Finally after all these years Final Fantasy Type 0 is here.
In December 2009 Japan was greeted with the first game in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, Final Fantasy XIII.
While not quite what was promised, which was essentially a game where the characters would reach out of your television and shake your hand every time you completed a mission, Final Fantasy XIII completely changed everything we understood to be true about Final Fantasy games. Since then the Fabula Nova Crystallis has grown to contain FFXIII and it’s two sequels, Final Fantasy XV, originally known as Versus XIII, Final Fantasy Agito, soon to be Westernised, and a Japan only PSP game called Final Fantasy Type-0 which has now been flown over to us on the back of a real life Squeenix in HD for Xbox One and PS4.
“A PSP game? On our current gen consoles?” I can’t hear you ask. Yes exactly, and you may be surprised to hear that not only is there more content, but also less. It has dropped the multiplayer mode and added an easier mode due to the amount of people who never completed the PSP version even in Japan, home of most of the world’s video game virtuosos. Essentially though it is clear that it is one of the few reasons to have owned a Japanese PSP and to have learned Japanese.
Final Fantasy Type - 0 HD is, despite being primarily just a shiny sleek version of a PSP game, more faithful to what it means to be a Final Fantasy game than I have experienced in almost a decade since FFXII was released. Yes there are world maps and there is proper EXP distribution and a battle system I don’t think I will ever fully understand, some coloured stuff to collect that upgrades your characters magic, random encounters on the battle field, the return of grinding and Chocobo Breeding.
The game feels like I’m playing a History Channel documentary as after every mission it gives me a slide show of lovely artwork and a soothing informative voice will tell me how my actions have helped or accidentally encumbered the Dominion of Rubrum. It focuses on Class Zero, to those of you who were upset about playing as a single character in Lightning Returns, you are going to love playing as fourteen school children. Like a mixture between Battle Royale and the child soldier atrocities in Uganda, you are in charge of taking these children to war to battle against the invasion of your homeland the Dominion of Rubrum. The university you attend is the Vermillion Peristylium, and though it sounds like something you may go to the doctor to get removed, it gave me beautiful flashbacks of what it felt like playing FFVIII for the first time. The big bad in type-0 is the Militesi Empire who have designs on the Crystal States of Orience. Crystals are almost always something to do with Eidolons (elemental apocalypses with claws or scanty clothing) and this is no different, a pure driven love of power has put the country at risk and Class - 0 has to do something about it. Which for me includes running around in circles for hours on end looking for random encounters with monsters while trying to read a book in my other hand.
Having only had the game for two days at this point I have only managed to accumulate fifteen hours of gameplay which fans will understand is, in other game terms, similar to having never taken the cellophane off the box. In this time I have come across three styles of game play. A battle system similar to that of Crisis Core : Final Fantasy VII where you run freely, dodge out of the way and cast spells from a distance while heading towards a common goal in a city. There are also in game challenges called SOs where the game basically bets me my life that I can do something difficult in less than thirty seconds in exchange for a sandwich. There is a similar battle style that takes place in the open world but this is primarily for grinding your characters to a higher level, you play as three school children at a time and can rotate your choices from save crystals to help level all fourteen of them up. The final more interesting tactics based game where you send entire armies to face off with approaching enemies so you can then invade cities and recapture them, each of which could be a game by itself.
Each day has a mission at the end of it, and I am given a certain amount of time that sits in the bottom right hand corner. This doesn’t decrease in real time as much as it is a currency for daily tasks. If I want to go out into the world map that costs 6 hours, if I want to hear some guy moaning about a girl he is in love with in exchange for an Elixir that’s two hours, one of Moglin’s lectures? That’s another two hours. It’s a great way to divide up your real life time efficiently and also means you can go into each mission slightly better off than the last one.
On the downside the lack of a drop-in Co-op seems almost insane as the game features that exact dynamic but with NPC bots brought in as temporary assistants. Though I suppose the bits where I am wandering around in the depths of a dangerous cave on my own trying to find a pelt for some lazy teenager, might be tedious for my co-op mate. The battles can be a bit repetitive but less than you’d think with all the choice that there is, and that’s why they call it a grind. It does sometimes still feel like a PSP game, the loading screens every time you walk the length of yourself are not necessary on a PS4, when you can run for hundreds of miles in Elder Scrolls, or Dying Light, I don’t see why you can’t move from this green bit to that green bit without having to wait for an, albeit short, loading time to allow you to pass. Sometimes you can check the SO challenge and it says ‘kill everyone on the screen without touching your controller’ and I hit ‘Decline’, it then proceeds to send me this same message over and over until I give in and inevitably die or ignore them. It would be nice to be able to preview them without having to decide either way, as they quickly become Spam.
Over all the game is a breath of old air and I am just loving the inevitable unemployment it will lead to for me as I have to spend more and more time pushing friends away, cancelling plans and forgetting to sleep so I can complete it. Yeah there are niggly problems with it, but the battle systems are flawless. There is definitely something missing but it is fantastic and worth getting as soon as you can, not to mention the FFXV demo you get for pre-ordering it, which is a different story altogether.
Fans of classic Final Fantasy will love it, fans of hating Final Fantasy will hate it.