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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Review—Class Zero has Arrived

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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is the latest release in the long line of Final Fantasy games, and is available on PS4 and Xbox One. Type-0 HD is a port of a PSP game that came out in 2011, which never saw a release in the West, so HD is our first official taste of the game.

When you start the game, you’re treated to a beautiful intro cutscene that sets up the backdrop for the story of war that is to follow. The very basics of the story are really quite simple: one of the four main nations of Orience begins a war by invading the other nations. When the Militesi Empire invades the Dominion of Rubrum at the beginning of the game, a special group of students from the Vermillion Peristylium in Rubrum gets involved in the fight against the invaders. This group, called Class Zero, helps to turn the tide of the invasion by removing the biggest threat. The story develops from there.

The overarching narrative in Type-0 is really quite good, so I don’t want to spoil anything here. Suffice to say that the plot does complicate quite a bit throughout the first 15 hours or so, very quickly becoming difficult to follow if you aren’t really paying attention. Many of the twists and turns even require the player to read through the in-game encyclopedia to fully understand. This is a love it or hate it choice, as fully understanding the game and all of its twists requires the player to be involved in the lore of the vast world.

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The departure from a traditional Final Fantasy-style story leads this game down a great path. To my knowledge, it explores much darker themes than any other Final Fantasy game has, and it handles them with such deftness and tact that I was stunned at several key points. I never had imagined that such great storytelling would come from a Final Fantasy game, let alone a non-numbered title.

That said, however, the English translation could have been better. The translation in some places seems out of place, or like a non-sequitur. In fact, there are even a few lines scattered throughout the game that feel completely misplaced in their scenes. In addition, the choice to translate some things in the way they have been seems unnecessary. The most obvious of these choices is translating the names of Suzaku, Byakko, Souryu, and Genbu at all—while the four beasts may not hold much meaning in the West, not using their names is needless.

The sound editing for the English dialogue isn’t great, either. While many characters are voiced by really great actors, the lines themselves are often disjointed, as if they are performed separately rather than in a single take. Even when one character has two lines in a row, there is often no connection between the emotion or tone in the voice. Even if the individual lines are well acted, it’s jarring.

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Despite this, the game has a well-developed atmosphere, for the most part. The music is great, often helping set the mood for a scene or location, and the battle themes are enjoyable to listen to while dispatching enemies. The only hiccup in this department is the graphics. And that’s not even to say that they’re bad because they are really good for an HD port of a handheld game from four years ago. The issue, instead, is that the graphical improvements aren’t comprehensive—the main characters have all had a facelift, as have many of the locations, but secondary characters look terrible, and are likely ported straight from the PSP version.

This is especially noticeable on some characters, where the game transitions from an absolutely beautiful cutscene to an in-game scenario, and the characters involved look drastically different. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. With the exception of the main cast, almost every character has a very sub-par model. This even extends to important named characters that just don’t show up often.

Where the graphics are upgraded, they look stunning. The main cast look like their models were created from scratch, in many ways. The textures and colors were much more vibrant than the PSP version, and more parts of the model (such as hair and cloaks, for example) would move in comparison to the original, PSP models. That makes the older models that populate the game look just that much worse.

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Also, many of the animations for characters seem to have been imported as-is from the PSP, too. Class Zero’s default stances looked off and awkward on the bigger screen, as did some of the movements. And while I loved the camera’s auto-blur function when I moved it, the speed at which it spun was more jarring than it was on a handheld. There are many smaller things like this in the game that could’ve used more attention for the HD port. However, in the end, I think the graphics looked great considering the game was a PSP title from 4 years ago.

As for the gameplay: its impressive. The battle system is truly one of the best action RPG battle systems to hit a JRPG in years. The controls are tight, and the learning curve is just right. Type-0 doesn’t pull any punches, and the gameplay is that much better for it. The Class Zero students never feel like they truly have an upper hand, as two or three good hits can generally knock a character to 0 HP. You’re never really able to afford being careless–enemies will punish carelessness very, very quickly—and this ratchets battles’ intensity.

That’s not to say that the game is skewed in your enemy’s favor, however; they go down just as fast. In fact, most enemies can be dispatched well before they’re able to even hit you. The danger often comes from the number you face at once, as well as enemies flanking you. This game’s battle system was designed well, and it’s an incredible amount of fun, to the point that even grinding to level up your characters is enjoyable.

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The fourteen playable students in Class Zero offer an incredible amount of playstyles to pick from, too. While leveling up all fourteen evenly is recommended, it will require a bit of grinding to keep them all even unless you want to be vastly underleveled for the majority of the game. And as the characters level up, they’ll steadily grow further and further apart, and each will end up with a distinctive fighting style all their own.

Unfortunately, with 14 main characters, their characterization suffers hugely. While a few of them are important to the story and end up more developed than others, many of Class Zero’s members fall into anime-esque tropes and never really develop out of them. A good example of this is Nine, who never really becomes anything more than the ‘Act first, worry later’ type. He is a fun character, but he, like many others, remains two-dimensional throughout the story.

