TGS 2011: Final Fantasy Type-0 hands-on preview

Watching the opening cutscene of Final Fantasy Type-0, we were immediately struck by how brutal it feels compared to other Final Fantasy games – it definitely doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war. From the start, there’s blood everywhere as soldiers lay dead or dying on the battlefield, and we see a man stab a wounded enemy through the chest with a sword in graphic detail, making a sickeningly gory noise and blood spurts out. People die in FF games for sure, but usually not in a way that feels so real.

In fact, it wouldn’t have felt like a Final Fantasy game at all had it not been for the Chocobo that featured prominently throughout the first scene. Early on, we see the Chocobo rush to the side of his wounded human partner, when moments later an enemy soldier spots them and brutally shoots the Chocobo point-blank. The Chocobo collapses with his mortal wound, and the soldier, named Izana, lies with his head on his loyal friend’s body as they both slowly bleed out.

Izana reflects on his faithful friend Chichiri for what feels like minutes – slow deaths are really the worst. At one point, the Chocobo cries out for help for his companion, and the sound is painful to hear. It’s a bit of a spoiler to even talk about it since knowing about it beforehand might detract from the emotional impact of the scene, but it was easily one of the most heart-wrenching opening cinemas to any game we’ve ever seen (you can see part of it here, if you don’t mind having it spoiled).

After that emotional ton of bricks, we quickly had to pull ourselves together to switch gears and jump ahead to a gameplay section. Type-0’s action mechanics gave us no time to rest either – you won’t see any battle menus here. All the actions are mapped to buttons, and the basic flow of combat consists of locking on to an enemy with the auto-targeting and hitting it with either a physical weapon attack or a magic attack.

At any time you can switch which party member you’re controlling, so we tried each one out to get a feel for the different weapons. Of the first two we tried, one was a ranged attack, good for dodging enemy attacks and getting some quick hits in from afar, and the other was a powerful spear for closer melee attacks. The other two party members are AI controlled (there were three party members total), and during our demo they seemed quite useful, especially when it came time to heal.

During our brief mission we fought not only other soldiers but a few giant monsters too, and it reminded us that the gameplay actually feels quite similar to The 3rd Birthday (review here). So if you think auto-targeting might make an action game too easy, that’s probably not the case – The 3rd Birthday featured a similar auto-lock combat system and it was quite challenging even on easy mode.

Since Type-0’s name and console change (it was originally announced as Final Fantasy Agito XIII for mobile phones), it’s not clear whether it’s still being released outside of Japan. Despite the PSP’s decline in popularity outside of Japan, it would be shame if this didn’t see wider release though – perhaps Square Enix could offer this as a download for the Vita to drum up more western sales? If anything develops on this front, we’ll let you know.

Sep 21, 2011

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