Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

finalfantasytype0cast

And this isn’t even the entire character roster!

Four months and forty hours later, I’ve finally completed a playthrough of FF Type-0! You know, the out-dated PSP game remastered for the PS4 retailers charged full price for? Ok, ok, it’s the promotional material for the playable FFXV demo that retailers charged us full price for. I’ve finished it and am ready to give my final impressions on it. (Wow, actually looking at how long it took me to play shows that I only played, on average, 10 hours a month of this game. Now I think I’m too depressed to finish this review.)

Just kidding.

While I’ve played this game start to finish, I can safely say I’ve really only witnessed a small percent of the actual content in Type-0. And it’s not even because I rushed through the content to get to the end. It’s actually because a good chunk of the scenes, story, and content are blocked until subsequent playthroughs. Yeah. In an RPG, PLOT POINTS aren’t revealed until after you’ve invested 30-40 hours of your life. I  mean, this isn’t a 10-hour action game that no one plays for the story,  this is a ROLE PLAYING GAME. Last I checked, the story and character development were kinda, like, essential. I was wrongfully under the impression that a lot of backstory and information was hidden in data logs due to the hardware restrictions of the PSP. This is partially true, but when I later read there are additional scenes in subsequent playthroughs that further detail what the hell is going on, I was beyond annoyed.

And about character development. In case you couldn’t tell from the above image, this game has a huge cast. Which is great when it comes to adding variety to the infinite grinding you can easily do in this game. But not so great if you’re looking for well-fleshed out characters. As a JRPG, they stuck with what JRPGs do best and recycled warn out caricatures. You’ve got a couple ditzy girls who talk like they’re 5 years old, a dumb oaf who says “yo” all the time, an insufferable know it all girl wearing glasses (one of my personal favorites), optimistic blow hard who holds the group together, a sickly girl accompanied by her friend-zoned childhood man crush who lives to keep her safe from harm, and so on. So unless a character plays an essential part in moving the bare-bones story development along, don’t expect to hear anything from them besides interjecting a predictable one-liner once every few cut-scenes.

We can blame the oversized cast on the setting for Type-0. The player controls all of Class Zero, which is basically a classroom of super soldiers who have an exceptional, and grizzly ability: they can suck the “Phantoma” from humans and other creatures. (Phantoma= soul, or life essence, if you will). As far as game mechanics go, Phantoma primarily serve as components to upgrade magic spells, which I liked well enough. It isn’t often that RPGs let you upgrade magic spells. But, for the life of me, I could never wrap my head around farming certain Phantoma. You see, there’s dozens of different types of the damn things, named after every shade of every color you could think of. Cyan, Ivory, Magenta, Cerulean, Chocobo Feather, Poop Stain, etc. I was under the impression that defeating an enemy with certain elements or abilities made them drop certain types, but then it looked like monsters would drop certain kinds, not based on how they were defeated. Long story short, I still have no idea and couldn’t be bothered to do research on it.

Just as Capcom arbitrarily decided Resident Evil fans no longer enjoyed tank controls, Square-Enix decided Final Fantasy fans suddenly stopped liking turn-based battles. Type-0 features my absolute favorite type of battle system: Controlling only one character at a time while completely relying on the AI to read your mind because there is absolutely no system in place to prioritize commands! I found myself annoyingly swapping to the mage or ranged attacker (You will ALWAYS want a ranged attacker in your party because the game likes to throw enemies at you that can’t be hit at melee range) just to get them to do something when my melee character was helpless against a flying birdie or mech. I think if I play this game again I’ll just control Ace or King ALL THE TIME to save myself the embarrassment of forgetting to bring a ranged person along.

Because if you’re careless enough to forget to bring a ranged person along (Or, gods forbid, don’t LIKE the playstyle) then you’re SOL. Type-0 does not allow for running from battle or swapping characters in your roster during battle. I will NEVER understand why swapping people out during fights didn’t become a staple after it’s amazing debut in Final Fantasy X. You’re forced to wait until a character is knocked out to replace them, and that’s only the people you brought along as back-ups. This is a non-issue while you’re wandering the world map or on a mission that allows you to bring the entire class. But some missions only allow a certain number of people, so if you screwed up you have to abandon the mission and start over.

There are many other developmental decisions with Type-0 that just left me scratching my head.

Like summons, for example.

finalfantasytype0shiva

That’s not a cheerleader, that’s Shiva.

Instead of being able to call a summon whenever you want, or have a certain amount of casts, Type-0 is much more restrictive. Summons can only be called during story missions after you’ve filled a stupid bar, thereby sacrificing the unfortunate student who called it. In Shiva’s case, she then takes the place of the character and starts skating around like an ice skater in the Special Olympics. It is almost as annoying as Shiva being a motorcycle in Final Fantasy XIII. In all honesty, I was so limited on summon use I forgot to take advantage when I was allowed, and didn’t get them leveled. Defeating enemies grants Class Zero and summons AP to level abilities, but it’s all done on an individual basis.

