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Four Years Later

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    ZeoKnight
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    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Four Years Later

    Ever since I’m a small kid, if there’s a series of games that has never let me down, that series is Final Fantasy. The first title I played from this game was Final Fantasy VIII released for the PSX console, and starting from there I tried to play each and every entry. I even went back to play some older titles while waiting for the new releases. Although I missed some great titles later, I have always enjoyed all of the Final Fantasy games I’ve ever played until now.

    The series has also spanned multiple spin-off titles that don’t follow the same style that the mainline games have. One of these games is Final Fantasy Type-0, which is easily one of the best games I’ve played. Unfortunately, this game never had a localization for English speaking regions. Because of this, it was very difficult at times, but that small issue didn’t stop me from playing it until the very end, which means I played around 150 hours.

    Four years after the original release, Square Enix decided to release an HD version of this wonderful game for the current generation of consoles, and it was localized! A handful of fans that enjoyed this game without understanding much of what was going on finally got the chance to grasp this game in its entirety.

    Not only did Square Enix amp up the graphics and added a few improvements here and there, this remaster took everything that was already good and made it even better. Like I stated above, I’m one of the players that got to beat the first title without knowing Japanese, and now that I finally got the game I loved in English I can say without a doubt that this is a great game that you simply can’t miss. Why? Find out in this review!

    The Game’s Backstory:
    The story takes place in the fictional world of Orience. In this world there are four countries: The Milites Empire, The Lorican Alliance, The Kingdom of Concordia, and The Dominion of Rubrum. Each country has their own crystal, which is kind of a powerful artifact that gives them power, and their objective is to protect it at all cost. Long times ago, all of the countries were at war against each other because of the crystals, until they decided to make a peace treaty known as Pax Codex. Thanks to this, the world was peaceful again.

    Suddenly, the leader of Milites Empire, Marshal Cid Aulstyne, spontaneously decides to "reunite" all of the countries under his rule. However, he wasn’t planning to do it in a very peaceful way, so shortly after his statements, he launches massive attacks to all of The Dominion of Rubrum’s regions. Attacking the other countries violates the Pax Codex, but that doesn’t stop him at all. One of the Milites’ main fleets manages to sneak and attack the Akademeia, the main capital of The Dominion of Rubrum.

    At first, the Dominion’s cadets repel the attacks with their magic, but then one of the fleet manages to sneak past the guards and deploys Crystal Jammer, which render Dominion’s crystal power ineffective. Without their power, the battle quickly become one sided. Marshal Cid Aulstyne then gives Chancellor Khalia Chival VI, the leader of The Dominion of Rubrum, only six hours to surrender the country’s crystal, otherwise he will take it by force and kill all of the remaining Dominion’s cadets. When it seems that the chancellor has no other choice, the mysterious group appears in the battlefield and try to regain control. This group is later known as Class Zero, and your journey as a player begins with them.

    Story:
    The plot kicks off with Class Zero’s attempt to regain control of the Akademeia, main capital of The Dominium of Rubrum. After that, The Dominium of Rubrum slowly regains all of the lost regions during the invasion. The story of the game revolves around the Akademeia and what happens with The Milites Empire, as well as the other countries.
    The main story has eight chapters and each chapter has 1 or 2 missions, which are pretty long and worthwhile. There are also some optional missions as well, which are harder but give better rewards. I can say that missions are this game’s main content, and each of them provides a small glimpse of the whole story at the time, building up wonderfully up until the closing act.

    The story is truly great in the beginning. However, as you progress through the game, there are too many plot twists and suddenly it becomes really hard to understand what’s going on. By the time I reached midgame, I didn’t care about the story anymore and just played the game to finish it and see what happens in the ending. I’m not going to spoil anything, but what I can say is that it really took me by surprise.

    Since the story is quite convoluted, I had to browse the internet and collect some additional information to get some better explanations during each segment. They tried to pull off a complex story, but in the final product we just got something that’s hard to understand unless you replay the game or read the game’s story in the Wiki while playing. Overall, the build up was great but everything that follows from there wasn’t as good.