I would recommend Final Fantasy Type-0 HD to any JRPG fan—especially if they enjoy action RPG titles. Type-0 really delivers where it counts, despite being held back by a few minor problems, most of which are the result of it being an HD port.

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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

Overall : 8.5

The good:

  • Awesome story
  • Tight, well-developed combat
  • Battles feel dangerous and weighty
  • The HD retextures look stunning

The bad:

  • Poor characterization
  • English translation / Voice acting is lacking
  • Un-updated graphics on some characters look really bad
  • Some parts of the game seemed to be left alone when ported, leaving things feeling/looking awkward in some places.
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26 comments
  1. Phasmatis75
    Phasmatis75
    March 24, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I don’t know I’m finding the English voice acting to be funny in spots, especially with the poor lip syncing.

  2. Ben Jeanotte
    Ben Jeanotte
    March 24, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    It’s interesting, I don’t hate it, but the story is a mess, translation is horrible, voice acting is more horrible, and some things are just wonky and awkward. The HD textures are bullshit, the game looks like crap, environments are flat and unadorned, nature textures are HORRIBLE! Even minecraft bushes look better than FF0HD bushes!

    Also I’m sick of SE’s habit of naming everything crazy bullshit stuff that is hard to remember, or renaming things that already have a name. Please no more apostrophes in words guys! Retire l’Cie for once and for all, that shit is insulting to the eyes!

    Once you get over the wonky controls, combat is fun and flashy at least, which is the only reason I’m still playing.

  3. ThePringus
    ThePringus
    March 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Yeah all of that pretty much sums it up. I’m still playing though

  4. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Not since FF6&7 has there really been unique characterization that extends beyond archetypal personalities in FF games.
    Well, no wait, there was FF12, but to be honest I never finished that game so I don’t know. Seemed good, though.

    Anyway, this is why the whole trope-character thing doesn’t bother me, since it’s clearly a game driven more by the setting of it’s world than by its characters personalities. I’d prefer more, but let’s face it, FF isn’t known for more in that regard anymore. As long as the cast is enjoyable then I’m fine.

  5. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Anyway, good review, mate! I’ll be picking this up soon.

  6. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 24, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    The story is a lot better than just a mess and it’s not hard to follow if you look into its lore (and, though it hurts, reach into your trauma to recall the terminology of FF13).

    That said, the rest of what you brought up is sadly mostly true, and that’s due to Squeenix wanting to shoot this HD release out ASAP since the fan translators of the PSP game had just finished their long work.

  7. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 24, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    P.S. IF YOU OR ANYONE ELSE DOES NOT LIKE THE DIALOGUE OR TRANSLATION FOR HD, LOOK UP THE FAN TRANSLATION
    IT’S AMAZING and, in reality, the real reason SquareEnix gave us the HD release anyway, because it couldn’t stop the overseas translators (though it tried)

  8. Jack Ripper
    Jack Ripper
    March 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    God I hate SE’s hard on for their naming everything that sounds like Latin.

    Screw the apostrophes and the accents all over every single damn names. One of the reasons I couldn’t stand FFXIII and its overcomplicated bullshit plot.

  9. Flamingfighter
    Flamingfighter
    March 24, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Voice Acting and the translation are by far the lowest point of the game for me. The ending, no spoilers, was considerably heavy, but the Voice Acting just rips all of the emotions you are likely supposed to be feeling away. There are a few main characters’ whose voices grew on me, others I thought were fine, and some that were just plain terrible. Some of the lines felt as if they were direct translations of the Japanese text, but didn’t account for typical English sentence structures like past Final Fantasies have shown they could do (or maybe the VAs just accentuated the mistakes). It’s not great.

    And I agree, the game does have a pretty decent overarching story and plot, but the characters are poorly characterized. They are just archetypes, like the reviewer said, but they never develop beyond that. I don’t think a single member of class Zero beyond 4 of them get more than 20 significant lines in the entire game, and we;re expected to believe they have developed over the course of the game with that little to go on.

    Game itself is solid, though.

  10. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 12:35 am

    You now realize that this AND FF15 were both originally branching games from the FF13 world

    You now realize why the terminology frustrates you so much

    You now realize your frustration is forever justified

  11. Random45
    Random45
    March 25, 2015 at 12:39 am

    The review only briefly touched upon it, but I feel it’s worth mentioning that the motion blur in this game is ridiculously bad. If you get motion sickness, SKIP THIS GAME. It’s one of the few games that makes me feel physically sick playing it, so the only way to play it is to avoid the right thumb stick at all times. This seriously almost ruins the fucking game, I’m not kidding, it’s seriously that bad.

    Motion blur is dumb anyway, I wish they would allow us to turn the damn thing off.

