It may surprise some of you when you realise, that it has now been nine years since Square Enix stood up on that stage at E3 and announced the trifecta that would be known as Fabula Nova Crystallis (FF XIII, FF Versus XIII and FF Agito XIII).
Admittedly with Final Fantasy XIII getting 2 sequels in itself, and now that particular horse is slain thrice over, SE have moved forward with their promise to localise Agito XIII,or Final Fantasy Type-0 outside of Asia and novate it from the handheld to our living rooms.
Upon booting up the game, it is immediately obvious that this is a handheld port for two distinct and opposing reasons.
Along with the release, SE have slapped an HD on the end of the title to confirm its position as a re-textured build of their last gen release, but sadly this is a bit of a deceptive addition.
Not everything in the game received a loving rework. areas of the world and support NPC’s appear grainy and low resolution, with even some of the main NPC cast flickering between the new current gen form and a much lower resolution that would look fine on the original PSP, but appears garish on the current gen of consoles.
The character models for playable characters on the other hand are stunning. Each has been refined and updated for the PS4 release, with sublime animation and features polished to a fine degree, but this only goes to exemplify the problem at hand when seen side by side with the areas and characters that have not been so lovingly reworked.
As part of the New tales of the Crystal stories, that encompasses Final Fantasy XIII; Type-0; and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, the main plot centers around four unique crystals, the civilizations that sprung up around them and the Fal’Cie and L’Cie bound to them.
After a brief background of the four main crystal aspects and their representative states, the story focuses on Class Zero, a group of fourteen students from the Akademia, the magic school located in the Dominion of Rubrum. The Militesi Empire, home of the White Tiger Crystal launches an assault on the other Crystal States of Orience, seeking to take control of each of their protective crystals. Class Zero, who even under the influence of the aggressors magic cancelling technology, were able to maintain their abilities and repel the attack on the capital.
After fending off the attack on Rubrum, they are deployed under the pretext of further aggression from the Militesi, and tasked with restoring outlying captured areas to Rubrum control. This trajectory reveals to them the reason for the Militesi attacks and the very existence of the crystals themselves.
As I alluded earlier, the other reason it is quite obviously a handheld; in specific a psp port is down to the combat. Unlike the other FNC titles, which admittedly did move more to a reaction based, action oriented style of gameplay with its Active Time Battle Paradigm system, type-0 has more directly in common with the distinctly action oriented style we saw in the Final Fantasy VII Spin Off; Crisis Core.
Characters have free movement within battles and abilities are locked down to three options. Attack, Dodge or defence. This allows for a real time combat system that focuses more on timing and exploiting enemy weaknesses than any iteration before it, and it works incredibly well, albeit in spite of a somewhat overactive camera. Class Zero is made up of 12 unique playable characters, each with their own abilities and utilizing the mechanic of swapping between your current three playable characters allows for a lot of flexibility in how you approach each battle.
What is most unique for a final fantasy is the reserve system. Should one of your primary characters fall in battle, they can instantly be replaced by classmates on the reserve list, so managing the order of reserves and variety of your primary team is a key component to successfully winning battles.
With a comprehensive upgrade system and hot-swappable abilities it allows you to form a primary, secondary and even tertiary set of characters that can be used for any eventuality. In between missions, you are given time to discover more of the world, interact with other students and undertake minor quests but once again resource management rears its head. Between each mission you are allocated a specific amount of downtime, and although to begin with you have enough time to complete all of these side activities, the further you progress forces you to decide which actions you wish to utilise your limited time to undertake, and what has to be missed. Do you focus on a particular characters back story, help out your fellow students for material rewards or even, raise and care for your own personal stable of chocobo’s?
Final Fantasy would not be a true Final Fantasy without its audio, and you will be glad to know Type-0 has enough unique, beautiful melodies and genuine ear worms to satisfy any audiophile in the community. I’ve found myself coming away from the game humming tunes I had only heard moments before on more than one occasion. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Voice Acting, which has a distinctly phoned in feel to most of the dialogue; and most of the cast lack the conviction expected for such a convoluted and grandiose plot. Final Fantasy XII has yet to be surpassed in this area.
Overall, Final Fantasy Type-0 is an obvious port, but if you look beyond the partial polish, abysmal Voice Acting, there is a shining gem of an action-RPG which I found absolutely delightful and enjoyable from start to finish and with the simplicity of the combat this is an easy game for those unfamiliar with traditional JPRG’s to pick up and enjoy without feeling to overwhelmed.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PS4 Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 3 weeks on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.