Monday, 16 June 2014

Otaku Review: Final Fantasy Type 0 (PSP)

Fabula Nova Crystallis has been a series which has split the Final Fantasy fan base down the middle. Some love the direction the series has gone and some old school JRPG fans just hate it. So far in Europe we have been treated to three Final Fantasy XII titles with Final Fantasy XV coming in the future and all of them received very mixed receptions but over in Japan a title unknown by some might just have re-righted all the wrongs and maybe bring the fans back together. I will start with a bold statement which might cause a few argument but Final Fantasy Type 0 is easily one of the best final fantasy games I have played.

Type 0 was originally announced as a mobile only game under the name of Final Fantasy Agito XIII but was later renamed and released on PSP in 2011 in Japan only. The only reason in which I, and many other eager fans, have been able to experience this title is through a fan translation which has taken over a year to achieve. On the back of this release Square Enix announced that they will be remastering Type 0 for Ps4 and Xbox One. The translation took place because Square originally said that a localisation would never happen but it seems that all the attention of the fan translation had made them change their mind.

Type 0 is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis sub series, which includes the Final Fantasy XIII Trilogy and upcoming PS4/Xbox One title, Final Fantasy XV. The story follows Orience, a land that is split into four nations; the Fiefdom of Rubrum, the Milites Empire, the Lorican Alliance, and the Kingdom of Concordia. The nations each have a symbol (a bird, two tigers, a dragon and a tortoise) and each are blessed by a crystal which gives that nation a certain ability; Rubrum has the Suzaku crystal which contains the power of Magic, the Milites Empire has the crystal Byakko whose power is of science and weapons, Lorican has control of the Genbu crystal than contains the power of the knights and finally Concordia controls the Sōryū Crystal which contains the power of Dragons. Each nations has a Peristylium where that nations crystal is researched and protected.

The nations you are involved with is Rubrum and like Final Fantasy XIII there are servants called I’cie, who are given a Focus. As before they have long life and turn into crystals but they cursed to lose their memories over time. It is not only the I;cie who are cursed though. All the people of Orience are cursed to forget those who have died. This is set in place by the Crystals to stop past events holding them back.

But just like any other Final Fantasy, the story takes many twists and turns to keep it a deep, engaging experience; one you will find hard to forget.

The story involves a group of magical students, Class Zero, who are the last set of students to be blessed with magic by the crystal. They are called upon when the Milities Empire declares war on all the other nations of Orience wanting full control of all the crystals. The empire is pushed back but it triggers all other nations into conflict against each other. Rubrum is also caught in the war defending itself and attacking neighbours with the assistance of Class 0 and this is where you come into the story. The creative part of the story is that you are not stuck to only playing as one character. You can choose out if the 14 characters who to play as. You may choose one character to stick with always or mix it up. Mixing it up would be best as each character has their own level to increase and each have a unique weapon set.

As well as unique weapons each characters have skill sets; both ability and magical based. you can hold one weapon at a time, two skills (one which needs MP and the other requires a bar to be filled) and one defence skill.

Like I have said, There are 14 characters in which you can play as and at the start of a mission you choose how many depending on the mission but you can choose anyone. Each character has their own stats which can be upgraded through the leveling system. At the beginning of certain missions some characters have boosts based on moral and if combined they work better together. As you dive deeper into each character you will that there is so much to customise. you can buy new items to increase stats or spend AP to learn some cool new abilities.  Magic can also be upgraded too.  Phantomas are used to carry this out and these are collected from downed enemies.

The gameplay is very much like Crisis Core, where the battles are more engaging with enemies rather than the classic JRPG turn based scenario. The difference to Crisis Core is that there is a great variety of gameplay. Type 0 manages to balance between rpg, action and even a little bit of Real Time Strategy. The game is frantic, in fact, during battle there is very little time to think. Only issue is that it can be a pain to get your items out of the menu as the game does not pause and the menu is full of different features. To overcome this issue is that you can assign one item to the Select button or assign your defense skill to Cure.

The action element of the game is present in the missions. When you enter mission areas, the enemies are already visible on the map and they are already ready for a fight. You can lock onto the enemy using the right trigger and then fire commands by using the face buttons. Holding X will cast recovery spells (just pressing it will make your character dodge), Triangle is your main attack button, with attack spells assigned to square and circle is for your ability. Very simple commands but when you have multiple enemies on screen it becomes very crazy, very quickly.