  12. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I’m really annoyed we couldn’t get a DLC (or just the option proper) for Jap VA dubbing.

    It’s not a weeby thing to want with a game like this. The story is conveyed all by 3D models which are animated for the Japanese voice acting, which restricts both the translation and performance of the English VAs in order to make the dialogue fit within the animation frames (that is, to make sure a character isn’t still talking once they’ve shut their mouth)

    Drakengard 3 had similar issues, but the optional Jap VA work helped to bring in the actual vocal inflections and tones that were meant for the spoken lines.

    tl;dr even if the translation is wonky, the context of the performance, despite being in another language, is IMMENSELY impactful. Trying to fit English translations over set mouth animations is too restrictive and leads to a break in context/tone

  13. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Kind of like FOV sliders.
    Why can’t the gamer be allowed the controls to these kinds of things? Taking that ability to adapt the game to them just ruins things.

    Still, I’d recommend Drakengard 3 to you, Random45. I don’t recall the motion blur being bad (or even existing much) and it’s another very unique title from SquareEnix. Well, actually it’s from the awkward genius of Yoko Taro but still.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous
    March 25, 2015 at 4:05 am

    The translation sucked.

  15. CreslinMajere
    CreslinMajere
    March 25, 2015 at 4:11 am

    There is Japanese VA in this game, I’m using it myself since I’m weeby.

  16. Audie Bakerson
    Audie Bakerson
    March 25, 2015 at 5:22 am

    I think it may be the FoV not being updated properly from its portable roots more than the motion blur (which is never a good effect). FoV on portable games is often very low and I’ve heard of plenty of people being nauseated when those games are played at higher res/screen size without uping the FoV via an upscaling emulator or poorly done port

  17. LurkerJK
    LurkerJK
    March 25, 2015 at 9:32 am

    They stepped on poop with XIII then they rolled over it and smeared it all over their faces by shoving that crap into sequels, spin offs and everything they could get their hands on, dont be surprised if the next Hitman and Tomb Raider takes place there

    I cant understand why they dont just cut the crystalis whatever “saga” crap out, reuse the assets, fine, but get rid of that stupid lore, it does you no good, nobody like it, i have heard nothing but complains about it

  18. Nytezero
    Nytezero
    March 25, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    The English voice acting is downright atrocious, and did they seriously rename Suzaku to Vermilion Bird? WTF, you do not do direct translations like this, it breaks the context of the lore in two.

  19. Flamingfighter
    Flamingfighter
    March 25, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    As I recall, Yuna’s English VA in FFX had a similar issue. While it was generally fine, there were several moments that came out weird because, if I’m recalling correctly, the English VA was trying to match the Japanese facial animations while speaking the english lines.

  20. Flamingfighter
    Flamingfighter
    March 25, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I’m a person that doesn’t want to have to rely on subtitles to follow what’s going on, but that’s just me, at least a good sum of people can appreciate good VA.

  21. Chris Gregoria
    Chris Gregoria
    March 25, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I was torn when I mentioned that. On one hand, the four beasts mean nothing in the US. Most people have no idea what you’re talking about when you say Suzaku, Seiryu (Or Souryu in this case), Byakko, and Genbu people just give you a blank look.

    (…unless they were part of the generation that are familiar with the Four Saint Beasts of Maze Castle. But I digress)

    Unfortunately, while for those in the know it does really hurt the whole lore, it’s tough to objectively say they were wrong for translating them the way they did. (Though I am strongly of the opinion that they did wrong here.)

  22. Matt McCoy
    Matt McCoy
    March 25, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I don’t understand why people are complaining about Voice Acting since you can change it to Japanese…

  23. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Oh! Nevermind then. That’s very good
    It would have been better if they spent the time to properly lip-sync, but at least we have that

  24. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    I can understand that.

  25. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    March 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    “I cant understand why they dont just cut the crystalis whatever “saga” crap out.”
    Because Nomura.

    That’s the answer to every frustration regarding this.
    Because Nomura.

    Be prepared to see Lighting cameo in FF15, mate…

  26. Nytezero
    Nytezero
    March 26, 2015 at 1:12 am

    I agree. Even if these 4 names don’t mean anything to the westerners, they should keep it that way. There is always context and tone to consider when translating a JRPG.

    A DIRECT translation is a no-no when it comes to certain terms, and this is most certainly one of them.

    This isn’t even the biggest issue, the actual character lines in the game all sound like direct translations. I understand Japanese, so it really sticks out for me.

    I would say if someone wants to experience a tone that is much closer to the Japanese script, the fan translation is MUCH better, I highly recommend that.

    Square Enix seems to have outsourced Type 0 to a VERY inexperienced translation company and they royally butchered the tone and feel of the script. Even the voice direction is horrible, you are absolutely correct about the recorded english lines, no connection in tone between sentences.

    Good review. A JRPG reviewed by a JRPG fan who actually knows what he’s talking about. None of that “Too Much Water” bullshit.