NYCC 2014 Hands-On: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

We go hands on with the updated version of Type-0.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

I played Final Fantasy Type-0 HD earlier this week.

Square Enix held a media-only Comic-Con event in New York, where I got to go hands-on with the game for the first time. And it’s not your traditional Final Fantasy, as I’m sure readers following the game already know. It’s faster, more violent, and more mature in comparison.

A little background: unlike previous Final Fantasy titles, which generally feature a single protagonist, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD has 14 protagonists. The story revolves around a war between nations, and the 14 students of “Class Zero” make up the game’s heroes. Being of an elite military academy, these students are sent into war to uncover the secrets of its origin and to subdue the enemy.

As one might tell by its title, this is the high-definition version of Final Fantasy Type-0, which was first announced as Final Fantasy Agito XIII for mobile phones in 2006. In January 2011, its name was changed to Final Fantasy Type-0 and development was moved to PSP. Later that year, the game finally launched in Japan. But the PSP release never made its way outside the country. There was a time where it was planned, but given the dying PSP market in the west, those plans were ultimately put to rest.

But now, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation in its infancy, Square Enix has the opportunity to bring the game to western audiences on a bigger screen. And luckily, it’s not your standard high-definition remaster. The game looks great, as if it were completely remade for new consoles, albeit with a few lower-resolution textures here and there (character faces don’t always look so hot).

It’s very fast-paced and action-based. Battles aren’t turn-based like previous Final Fantasy titles. And enemy encounters are on the map, rather than in a separate battle screen. Players can move around freely and attacks are mapped to the face buttons. Square is your standard attack, while the remaining three face buttons are special attacks like Thunder, Blizzard, or Ensnare. You can also perform directional dodges using the X button and analog stick.

Players will assemble a party of three characters from the class of 14 and switch between them on the fly during battle using the d-pad. My party consisted of Seven, Rem, and Ace. The demo had me running about an industrial area, which was swarmed with robot enemies. For these encounters, Rem was my best choice, as she had access to Thunder magic, which machine-based enemies are weak against. During another point, I found myself up against enemy soldiers on the ground, while rooftop snipers were firing away. As not to waste Magic Points, I found it best to switch to Ace. His standard attack uses a deck of cards, which can be flung at the snipers from the ground. Ace also has the handy ability to erect a wall for defense when dealing his long-range attacks.

During battle, you’ll sometimes see a yellow marker or red marker appear on the enemy. When a yellow marker appears, if you attack the enemy then and there, it can deal critical damage, sometimes paralyzing them. When a red marker appears, again if you attack then and there, it will kill the enemy in a single hit.

Sometimes you’ll come across an enemy group with a leader among them. The leader is marked with a special symbol next to its name and health bar. In these situations, you can opt to take out the leader first, which will cause the rest of the group will surrender. After that, you can talk to the surrendered enemies to obtain rations. Of course, you can also choose not to take this route and instead take the kills for more experience points.

During my playthrough, I encountered a number of enemies ranging from mecha to animals to soldiers to flying ships, walls, and golems. And to defeat these enemies, knowing when to use which party member is crucial. You also have the option to summon a monster like Ifrit, which would K.O. the player character, but I unfortunately forgot to test this out during my playthrough (sorry!).

I enjoyed what I played of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, but if there was anything that bothered me, it was the camera. Its auto lock-on feature is kind of wonky, and I found myself dying most of the time as a result of the camera backing into the screen, allowing enemies to sneak in cheap hits. The free movement the right analog stick offers also feels rather blocky compared to the more fluid movement one would expect. Hopefully this is something that’s fixed by the time the game is launched.

Also, because I heard some people talking about this (it’s not a bother, but I feel obliged to mention it), areas are not seamlessly connected. They’re instead tied together by short, three- or four-second load screens. And in addition to the mission-based areas featured in the demo, I was told there will be an overworld with towns and such to visit, as well. (I’m sure those who’ve played or seen the PSP game already know this.)

If you’ve yet to watch it, you can see a walkthrough of the demo I played here.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is due out for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 17 in North America and March 19 in Europe.

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