Final Fantasy Type-0 has been a long time coming. It was originally called Final Fantasy Agito XIII as part as the Fabula Nova Crystallis series announced in 2006. The game eventually made it out in Japan as Final Fantasy Type-0 on the PSP in 2011. Four years later the west is finally getting a taste. So let’s get to it.
Stop if you’ve heard this one before. There are four nations protecting crystals. One of them has grown weary of peace, decided to attack, and now a band of misfit rogues are destined to stand up to the monolithic empire. Okay, so maybe the premise is cliché in a Final Fantasy sense. Type-0 is like an amalgamation of story elements taken from FF VIII, FF Tactics, and maybe even a little bit from Kingdom Hearts.
To get serious, the game stars Class Zero, the top-secret unit in Rubrum’s Akademeia military academy, who has been chosen to fight back against the invading Militesi Empire. The crew encompasses Ace and his fellow Zeros, teachers, and other alumni. The cut-scene direction is more than a little unusual, but the dark themes and strong bonds between characters makes up for it. It may be a diverse cast, but not everyone gets their time in the limelight.
Fortunately the same isn’t true for combat, which is really where the Kingdom Hearts inspirations come in. Well, to be frank, more like the FF VII spinoff, Crisis Core, as this director, Tabata, also helmed. Players can take three classmates on missions, swapping between them on the fly. Magic and abilities can be mapped to the four face buttons and special commands, such as using items, requires the D-Pad. Locking on to an enemy can result in critical hits as well and attacks can be blocked, or evaded, making everything feel fluid in the heat of battle.
Each squad member specializes in a single weapon type, with varying statistics. For example, Ace uses cards and is great at a distance. Sice has a scythe and is a little slow, but deals heavy damage. Deuce wields a flute and does low damage, but specializes in party buffs. Leveling up is easy except for the fact that characters only earn experience while in battle. In order to change party members, players have to find a save crystal. It, like the grinding itself, can become monotonous especially while trying to maintain so many party members. Even on the world map, they can’t be swapped nor can the game be saved. In general traveling, despite the use of Chocobos and air transportation, is a big flaw that slows down momentum.
There are also a handful of RTS-like missions that are fairly simple and fun distractions. Players assist combat units by issuing commands to troops as well as participate in the charge. The goal is to capture objective points, like cities, or to destroy armaments all to take over a certain command point. There are a few other mission types and mini games thrown in as well like breeding Chocobos and participating in an arena that, for the most, are nice distractions.
Characters level up in a few different ways. There’s the obvious status boosts when it comes to killing monsters and completing quests. This also earns AP, which can be spent to both buy new abilities as well as enhance them. For example, the dodge ability can be increased in effectiveness. The other aspect comes in with magic. A Spell’s power, MP cost, and cast time can be upgraded with the help of materials gained from encounters. Unfortunately the menu systems are needlessly complex in order to do so.
In-between missions players can run around campus to take on quests, level up gear, or to just chill and catch up on the team. There’s a timer in the bottom corner of the screen, counting down to the next main mission. Once it hits zero, side quests can no longer be completed until the main mission is done. Sometimes there isn’t enough to do so skipping ahead is a thankful feature. And to those curious, missions can be replayed in order to get a better score for greater rewards.
Graphically it’s better than its PSP counterpart. Environments look the best along with the main cast, but the models for NPCs are a little jagged. While the voice work and music is commendable, the lip-syncing is some of the worst his writer has seen in some time. Maybe it was just too hard to fix in the transfer. Overall it accumulates into a weird juxtaposition that is livable, but distracting. And at the end of the day it feels weird to complain about since most people will be happy there was even a localization of any kind.
Final Fantasy Type-0 was worth the wait. At its core it still feels like it should be on a portable device, making the PS Vita seem like the more the obvious choice. That said it’s an excellent action game with a uniquely engrossing story. Type-0 is a great game with a mile long list of accomplishments with an unfortunately equal length of shortcomings. Fans will love it, but it’s not necessarily the return to what was once the greatest RPG series of all time.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review code for the game. This article was originally published on March 16, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. It was also Examiner’s official review for the game. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.