – and that’s the multiplayer mode. In the original version of the game, players could summon friends into missions to play alongside them. Instead, in the HD version, NPCs named after the development team are summoned instead. I understand it might’ve been outside of the scope of the project and its budget to include functionality but it might’ve given the package a bit more replayability.
Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD has all the makings of a great Final Fantasy game – namely a lack of fear to let go of everything previously established in other Final Fantasy games and offer a unique experience. The combat system is fun and fast paced, while still having the essential DNA in place that makes it a Final Fantasy game.
But everything else is just so haphazardly put together. The visual upgrades are wildly inconsistent and variable between the playable characters and everyone else. The story is not only poorly written and disjointed but expects you to care about it with minimal development. The result is a weird mix of half-baked and incredibly polished components that only the most dedicated of Final Fantasy fans could enjoy.