Final Fantasy Type-0 first released on the PSP back in 2011 – but only in Japan. Despite numerous social media campaigns, petitions, forum threads with thousands of posts, and various other attempts to convince Square Enix to bring the game to the West, it seemed that the demise of the PSP platform itself was likely to prevent the game ever leaving the land of its birth.
Eventually, Square Enix decided that the game was worth bringing to a new audience, but chose to release it on the PlayStation 4 for some reason. Given the vast difference in capability between the PSP and the PS4, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the title brings with it some technical baggage – but more on that in a moment.
To start with, if you’re reading this and are a hardcore Final Fantasy fan, there’s a lot about Type-0 HD to love. It’s got an overworld map, random battles, and a high-profile character called Cid. There’s Chocobos, Moogles, and even L’cie from the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology which Final Fantasy XIII is also part of.
Numerous other standbys help ground the player in Final Fantasy right from the get-go. So if you do consider yourself among that hardcore group, don’t bother reading the rest of this review; that’s all you need to know. Go knock yourself out!
Still here? Right. Final Fantasy Type-0 is not very good.
Firstly, it looks a bit underwhelming. It’s like a Facebook profile pic, taken in very flattering light, with 19 soft focus filters applied over the top. The only thing “HD” about the game is its name. It’s false advertising at its best, with the most absurdly limited “improvements” yet seen in the recent run of HD game treatments. Only the main characters have received any real effort, and even then, only in certain areas of the game – a point hammered home every time they interact with a non-main character in a cutscene.
Environments, too, are poor. Their textures look to have had no work done to them whatsoever, and they are boxy and boring. To make matters worse, you still have to pause for a loading screen every few seconds thanks to the PSP’s limited memory, even though the PS4 has more than 250 times the RAM of that handheld.
The animation is horrible. Characters gesticulate like caricatures of low-budget TV shows, then settle into short, jarring loops of base movement, preventing any level of immersion with their bizarre, unrealistic motion.
None of this, however, is as bad as the dire voice acting – almost certainly testament to the resignation and depression which will have undoubtedly set in with the voice actors after they read the horrible script. The lines are laughably nonsensical, and delivered with all of the enthusiasm of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
All of this would be at least partly forgivable if it was backed up by semi-decent gameplay. Typically, it’s rote, dull, and best summed up as the worst bits of action-adventure and RPG combined.
You play in real time, controlling one of three active characters – drawn from a team of up to 14 – each of whom have different weapons and skills. This part of things is about the only place where things are interesting, and it’s an idea that has a lot of potential. The characters all feel quite different to each other, too, which is arguably the one real success of the game .
Enemies tend to home in on you in that classic early-2000s style of gaming AI, and you can dodge around while waiting for your attacks to cooldown so you can land the killer blow. It’s not as much fun as a “real” action game and it lacks the strategic depth of an RPG, but it’s not awful.
What is awful is your AI counterpart’s intelligence. They frequently just stand there, getting a beat down from a boss attack or what have you, reaffirming that this whole thing is on your shoulders to sort out.
It’s hard to spot how stupid your teammates are initially thanks to the terrible camera controls. Not only does the right stick spin the camera around at light speed, the developers have seen fit to use that action to trigger the most god-awful and hyper-blurry full-screen visual effect ever seen in the history of videogames. Should you ever try to look around the environment, you should first ensure you’re dosed all the way up with anti-nausea medication.
There’s some 25-30 hours of gameplay to trudge through before it all ends. You can’t see it all on your first play through, and some gems are held back for your second or third complete run through the game, apparently – something I’m unlikely to ever find out for myself.
Ultimately, I think Square Enix were right not to translate this game first time around. As a bonus with your copy of the FFXV demo, it’s not a terrible deal, but it’s definitely not something you should actually pay real money for, unless you’re one of those hardcore FF fans.