I can’t stress this enough. Because I’m not entirely sure how I was supposed to level up a summon when I was only allowed to call it a handful of times during the game. I guess I COULD have replayed the story missions from the main menu, but no thanks, they were boring enough the first time around.

I really, really hated how non-participating characters did not receive at least partial experience. In a game that gives you 14 playable characters, there really should have been more varied (and obvious) ways to gain levels. You can only have 3 people at a time, and can’t actively swap members if someone dies, AND, this is the kicker, the game wants you to swap them out during story missions (therefore losing out on precious EXP) for more AI named after the cast who developed the game. It’s called “SPP Support” and its the only way to unlock and purchase rare equipment in the game.

Really? So because the poor Battle Designer feels unappreciated, I have to sit through Professor Moogle spouting, “Here’s so-and-so from the s-and-so department” fifty times per mission. I mean, why would I want to use the 14 OTHER characters I assigned to be in my party for the mission so they could level up? So I could actually play them and learn their fighting style? So I could maybe remember what friggin’ abilities I equipped to who and what they even do?!

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Airship battles! Now there’s something new and innovative!

Another big gripe worth mentioning is the handling of side quests. Between missions, Class Zero is given free time to wander around and do whatever: Visit the Chocobo Ranch, pick up quests from teachers, other students at Akademia, or NPCs in cities spread across the World Map, or waste valuable time hearing the latest gossip for a throwaway item you’ll never use. I was partial to listening in on Mog’s lectures. Each lecture doles out permanent stat boosts! If you think wandering the world map, hopping from town to town and collecting quests is more your thing, beware: You can only accept one “Task” at a time!

That’s right! Who the hell needs quest logs? What’s the benefit of carrying multiple quests in your inventory to do when you see fit? Who needs quest indicators either? Those pesky symbols on the map get in the way of the beautiful scenery, after all. Ugh.

Do you think, when only playing this game on average one day a week, I had any hope of remembering where I saw an NPC that had the quest I wanted to do next? No way. Nor did I remember where the cities were, because those aren’t labeled on the world map either! At least old school games had dots on the World Map for reference. Then at least by process of elimination you could find a specific location. I thought my navigational issues would be resolved once I uncovered Setzer’s Airship (Yep, that Setzer). They weren’t. Because Type-0 is structured in a way that doesn’t give the player much of a sense of progression. In Final Fantasy games of yore, adventurers traveled outward from a starting point, visiting memorable locations and spreading across the map most of the time. Type-0, however, is all over the damn place, plopping you in random city after random city to fight waves of enemies until the mission is done and you’re thrown back to the academy to kill time until your next mission.

I feel like a lot of the wanderlust and enjoyment of RPGs is stripped when exploring and adventuring to stumble upon the next NPC you’re supposed to talk to to advance the plot, or trudging halfway through a cave you passed in your travels before wondering, “Is this where I’m supposed to be?” is replaced with, “Talk to your Commanding Officer when you’re ready to advance the plot.” Or, even better, “Talk to your Commanding Officer when you’ve exhausted all your free time and the game won’t allow you to leave Akademia.” No, the time restriction isn’t as awful as in Lightning Returns, but it shouldn’t exist. Period.

My frustrations are coming across so strongly because I felt like this game had great potential, but fell short because of multiple mind boggling decisions that I can’t believe anyone who has ever played an RPG in their life thought would be good ideas! And on top of ruining a decent battle system with a lot of stupidity, the story didn’t come close to scratching the surface. It began with more blood, violence and sobriety than probably any other Final Fantasy game. Then… didn’t really bother to develop on the potential at all.

In this world, once a person dies, the living forget them. This means that, certain circumstances aside, soldiers really ARE war fodder. The young get sent to die, and their families and peers will have no recollections of them unless they picked up their “Knowing Tag” which gives information, but doesn’t restore memories. Depressing, right? Imagine all the directions they could have gone with that! Instead, the whole concept sort of devolved into an abused scapegoat by the writers. More than once I heard someone say, “I can still remember them, so they must be alive!” Eye roll.

So much for even pretending to let the player wonder for a little while.

But don’t worry! Type-0 makes up for its general suckishness with overwhelming Final Fantasy nostalgia tugging at your heartstrings! There’s chocobo breeding! Moogles! An actual world map! Setzer’s Airship! And all the Final Fantasy monsters we love to hate!

finalfantasytype0malboro

Like this asshat Malboro.

When I first starting playing, I honestly liked this game more than I thought I would. Yet as the hours dragged on and I realized the game was intentionally holding me back to squeeze more gameplay hours and needless playthroughs out of me, I gave it far less leeway. I can’t grind for the sake of grinding nowadays, and I refuse to grind for the sake of a poorly written and executed game… Even if I will never get to fight eight-armed Gilgamesh.

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