One move I enjoyed using with Ace, is one where you can stack your attacks up to four times (which are cards) and fired at once. The moves are random so you will have mix of attacks and status effects such as mp or hp restore. It may be random but it gets the job done. This move requires a bar to be filled and drains upon use. To fill it back up you need to attacks enemies this adding a bit if balance to this move set.
Summons are also present in Type 0.  This time they are called Gunshin (God of War) and are equiped like a weapon.  You summon them into battle and take full control of them, but you must sacrific yourself first meaing that you can no longer take part in that battle.

Some enemies gather in groups with one leader - if that leader is killed before anyone else, then the battle is over. Once all enemies (or just the leaders) are dead, then you may move onto the next objective. To add to this frantic gameplay there is the SO system. This is a system of optional quests you can carry out during missions. They range from surviving for a certain amount of time, dispatching guards within a time limit or landing so many shots. Either way, if you fail the mission, you will die! If you do manage to complete the quest you will be rewarded with items.

Mixed in these action sequences are some Real Time Strategy section where you have to take over cities. Even if this isn't your cup of tea, don't worry as the action from the missions is mixed in. You send your troops in you will need to storm the city to help them. This storming is basically what a normal mission is. You go in and clear the city of the opposing force. Once again, simple, but a lot of fun!

The RPG element is present in the setting up of your characters before battle. If you set it up correctly you will be able to enter battle and defeat enemies with ease. You control one character at a time but you can switch between your chosen team at any time. And if you are struggling you can call in backup from your reserve team. This comes in handy when some of your team are being knocked out. I find that it helps to have someone who can cast cure in your team and one as a back up.

In between missions you have a countdown until the next one. Meaning you will have some time to kill and you can do this leveling up on the world map. Leveling up on the world map is not the only way to decrease the timer. You can always lend an ear to citizens, which always ends up with an item. It is during this down time you will realise that the map is huge! Remember there are four nations in this world and you can explore all of them. Random battles occur and If you feel brave you can take on the same enemies again once defeated but this time slight higher level. A lot of fun unless you are fighting bombs. God, I hate them so much.
During the RTS sections you take over smaller cities and you can use these as rest points to heal up.

Finally, you can train your characters up. This is either with others members of the Peristylium where you actually train using your setup or you can take part in secret training. This is a brilliant system where your character trains with other whilst your PSP is asleep. So even when you are finished playing for the day, you can go to sleep knowing that your character is hard at work. This is by far the best feature in the game and I will be surprised if it is not used in future titles.

Square have always been know for their excellent graphics and type 0 is no exception. The cutscenes look beautiful on the handhelds scene. The models used in battle look a little rough around the edges now but this is noticeable due to the advancements the Vita has made in handheld gaming. The open world suffers from due to the limitations of the technology as it is so vast that it has to load in between sections but to be honest it does not affect the flow of the gameplay.

The major let down of Tpye 0 is that it is on the PSP. It is a huge game and is full of features which has pushed the PSP to its limit. It is at it's limit technical wise and also hindered by the controls. It is hard to imagine that this was originally suppose to be released on mobile devices and it is great news that it is being re-released on PS4 and Xbox One.

Type 0, like any other Final Fantasy game, requires a lot of your time. You are looking at least 50 hours to complete the main story but it all depends on how much you grind your levels. Also, be prepared to grind with this one as it can get hard rather quickly. The recommended level for each mission is a nice guideline but I would recommend to be a few levels higher. This one is for someone after a hardcore action rpg with lots to do and a very deep story.

On the whole, Type 0 is a fantastic game. It is packed with a rich story, interesting characters and brilliant gameplay. There is something for everyone here and is easily one of the best titles in the Fabula Nova Crystallis. Saying that though, the controls can make it an awkward experience and if you can wait for the re-release, then I would recommend that as this new wave of consoles should be able to cope with what the game has to offer. If not, well fire up your PSP, acquire a translated copy and be prepared for an epic adventure.

Oh, I almost forgot - you can breed Chocobos too!  What more do you want?



    Look it up if you were ever intending to play Final Fantasy type O on your vita =3

  2. Square has made a huge mistake by not releasing this on the Vita when it comes to PS4. You could always remote play it

  3. I sadly can't agree with it being fantastic. All of the characters are bland (which robs the game of the emotional potential that it had), that applies to the protagonists and the antagonists, and the story goes completely off the rails in the final chapter. It just feels like they had no time or money to actually build up to the endgame, which might explain why the final war mission is just a single battle.
    I hope they fix the gameplay flaws, like the nonsensensical grind-wall for most extra-content, in the HD version, but I doubt they'll fix the story.