|Dev: Square Enix|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Screen Resolution: 480p|
by Becky Cunningham
An eternity ago in video game time, Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy XIII would have three titles associated with it. The first was Final Fantasy XIII, which came stateside last year to mixed reviews. The second was Final Fantasy XIII Versus, an epic single-player action RPG that is currently in development hell. The third was Final Fantasy XIII Agito, an action RPG for the PSP with a focus on a robust action combat system. In January 2011, Square Enix announced that Agito was to be renamed Final Fantasy Type-0, as the game no longer had a close connection with the world of Final Fantasy XIII and might instead become the basis of a new series. It was a confusing stirring of the alphanumerical soup, but fans are mostly used to the new Type-0 title by this point.
Final Fantasy Type-0 has just come out in Japan, and debuted to glowing reviews from Japan's major gaming publications. Although it hasn't been officially announced for release in North America, it would be highly unusual for a Final Fantasy game not to be released here these days. If Type-0's PSP version on two UMDs isn't released here, we could very well see it available for the PS Vita later on. With that expectation in mind, let's take a look at what Final Fantasy Type-0 is all about.
Type-0's plot revolves around powerful magical crystals and the struggle to control them. The game is set in a world called Oriens, which is divided into four nations. Each nation has a giant crystal that grants it special powers, and nations were at peace until Milites suddenly invaded Rubrum and plunged all four nations into war. Rubrum's crystal was able to hold Milites at bay until it mysteriously shattered, leaving Rubrum vulnerable. Into the midst of this battle enters a group of students from Rubrum's premier magic academy, who have decided to fight back against Milites. The students, known as Class 0, specialize in a wide array of weapons and magical skills.
Despite the school setting and a cast of familiarly spiky-haired teenagers, the game has a decidedly mature feel to it. The opening sequence, depicting the invasion of Rubrum, shows far more graphic blood and death than the Final Fantasy series has seen before. The game's style evokes the World War I era, with soot-stained buildings, conservatively dressed characters, and the reality of brutal warfare. It's certainly disconcerting to see a bloody, dying chocobo on the field of battle, but that kind of unflinching look at the nature of war could be a positive sign for gamers looking for a more grown-up Final Fantasy. It remains to be seen if that sense of maturity carries through to the entire game, but the developers have stated that they aimed to explore the topics of death and loss in the game.
With the game's wartime setting, the gameplay involves the students receiving missions from the military and being deployed on the battlefield. Battles in Type-0 are fought in real time. Players will form a battle party of three from any available characters, and success in the battle system depends on switching between the characters during the fight. In contrast to the battle system in Final Fantasy XIII, abilities must be activated by the player, with the PSP's face buttons corresponding to an ability each. Different characters will have different weapons and fighting styles, and stringing their different attacks together into combinations will be a big part of the system. The famous Final Fantasy summons will play a role in battle as well, so expect to see Shiva, Ifrit, Odin, and friends. There will also be airship combat and a real-time strategy battle system in which armies clash with each other.
Beyond the main story and various kinds of battles, there are several extra activities available in Type-0. Chocobo breeding, a favorite minigame from Final Fantasy VII, is back, allowing the party to ride the chocobos they breed at the school's ranch. The school will have airships available for transportation, and the party will obtain its own airship later in the game. A co-op multiplayer mode will be available, although the entire game can't be played in this manner. The multiplayer component seems geared toward allowing players to help each other out in short bursts. Finally, there will be a robust New Game Plus mode available after the game is complete. Characters will retain their statistics after the first playthrough, and a second time through will reveal new stories about the students in Class 0.
The graphics in Type-0 are up to Square Enix's usual high standards. Cutscenes look gorgeous, and the battle graphics are appropriately flashy. The world map is quite large and features various different ecosystems. Character and monster graphics are also attractive and boast a style that looks consistent without losing character or color. The game's music also sounds good so far, but fans who were let down on Final Fantasy XII's style over substance can be less worried about this title. There appears to be plenty of content and exploration to be had in Type-0.
It's a shame that the PlayStation Portable hasn't seen very much success in North America, because Final Fantasy Type-0 is the latest in an impressive parade of quality role-playing games to grace the system. Hopefully Square Enix will find a way to bring this game to the English-speaking audience, because it appears to be a return to form for the beleaguered RPG developer. In the meantime, we can look at the pretty pictures of Type-0 and wait for the company to make an official localization announcement.
CCC Contributing Writer