Fi­nal Fan­tasy Type-0 HD

This real-time spinoff plays against type

XBox: The Official Magazine - - REVIEWS -

Fi­nal Fan­tasy Type-0 might well have the most be­wil­der­ing open­ing of a Square Enix game yet – and yep, we have played FFXIII. Terms like ‘Pax Codex’ and ‘Ver­mil­lion Peristyliu­m’ are thrown at you right from the be­gin­ning, and it isn’t un­til a good few hours in that you begin to piece to­gether what ev­ery­thing means. How­ever, once you’ve pierced through a veil of leaden nar­ra­tion, flat voice-act­ing, and dis­jointed and over­whelm­ing ex­po­si­tion, Type-0 emerges as an RPG wor­thy of your time.

Be­neath all the talk of war­ring na­tions, magic H-bombs, and our old friends the l’Cie, this lat­est Fi­nal Fan­tasy spinoff is a mod­er­ately sim­ple tale. The na­tions of Ori­ence are at war over the four crys­tals they were en­trusted with in an­cient, hap­pier times, with the evil Em­pire per­ilously close to con­quer­ing the world. The sit­u­a­tion is so des­per­ate that stu­dents at Rubrum’s Magic Academy are drafted in to help the war ef­fort, with the aid of their spe­cial abil­i­ties, fancy cloaks and tar­tan skirts. You play as all 14 mem­bers of the near-myth­i­cal Class Zero, who wear red capes and gen­er­ally do most of the heroic acts – they’re ba­si­cally the Academy’s Gryffind­ors.

It’s around the point at which we re­alised the Harry Pot­ter con­nec­tion that Type-0 be­came a dramatical­ly bet­ter game. The Magic Academy is pretty much Hog­warts, you see, but with Cho­co­bos, Moogle pro­fes­sors and Magitek ar­mour. Specif­i­cally, it’s the Hog­warts of the later Harry Pot­ter books, when ev­ery­thing is Grimly Se­ri­ous, and all your favourite ter­tiary char­ac­ters are grad­u­ally killed off. There isn’t much lev­ity to be found in Type-0’ s por­ten­tous war-room dia­logue and twisty back­room skul­dug­gery, but there is light­ness if you look for it, be it in the sunny Cho­cobo sta­ble, or the fre­quently silly side-quests.

School days

The Academy is your base of op­er­a­tions, and it’s here that you un­wind be­tween main mis­sions, in the few days you’re al­lot­ted be­tween ev­ery story beat. Time is de­voured in two-hour chunks, re­gard­less of how long things take you; you can spend it chat­ting with your fel­low stu­dents or ad­vis­ers, tak­ing classes in ex­change for stat up­grades or ven­tur­ing into the wider world to em­bark on sid­e­quests. Not ev­ery ac­tion causes time to ad­vance, but rather cer­tain con­ver­sa­tions, or the act of leav­ing the Academy, which gob­bles up a healthy six hours of your life. If you’ve played Per­sona 4, you’ll know how it works – there’s never enough time to do ev­ery­thing, so you’re of­ten forced

to save cer­tain scenes for the in­evitable sec­ond playthroug­h.

As time lim­its go, it’s in­cred­i­bly for­giv­ing – you could spend hours roam­ing around the coun­try­side com­plet­ing quests for nearby vil­lagers, and only use up a quar­ter of your ingame day. Type-0, un­like most re­cent Fi­nal Fan­tasies, fea­tures a proper world map, com­plete with ran­dom bat­tles, towns and even the odd large-scale mil­i­tary rum­ble. As part of the on­go­ing cam­paign, some mis­sions might ask you to rout troops, or in­vade oc­cu­pied vil­lages – it’s sim­ple stuff, but it does a good job mak­ing the threat of the Em­pire feel present and ever-ur­gent.

Mis­sions and side-quests gen­er­ally cul­mi­nate in a pro­ces­sion of bat­tles in some boxy town or cave. Out­side of the Academy, ar­eas tend to blend into one an­other, thanks to re­peat­ing tex­tures, grid­like en­vi­ron­ments, and other tricks em­ployed to orig­i­nally fit Type-0 onto the graph­i­cally hum­ble PSP. It’s hard to re­mem­ber which town you’re in when you’re ac­tu­ally in­side it, though most of the time you’ll be too busy keep­ing up with the hec­tic battle sys­tem to no­tice.

Type-0 re­ally ex­cels in its com­bat, though, which is fast-paced, com­plex and re­fresh­ingly tough. Each of the 14 playable char­ac­ters has their own unique weapon, from Cater’s fancy magic pis­tol to Ace’s Gam­bit-like pack of play­ing cards. Each plays dif­fer­ently, and you’ll ro­tate through favourites con­stantly through­out the game.

It would take the length of this re­view again to ex­plain the battle sys­tem in depth, but know that it’s real-time and that you can switch be­tween your three squad­mates at will. If one croaks, you can call in a re­serve – you’ll only hit a ‘game over’ if all 14 suc­cumb to the icy fin­gers of death.

This sounds for­giv­ing, but it’s re­ally not, at least on the stan­dard dif­fi­culty, and in some of the tougher ar­eas you might wan­der into on a sec­ondary quest. Enemies can be re­lent­less, and proper spacing is para­mount if you want to cast a heal­ing spell, as it needs to be charged be­fore use. You can mud­dle through, like we did in the early mis­sions, but el­e­ments like item use and char­ac­ter im­prove­ment be­come vi­tal later on.

The story might bore, but Type-0’ s battle sys­tem ri­vals FFXIII’s for its light­ning pace, thrilling feel and depth. It’s here, in the heat of battle, that this spinoff comes alive – yet you’re never far away from an­other self-se­ri­ous (and thank­fully skip­pable) cutscene that makes you long for the el­e­gance and wit of the early games. OXM

“The Academy is Hog­warts, but with Moogle pro­fes­sors”

The tiny Cinque wields a mas­sive heavy mace. The an­i­ma­tions of her swing­ing it around are hi­lar­i­ous. Pub­lisher Square Enix / De­vel­oper Square Enix / For­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Out now

This guy gives Class Zero mis­sions. His mask protects us from his foul hal­i­to­sis, prob­a­bly.

Nom­i­nal pro­tag­o­nist Ace wields a pack of play­ing cards. He’s the Paul Daniels of the bunch.

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