My experience on Final Fantasy Type-0 has been rather chaotic : interrupted by Atelier Totori, and then by Final Fantasy XIII-2. I even restarted to benefit from the Growth Egg offered in the 2nd demo. In this mayhem, what to think of this uncommon entry in the series?
War and Peace
Final Fantasy Type-0 throws you in an all-out war between 3 countries, each one wanting to conquer the entire continent (yes, your country as well). From the desperate defense of Suzaku to the conquest of the neighbouring countries, the game depicts the war with realism, like the best war movies. The story doesn’t fall into manicheism though : Class 0, the elite group you play as, will endure the harsh reality of war and witness the rise and fall of their own status in Suzaku. That’s what’s good in Type-0 : the game doesn’t fall in the cliché of the hero of justice, it shows a reality far more complex than your average RPG. On the action side, FF Type-0 has much to deliver : its heated gameplay (nearly BTA-like) is one thing, but the main reason is in the insane pace at which you conduct your missions. The game knows how to maintain the pressure and increase the intensity of events and battles. You just vanquished a powerful opponent? The one behind the door is stronger still. You think you just achieved a feat? The future challenges will horrify you. The action in Type-0 requires maximum focus at every second and the player sticks at his character as if it were his own life. The fabulous original score weights a lot to make Final Fantasy Type-0 an epic concoction like few. Outside of the battlefield, the members of Class 0 live an hilarious student life, the humor being the best that the series has known for ages. The classes are a huge laugh : Ace and Sice sleep, Cinque shouts that she’s hungry, Jack doesn’t bother and eats, Seven wonders Ace’s cards, Cater is bored to death while Trey is the only one who listen to the teacher.
Memories of Life
The character design is another strength of Type-0. Every character has a unique and strong personality. Like Sice shouting “let’s slaughter them!” at the beginning of missions, Nine always trying to pick up a fight, Queen pacifying the class, Cinque who seems to have skipped years of classes and Trey speaking like a professor, the personalities are varied and lovable. The bonds between the characters are much more developed than in recent Final Fantasy games, which is extremely pleasant. In the world of Type-0, when somebody dies, all memories of him disappear, even within his relatives. This scenaristic particularity doubles or triples the emotional effect of certain cutscenes.
A technical feat
For a “mere” PSP game, Type-0 is impressive : backgrounds aren’t anything special, but character modeling is insane and only Crisis Core can rival it. But the most striking point is the astonishing quality of the animations. Your characters, in battle as well as in rest, are full of little gestures that make them alive like never. You just have to see Cater reloading while thrusting her knee onto the ground, readjusting her boots or toying with her pistols. Not to mention the beautiful CG scenes, the summoning of Alexander alone being reason enough to get this game. Needless to say, the technical performance makes the game even more immersive.
The thing is… the difficulty level in Final Fantasy Type-0 is punitively high : even after having cleared most FF at 100%, this one nearly had me throw to towel quite a couple of times! You basically have your 12 characters but no means to resurrect them, whereas many enemies can OHKO or 2HKO you. Bosses or semi-bosses can wipe your entire team out with ease, so that you finish every mission very tired. Worse : the game asks you several times to lose on purpose. Even if it’s part of the scenario, seeing your last character dying is never a pleasant sigh… All this is all the more true that farming is pain : even when equipped with the Growth Egg, leveling up takes a looooooong time!
The Potemkine village
The most disappointing thing in Type-0 is the lack of overall content. Remember all the news about it, the unbelievable number of characters SquareEnix teased over the years : all those eventually represent a tiny part of the game. Actually, this Final Fantasy shows all the symptoms of the game the development of which was finished in great haste : in the second half of the game, the number of sidequests, cutscenes and the narrative density drops dramatically. In the very end, every sidequest is lvl. 50+ meaning that you can’t take them in your first run. You have nothing to do but to keep skipping to the next story mission. Judging by the volume of the Ultimania guidebook, I obviously don’t know everything about FF Type-0, but I still believe it’s not even one third of what it was intended to be.
Another problem of this game is, as you might know, that you can’t get it at your local gamestore. Don’t expect to enjoy the scenario or the humor without a large Kanji book and a degree in Japanese language on your wall : the vocab in the game is complex and varied (military, theology, everyday life, etc.) and cutscenes go fast. The western localization is merely at the rumor state, and every day without an official announcement make it less likely.
In short and despite the obvious flaws and the cruel and horrible ending (let’s hope it’s not becoming a trend at SquareEnix), Final Fantasy Type-0 should please FF fans… provided it reaches them!