    Story: 6/10

    Characters:
    In the game you have full control of all the Class Zero members, which are 14 characters right from the start of the game. Yeah, fourteen characters. Most RPG usually will have one or two party members at the start of the game, and the player recruits more characters as they progress through the game. I was surprised myself when I saw that I had to to maintain 14 characters since the very beginning. Fortunately, the player won’t recruit any other character any time soon, so this feature won’t become a hassle. I don’t like having to keep track of many charaters at the same time, so this was kind of overwhelming at first.

    You can bring all 14 characters to the mission, although some missions have a restriction for how many party members you can bring. Three chosen party members will become the active party while the others just stay as the reserves. Unfortunately you can’t switch between active party member and the reserve ones during the missions.

    In the main story, some of the characters also will leave temporarily, and it’s all explained throughout the story. There is also a case when you can’t bring a specific character because of the mission’s restriction. However, all of the characters will come back and you will have controls to all 14 characters for most of the time.

    Every character is very unique. They equip a specific weapon and it’s different from each others. For example, Ace uses Cards, Deuce uses a Flute, Trey uses a Bow, etc. That’s why they all have their own combat style, moves, abilities, and skills. Since there are many choices, you can pick any character you like and use it as your main character. Let’s say if you like Link from Zelda series, you can choose Trey as he uses bow. If you think scythe looks cool, Sice may be your option. The game lets you explore all of the characters and find the one you like. A very nice feature is that every character has their own animations even for the most simple animations, like dodging. It’s noticeable that the developers didn’t go down the easy route of just copying and pasting the same thing onto everyone.

    Characters: 9/10

    Battle System:
    This game is an Action RPG, so all the battles take place in real time unlike the turn-based mainline games. You need to move your character closer to the enemies and land a strike to deal the damage (logically, ranged characters don’t need to do this since they can shoot from far). Since you can roam around freely, you can move to your target’s back and strike from there to land a critical hit. Critical strike deals more damage and have a chance to stun the target. Remember that the enemies, especially the one with quick movement, can move to your back and deal critical hit as well. This adds a lot to the overall challenge.

    Now I’ll talk about the abilities and skills. Each ability and skill can be activated instantly, but most of them are delayed because of the animation that takes place when you’re performing them. Enemies can (and will) interrupt you when you are doing this, so the best choice is to retreat a little bit and wait for the right moment to use it. Some skills also have an area of effect, so you will need to judge your distance and use it to your advantage. The third aspect is spells. Most of the basic spells will activate instantly, while some of the end game spells need to be charged before they can be used, so you have to dodge everything until the spell is ready to be used.

    In the missions, the whole area becomes the battlefield. All of the enemies will spawn at a fixed position and they won’t reappear after you defeat them. However, there are some cases when the enemies will respawn continuously when you need to wait for something to be done. In this limited time, it’s better to bring some weaker characters to train them. Outside of missions, the battle can happen in the world map as random encounters, just like in the mainline games. When you trigger one, the screen will change to a battle screen and you just need to defeat all of the enemies. There are also some optional dungeons in this game. It’s similar to normal missions (the whole place become your battlefield) but you don’t have any objectives, so you can backtrack and exit the place at any time.

    There is another important aspect in this game, which is about Breaksight and Killsight. This is a battle system which you can deal a major damage to the enemy by landing a hit in the specific period when the "sign" appears. Breaksight will deal major damage and Killsight will kill your target instantly. With this system, you can kill the enemies faster, especially for bosses since they have more health. Each enemy will have different Breaksight/Killsight’s "sign" period from each others. Some signs will appear when the enemy wants to attack you but before the actual hit happens, just like a parry. Some signs will appear when the enemy is in the middle of attack motion, and some signs will appear just after you successfully dodge their attack. Most of the bosses also have the signs, but some bosses don’t have it at all, so you have to defeat them by the normal method.

    Overall, The combat system is really good and incredibly deep and engaging. With all of the selectable characters right from the start of the game, you have many strategies to defeat all of the enemies. It’s easily one of the best games from its genre.

