has been around for so many years now that it's hard to avoid it. Everyone who has played the series has their favourite game, and it often ends up being one of the earlier, classic entries. There are a lot of games that haven't even seen the light of day in the West, but Square Enix are helping to rectify that. Previously unreleased in the West, originally on the PSP in 2011, the Xbox One gets its first taste of the series with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (EU Ver)
. The question is, how well does a PSP game play on an Xbox One? Time to find out.
Meet Class Zero
The game starts with a long string of cut scenes that you'll be forgiven for not understanding completely. What you will be able to grasp is that world you are in is at war, and the people are fighting over the power of four crystals (vermillion bird, white tiger, azure dragon, black tortoise). The town you are in, Rubrum, comes under the protection of the vermillion bird crystal, and you take on the role of the members of Class Zero (from Akademia, a school for cadets) to help protect your dominion and the crystal. The reason Class Zero are called upon is because there were created by a doctor in the school, their "mother", and have the chance to succeed where others would fail. The story unfolds gradually throughout the course of the game, and your understanding of the start of the game and the cut scenes consequently grows the further you get, but it is quite a lot of information to be thrown at you for the very start of a game.
You are given the initial choice of difficulty (cadet, officer or agito) when you start a new game, but this difficulty can be changed later on in between missions, so you don't have to worry if you find the game too easy/difficult. The game also gives you the opportunity to have tutorials throughout the first level, which can be helpful, as there is a combination of new and old battle elements. The biggest change to note from the most recent Final Fantasy XIII
series, is the fact that now most battles take place right on the field instead of going into a special battle mode. What this means is a more fast flowing game play and fewer loading screens, as well as a more manic free-for-all type battling instead of turn-based, stacked up attacks.
Be prepared to fight enemies head on
Once you've locked onto the enemy, you have a choice of both melee and magic attacks, as well as a healing/block/protection spell. It is up to you to figure out which combination of these attacks will do the most damage, as typically some enemies will be weaker for fire or ice magic for example, where others will simply absorb certain attacks. Most of the character's weapons can be charged up for more damage, which will come in useful for some of the bigger, tougher enemies you will be meeting. Coming across a large group of enemies will seem daunting at first, but taking out the leader of the group causes the lesser enemies to simply surrender themselves, so focusing your energy on the head of the pack is often the best strategy, but can cause some of the fights to be too easy at times.
Another addition to combat is the kill sight. Often after an enemy attacks, they will get a yellow and red marker on them. This is an indicator that the enemy is in a weakened/vulnerable state, and an attack now will result in either large damage (yellow) or even a one hit kill (red). The markers only stay for a couple of seconds, so your window is small but you will learn when particular enemies are vulnerable. This is particularly handy when fighting bosses, and defeating some bosses relies upon you hitting them at this time to do any damage at all. Utilising the kill sight will help you turn fights in your favour, and will definitely come to your rescue if you are struggling with low health and running low on characters. Once again though, this dramatically shortens fights, and on a couple of occasions took away the grandiosity of boss fights by making them rather short.
A red marker is a short window for a one hit kill
Having fourteen characters to choose from is both a blessing and a curse in this game. Obviously fourteen is a lot of deaths to get through, so you are quite unlikely to fail missions at all through the game (although the difficulty spike towards the end might cause you problems). There's also a nice variety of weapons and magic for you to get to grips with, from King's guns, to Ace's deck of cards, to Machina's blades. You will quickly learn which style of weapon suits you best, and which party of three you will be relying on during your adventure. Sometimes though you will be forced to split up your characters, and have certain missions where some characters can't go for story reasons, so learning everyone's moves is the best way to ensure your success. Each mission has a suggested level, so you can train your characters to that level before you start (and the game suggests keeping all characters at the same level where possible).
In terms of leveling your characters, there are bound to be a few that you rarely use and get left a few levels behind everyone else (and these will inevitably be the ones you will be stuck relying on as your last hope in boss fights after everyone else has died). Taking Moogle's classes in the school will increase the level or state of all your characters, depending on what lecture you take. Apart from that and from the obvious fighting enemies in the field, there is a combat simulator you can partake in continuously to earn small amounts of EXP, or a special mission option, which levels your character whilst you aren't on the game (a handy thing to leave your character in whilst you sleep, for example). Being lower than the recommended level isn't the biggest obstacle, and you will be able to get through all the missions even if you are, particularly on the easier difficulty, but if you want to make the game that bit less stressful for yourself, you will definitely want to have most, if not all, of your characters properly leveled up. You can even call upon other cadets from the school, who will be the required level, mid-mission, but this must be decided beforehand, and means your character's won't get any EXP apart from your leader.
