Monday, March 28, 2016

Backlog Gaming Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Good Game, Not Great

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was next in my backlog of games to play. I started out with relatively good hopes for the game. That dwindled as my play through progressed. The story starts out strong with the fighter cadets of Class Zero fighting in an epic battle with an enemy that they're at war with. The scenes are beautifully done and the music for the game is fantastic. There are of course, the adorable Moogles (as with most of the Final Fantasy games) to help Class Zero in their missions throughout the game.

Adorable Moogles just want to help. 

First, the good. The combat system is pretty close to perfect with a user menu that is easy to navigate. Considering that you have 14 characters to choose from for your party of 3, the secret training at the training arena area is a big help. When you are finished playing the game for the moment, you can select a character to participate in secret training and it returns to the main title menu and while you're busy doing other things that person can go up a few levels. It only lasts up to 24 hours however, but gaining a few level ups on a character from secret training is not too shabby. 

The fact that you can adjust the difficulty level of the game is a huge plus. You can play on easy if you wish so you can just enjoy the game or make it a challenge for yourself. The reserve system works really well. Out of the 14 characters, you can pick 3 to be in your party. The rest remain in reserve so that if one of your party members dies, you can swap them out easily. The Eidolons are incredibly cool looking, even after you consider the fact that a party member has to sacrifice themselves in order to summon one. 

Ifrit, one of the Eidolons.

The world outside the Academy is fairly vast. This is where your Chocobos come in. Calling a Chocobo is easy and the menu is simple and straightforward. You can also breed your Chocobos to make more Chocobos and you can also capture wild Chocobos roaming free on the world map. Each of your party members has different abilities and no two are alike making for a lot of interesting possibilities. You can't just mash buttons here, you do need to plan some strategy and tactics which makes for some fun and solid battles. 

Exploration is easy on your trusty Chocobo.

Now let's get to the bad. While there is some freedom to explore, Final Fantasy Type-0 is not as open as it could be. Yes, it's meant to be linear going from Mission A to Mission B and the like. That being said, you actually have a set amount of time to do things until the day of the mission. For example, if you go out and level grind, fighting monsters and other enemies when you go back to the Academy 2 hours have passed. This cancels out a lot of side quests and talking to other NPCs because time will pass. Some side quests you can do, but the rest are meant for a second play through or more of the game. It's a little frustrating because it means you can't fully go after ALL of the side quests like you want to because of time restraints. Maybe that works for other people, but for myself I don't have that kind of time or that kind of patience. Yes I have done multiple play throughs of other games, but the difference is I could get all the side quests done in one gaming play through and not pick and choose which ones I would do right then and which ones I would save for the next gaming session. With that constantly ticking timer at the bottom of the screen, it adds a lot of unnecessary pressure and detracts a bit from enjoying the game. 

That timer at the bottom of the screen is annoying.

The story or lack of one is rather confusing. There are a lot of proper nouns used along with some puzzling lingo (think a'la Final Fantasy XIII with that F'alcie and L'icie business) that will have you scratching your head wondering what the heck is going on. Basically the plot consists of: Commander Cid who is the commander of the Imperial Army is invading all the nations including the nation that Class Zero lives in. Class Zero goes on all these missions to basically stop him. There isn't enough time to really get to know all the characters so I found it hard to connect with them emotionally or even care about them. That's not a good sign.  The story itself is rather vague which is why you should definitely not play the game for the story because you'll just be disappointed. Play it for the combat system because that is where Final Fantasy Type-0 shines. The only drawback to that is how uneven some of the battles feel and yes, that includes playing the game on the easy setting. Sometimes the difficulty level of a battle will spike ridiculously high causing a lot of frustration especially when a mission is timed. 

The camera angles that are absolutely terrible. Nothing kills a gaming session for me than bad camera angles. The motion blur while not deal breaking can throw you off for a moment and you lose sight of the character you're controlling. There are also moments where the camera seems blurry and I have no idea why. Factor in that there are times when running down a narrow hallway you can't see because you can't turn the camera completely where it needs to be, then you have a problem. This was something that could have easily been addressed, but was not. 

I really struggled to finish this game because of these issues. When a game becomes a chore to finish, it doesn't bode well for anyone involved. Final Fantasy Type-0 is a good game, but it's not a great one. I'm not even sure it was worth playing through once because the reward is not fulfilling and that's a damn shame because it could have been a terrific game, but it missed the mark for me. 

The game has amazing artwork like this, but I need more than pretty. 

*Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is playable on these platforms: PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One

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