    Battle System: 9.5/10

    In-depth analysis of the Gameplay:

    Mission
    Missions are basically what you’ll be doing during your entire playtime, and there are 2 types of mission: Normal mission and RTS (Real Time Strategy). In the normal mission, you just need to complete all of the objectives thrown at you. Normally it’s done by exploring all of the area and defeating the last boss in the last area to complete it. In RTS missions, the main objective is to capture all of the enemy’s base while at the same time defending yours, kind of like capture the flag. This kind of mission will happen in the world map (no random encounter will appear). Each base will spawn a specific troop in a specific time interval. Now you have to move to the enemy’s base while defeating all of the enemy’s troops and let your troops capture that base. For some of the main bases, you have to invade the base and defeat the troops’ commander to conquer the base. Sometimes there will be some information to do some optional objectives in the mission. It’s recommended if you do it since you usually get better loot that you can use during the harder missions.

    All of the completed missions will be unlocked in the main menu. By selecting "Missions" from the main menu after loading your save, you can replay all of the completed missions however you want. There will be 3 difficulties in each mission, which is Officer, Agito, and Finis. Of course, harder difficulty will give you better rewards but also stronger enemies. However, it’s not recommended to take on harder missions immediately after you complete it from the main story because you probably won’t have the necessary equipment or skill to do it. You can wait until you have gained some levels as you progress through the game and then come back to do the second attempt.

    Free Time
    Another important aspect of this game is the Free Time system which will appear between the main story missions. Before each next mandatory mission, you can explore around the Akademeia and do some events, tasks, or even optional quests. Each Free Time has predetermined set of time, so you will know how much time left until the next mission. Each triggered event will decrease the time. If you take the optional mission, it will decrease even more of your available time. When all of your time has been used, you will be forced to take the next main story mission. Of course, you can waste all of the remaining time by talking to a specific person even though it’s not recommended.

    Events can be easily triggered and completed by talking to the specific person with exclamation sign on his/her head. Sometimes you need to bring a specific character, so you have to switch to that character to complete the event. Tasks won’t decrease the time but you need to do a specific requirement to complete it. If you only need to give some specific items, you can complete the task instantly if you already have them. However, if the task requires you to kill some enemies in the world map, you have to go outside, which means your time will be decreased when you come back.

    With the above explanations, you may have noticed that Free Time is the most complicated aspect of this game. You only have a predetermined set of time but all of the available events/tasks/optional missions (I will say "events" to make concise writing) can’t be completed at the same time. All of the available events will vanish in the next Free Time, so you have to choose the event that you think rewards better loot than the others, and leave the others to be done in the second playthrough. All of them aren’t doable in a single playthrough, so you’ll have to do a second run through the game if you want to complete everything. In the second playthrough you can complete all of the events and also grasp the lack the story parts that you probably missed in your first run.

    World Map Exploration
    As you progress through the main story, you’ll be able to visit more towns and places. Towns are not as attractive as the other games, because all of them only have one area to explore, whether it’s a small or big town. The developers probably didn’t want the player to move through screens that would cause more loading times, so they built everything in one area. Anyway, each town usually has a couple of shops and a task giver. Similar to the Tasks found in the Akademeia, you can complete the task by doing the specific requirements, like by defeating some specific enemies or by obtaining some specific items. So you probably have to explore around in the world map, especially the optional dungeon, to complete the task. This adds a lot to the Replay Value, with each run there are probably a lot of tasks you couldn’t do which you’ll discover in your re-runs.

    Overall, Mission and Free Time are a very nice and unique additions to the Final Fantasy formula. Some other games may have a similar mission concept, but I don’t think there is a game with a system similar like the Free Time system. Second playthrough also has different unlockable main story missions, so the game won’t be the same as the first playthrough. It was just brilliantly executed, newer games from the mainline like XV can learn a thing or two from this game.

    Ratings: 9.5/10

    Graphics:
    This game has great visuals, and it’s even better in this remastered version. Movies are what you would expect from Final Fantasy, flawless CGI. One of the best cutscenes has many particles constantly moving around at once and it doesn’t lag a single bit, this is one of Square Enix’s areas of expertise and that is very noticeable in this entry. Hair animation is probably one of the hardest things to be implemented, but some movies with all of the fourteen characters are really well done. If I looked back at the original version, that game may have some lag or glitchy parts, but it’s corrected in this remastered version. It’s truly an outstanding job.