Take a lesson from a Moogle
The game itself is split into eight chapters, with various missions filling the time in between. Whilst not partaking in missions, your characters will be at Akademia, the hub world for the game. As hubs go, Akademia is not the biggest but it is certainly impressive and offers plenty to keep you busy. You are given an allotted amount of free time in the form of hours between missions, where talking to an "!" character takes up two hours, and going outside of the school takes up six hours. There are also tasks which take up no time, but can have you wandering outside the school, so will essentially take up the six hours anyway. It is completely up to you how you spend your time, and the game happily lets you wander about the school for as long as you want. The freedom you have is nice instead of forcing you to carry on. One minute you could be breeding chocobos at the ranch, and the next you could be on a wild goose chase for a cactaur round the school to help another student prove its existence. The hub adds such a nice change of pace from the stress of the missions, and you feel like you can relax along with your characters.
Exploring outside of Akademia is worth doing, as there is more to do and see. Ignoring the rather dull surroundings of the over world, you'll come across other small towns in the regions that you can enter for more tasks and NPCs to talk to. Some of these towns must be captured in extra missions before you can enter them. This involves you commanding sets of troops to attack and take over camps, before attacking and invading the main town for capture. These scenarios add another change to the gameplay, but having only come across three of these missions (and even being given the chance the skip two of them completely), they seem unimportant to the game itself, and are something simply thrown in as a little, unneeded, extra mission variation. Bypassing the towns, there is little else to do apart from get attacked by roaming enemies, or capture wild chocobos for riding or breeding later.
Get to know your fellow cadets better
On the graphical side, you can definitely see improvements, but it is clear the game has come from an earlier port. Where the game really shines on Xbox One is the proper cut scenes, especially the ending scenes, where the details in the characters and the scenery are top notch. Akademia itself is grand in stature, and the graphics live up to that, but a lot of the over world and the mission places are met with dull and unexciting landscapes. They are by no means bad, but it feels like there could have been more done to make some of the locations look just that little bit like its on an Xbox One, and not a PSP. The music, on the other hand, is well-scored and connected well to the story all the way through, with soft, gentle tones for the many sad moments, and fast, upbeat music for the boss battles and frantic fights.
One major downfall for the game is the camera. You can control it yourself, but it often moves too fast for you to get it to the right place. If you leave the game to follow you along by itself, the camera often jumps off in the wrong direction or aims too high or too low. Whilst this shouldn't be enough to put you off the game, it got more than a bit irritating at certain moments. In particular, portions when trying to fight enemies and when you target them, the camera can't even seem to keep them in the screen. Apart from that, the game seems to have transferred over the from the PSP rather well, and the only other thing which you may notice is having to use the d-pad to navigate through menus and sub menus, which feels unusual at first but can be gotten used to fairly quickly.
Which cadet will be your favourite?
In terms of achievements, the game sits at an unusual 49, with the standard 1000 gamerscore. Some of these will come naturally, from finishing missions
or by killing lots of enemies
. You'll be encouraged to take part in everything Rubrum has to offer, from exploring the towns
, to even becoming a master breeder of chocobos by hatching 100
of the little guys. The largest earning achievement is 80G for finishing the story
, whilst others may require a potential second playthrough (but with a new game + type feature this shouldn't prove too hard).
For a game that started its life on the PSP, it plays very well of the Xbox One. Whilst it may not be perfect and the graphics might not be as nice as some Xbox One games, there's plenty here to keep you entertained and busy for a lot of hours. With the potential of a second playthrough to get all the achievements, there's also a high replayability value. With a wide choice of characters and variation of weapons, there's bound to be a play style to suit everyone. This is not only a game for veterans of Final Fantasy
to have a go at, but for gamers new to the franchise to sink their teeth into.
- Big choice of characters and weapon styles
- Graphics could have been upgraded better
The reviewer spent just over 23 hours completing her first playthrough, getting to grips with the fourteen different cadets, fighting enemies and breeding a lot of chocobos, popping a hefty 46 of the 49 achievements. An Xbox One version of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.