A few days ago, we at SnapThirty were given the chance to visit the office of Bandai Namco Australia and take a look at the upcoming Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. Though not set to launch until March of 2015, we were also able to play a pre-release version of the game and get a feel for the next instalment of the FF franchise.
Without getting too much into spoiler territory, the intro to Type-0 is quite the intense experience. Leaning heavily into the theme of war, the game presents a raw, emotional opening that isn’t all heroism and success. There really isn’t any majesty depicted in the world, with all of the magic and amazing technology being utilised for a violent purpose. As it is focused on a war between two powerful countries, the game does an excellent job of creating a propaganda feel to some cutscenes. Through a film reel grain filter and near emotionless narrator, the explanation of events past comes across with a historical air. This helps to set the mood of Type-0, and add information to the plot in a relevant manner.
Despite the intro being a high impact retrospective into the perils of war, the story that comes after feels a little flat. Though admittedly FF games have a long wind up, there wasn’t an opening moment that made me care about any of the characters. The whole class is just kinda…there. It doesn’t help that gameplay will randomly switch you between them for dialogue sequences, only to have you return when you exit. The game also decides to give save points an in-universe explanation which, whilst fitting into the world, didn’t seem entirely necessary. But I digress. From the two or so hours I played of the game, the roster seems rather underexplained for how many there are. It would’ve at least helped if they had stated their names, or all spoken together at least once. There’s obviously a chemistry to Class Zero, the game just doesn’t show it from the outset.
For the cutscenes present throughout the game, there is a discernible variation in quality. Whilst some scenes appear well polished and well shaded, there are others that are quite obviously up-res versions of the PSP version. This is mainly noticeable in the heads and extremities of the character models, with faces sometimes appearing flat and fingers ranging in degrees of squareness. Again, the game is still a while away from launch, so I’m not entirely sure how much work is still being done on cutscenes. It could become a complete non-issue by the time it hits shelves.
Again diverging from the more recent titles, such as the FFXIII trilogy, Type-0 provides a more fast paced play style that grants a more precise control of the player characters. It’s actually more reminiscent of Crisis Core than anything. Before entering into battle, you are allowed to choose three characters from the fourteen who comprise the main cast, allowing you to alternate between said three throughout a level. Should one of your selected three die however, you are able to immediately replace them with another of the fourteen. Though it’s game over should you manage to lose all members of Class Zero. Each member of this illustrious class possess their own unique fighting style that will factor in to building your trio of advance soldiers. Pistols, scythes, daggers, tarot cards, Class Zero has it all and each certainly have their own strengths and weaknesses. One sword wielder for instance possesses a remarkably slow attack speed, whilst a gun wielder requires distance between themselves and the target. That being said, all characters also have access to magic attacks, allowing them to compensate for range limitations or simply add another method of damage. In addition to their elemental classification, each spell is also divided into sub-categories that depict the manner in which they do damage. For example, some spells fire forward across a substantial distance, granting a much needed ranged attack to the melee classes.
In order to effectively utilise weapons and magic, there is one particular battle tactic you will need to master: lock-on. Without it, combat is substantially more difficult, given that the camera is by far the largest problem with the game. Assumedly a side effect of being ported from a console that possessed one analog stick (the underloved PSP), the camera control of Type-0 is far from ideal. An intense amount of motion blur serves to disorient in the middle of combat, whilst the lock-on creates some counter productive angles and zoom when foes move in close. Owing to a mechanic that allows you to absorb energy from fallen foes, the camera also has a tendency to remain locked-on to those you have already defeated, rather than shifting to the more dangerous, alive ones.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is on its way to being a great game, that being said, there were some noticeable drawbacks. That being said, work is still being done on the title, so I cannot 100% say that these problems will exist when it is officially released. Plus camera control and cutscene visuals seem like two things a company would work on for a while. As for the story, it will definitely take a while to get into the swing of the game and develop a connection to the characters, all fourteen of them. That’s not even counting the military leaders, teachers, students, townsfolk…it’s going to be quite the journey. Though, knowing the state the world of Type-0 is in, it will not be an entirely conflict free one. But with fourteen students of battle ready and waiting, I think we’re in for one heck of a fight.