    The design concept for all character is really great. School uniforms are the basic concept, and all of the Class Zero members wear a red cape to identify themselves among the other classes’ cadets. Each character has their own personality, so each character has a different style for the outfit. For example Ace wears the cape by simply tying his cape in the chest and his cape’s length is about his waist. Deuce wraps it around her neck to look like a scarf, and so on. In the game, the player can view each character’s face from close up, the outfit, and also the short description from the Library. Honestly, it’s hard to notice that this game is a remaster from a handheld released title because of the attention that the developers put to the small details. It looks like it was made with the new consoles in mind to begin with, which is really great.

    World map concepts are great except one thing, the design of the towns. I don’t like it because all of the towns in a particular region have a very similar design, if not the same. It looks and feels like a copypaste, which drags down the overall experience a tad little bit. The optional dungeons’ design are much better because each place has their own design. Other than that, the design of Plains, Mountains, Deserts, and any other parts in the world map are composed excellently.

    The battle graphics are also superb. Skills and magic attacks have awesome animations, especially the ones with area of effects. In the battles, you can also summon a powerful beast to help you in the battle called Eidolon. The Eidolon looks marvelous when it’s summoned, the animations are jaw dropping to say the least. The Eidolons itself and their attack move animations are really well done. Each skill, magic, and the Eidolon have smoother and more detailed animations compared to the original version, it’s nice to see that this wasn’t just a cash grab and that they actually cared for their product.

    Overall, most of the graphics are really well done, there’s really no complaints about them. The first version had some of the best graphics for the PlayStation Portable, and now seeing this great game running with the power of a PlayStation 4, it’s without a doubt eye candy.

    Graphics: 9/10

    Audio:
    Honeslty, the VA team didn’t perform as well as they should’ve. Most of the characters are spot on, but there are a few that really don’t match, and the voice ends up being very different than the personality the character reflects. I believe the Japanese Voice Actors from the original version of this game have delivered much better voices than the English counterparts. Fortunately, this game has dual audio tracks and you can set it from the system menu. If you don’t like the English version as the default track, you can change it to Japanese version. Anyway, in the Japanese VA, each characters’ voice goes along flawlessly with their personality. While in the battle, human enemies also have voices too, but unfortunately it’s the same audio files for all the enemies. Like if they were all clones of each other.

    Sound effects are still great, they took some of the sounds they used in the original version and made them even better. The click sound when navigating through menus, the footsteps, the sound of fountain, the flapping wings, and any other sound can be heard very clearly. In the battle, the sound of basic attacks, gunshots, even the activation of abilities, skills, or magics are great. Sometimes the enemies (especially the bosses) have a deadly move which is quite hard to dodge if you only look from the screen. At this point, you have to rely on sounds to predict their special attack move and quickly react against it. Also, if you switch your main character with the other active battle character, each character has a switch-in and switch-out voices. This is a way to let you know when you have switched to the correct character.

    Music is like what you would expect from Square Enix. They’re well known for making the best soundtrack for their games in the entire industry, even for their spin-off titles like this game. All of the original soundtracks in the original version were remastered beautifully. Each mission and places have very good background music, but some of them share the same track, which on the long run can make it tedious. It would have been better if the developer composed a track for each mission and places, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Cutscenes have background music as well, and it goes really well with the situations.

    Overall, all of the entries here are great except the voice acting team. I believe they have done their best to deliver what they were supposed to, but the executions were a little bit off. However, as the whole product, this game still have one of the best records for Final Fantasy games up to this point.

    Audio: 8.5/10

    Closing:
    This game is really great and I really recommend you to play it, even if you don’t like Final Fantasy as a franchise. Everything blends in brilliantly to the point that it’s rather easy to overlook the small flaws the game has. Once you start playing this game, you won’t want to drop it and before you realize, you’ll have like 50 hours clocked in. It’s that good. The replay value is also very high, the game has so much content that you’ll still have a fresh feeling while going through a second or third playthrough. It’s definitely one of the best Final Fantasy games up to date.

    Overall Ratings:
    Story: 6/10
    Characters: 9/10
    Battle System: 9.5/10
    Gameplay: 9.5/10
    Graphics: 9/10
    Audio: 8.5/10

    Final Score: 8.5/10
    GameFAQs rating: 4.25/5, which rounds down to 4

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