Let’s start this off with the one thing everyone’s actually interested in: a picture of the Chocobo courier for Dota 2.
With that out of the way: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, everyone!
This is another Final Fantasy title with a bit of an odd history, spanning multiple platforms. Final Fantasy Type-0 was originally called Final Fantasy Agito XIII, was originally for PSP and mobile phones, and was one of the original trilogy of Final Fantasy XIII games (Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Agito XIII, and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, collectively part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series which spans several other games). Then, all of that changed. Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV, and Agito XIII was reworked as Type-0 with the planned mobile version dropped.
Don’t worry if that seems long, convoluted, and ridiculous. Long-term Final Fantasy fans are depressingly used to this sort of thing, but that hardly means it’s a good thing.
Anyway: Type-0 never made it out of Japan, likely for a variety of reasons. Those most commonly cited are that the PSP wasn’t massively popular in the west, and that it was a costly game to produce, spread as it was across two UMDs.
But! This wasn’t the end of it. It was reworked, again, as Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, an HD re-release of the game for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which was released back in March by a company named HexaDrive. Then it got a PC release, which is what we’re talking about here. The PC version also bears the HexaDrive markings, although I have no idea if they developed this port themselves, or if that’s just because of their work on the HD version. Unfortunately, finding out who actually developed a port can be a tricky task.
Oh, and Type-0 is one of the very, very few Final Fantasy games I’ve never actually played before, so for once I’m going in blind.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a bit of an oddity among the series. I mean, every Final Fantasy game makes tweaks to the fundamental mechanics in some ways, whether it’s the Job system of Final Fantasy V, the Materia of Final Fantasy VII, or the Gambits of Final Fantasy XII. But Type-0 is a real-time action game reliant on directly controlling your chosen character – movement, dodging, attacking, and timing are all up to you, with the AI handling the remaining two members of your squad.
So let’s download all 25GB, fire it up, and… oh, it’s got a launcher. Time to take a lot of screenshots.
Yup. Seven option menus before you even start the game. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad, honestly; I do love having lots of settings and tweakables, but a few of these are a little sad. The keyboard controls, for instance, don’t appear to be rebindable, and the two “Types” you have just swap around WASD and 4568 – basically alternating which hand controls movement and which hand controls the camera. Perhaps worse is that, judging by those menus, this is another game that is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the existence of the mouse.
We’ll talk about the controls in a bit more depth once I actually fire it up, but for now, let’s look at the graphical settings. In case your eyes glazed over with that flurry of screenshots, that’s this lot:
For the record, here are all of the possible options:
Shadows: Off / Normal / Detailed
Resolution: 1280×720 / 1920×1080
Textures: Low-Res / Normal
Anti-Aliasing: None / Normal / High / Highest
Color Correction: Off / P-Type / D-Type / T-Type
Motion Blur: Off / Weak / Normal / Strong
So, the good: multiple anti-aliasing options, multiple motion blur options (which is something that even native PC games routinely fuck up), and a mysterious colour correction option that probably does something. Here are the colour correction settings:
Apologies for the location of the screenshots but I had to quit out each time to change this, and “pointed at the save point” was pretty much the only place I could easily get almost the exact same screengrab each time. So… yeah. It adjusts the colours slightly. The colour temperature, maybe? I don’t know.
The bad: two resolution settings. Two resolutions? That’s it? Ugh. I’d also prefer it if the anti-aliasing settings were actual anti-aliasing settings, in the sense of FSAA/MSAA and 2x/4x and the like, but I can live with that. Still, resolution aside, I’m maybe a little impressed. This is somewhat better than I’d hoped for after the horrors of Final Fantasy XIII, even if it does manage to typo “Refuse” as “Refuset” at one point in the settings.
I’ll also note out that the prompts that appear on screen are determined by your “Input” choice on the launcher. You can use either keyboard or gamepad in game whenever you like, as far as I can tell but the prompts will not automatically change based on what you’re using. You have to change them there.
So, with everything jacked up to full, let’s fire up the game itself and check the most important thing: what does the escape key do?
Oh for fuck’s sake. Well, at least it’s not automatically dumping me to the desktop.
So, after an extremely long intro full of information that I forgot about almost immediately, with lots of complicated words like AGITO and PERISTYLIUM we’re at the main menu. Fun fact: a peristylium is actually an open area within a building, usually with shaded areas supported by columns. I swear they’re just picking words they think sound cool and then trying to make them mean something else. That, or people literally built four open-air courtyards around some lights. And by lights, they probably mean “crystals.” And… you know what? I’m going to stop trying to make sense of this.
It turns out that there are fairly extensive options on the main menu, although they’re far more limited than the launcher menus. There are no graphical settings, for instance, although you can adjust your camera type and the brightness and so on.
But we’ve covered the options pretty well, so let’s take a look at the actual game. And – horror of horrors – I’m going to play it with mouse and keyboard, because my 360 pad wiring is a little bit knackered and it disconnects if it’s not at the perfect angle.
On starting it up I’m greeted with another incredibly lengthy cutscene, depicting some guy and his Chocobo dying over a period of time so long it actually has timestamps. It would probably be quite moving if I had any idea who he was or any reason to care about him. I mean, it’s relatively well done! I just have absolutely no connection to the guy so it feels like a very manipulative attempt at creating pathos.
Also, wow. That’s more blood than I was expecting to see in a Final Fantasy game. I guess the promise that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD had more blood than the original is true.
The cutscene comes to a close as some white-haired prettyboy shows up (and completely breaks any sense of atmosphere as the credits proudly tell me the theme song is by a band called “Bump of Chicken”), and then I’m into the game. And by “the game” I mean “slideshow-o-vision”, because it’s rocketing along at a massive 18FPS. Time to quit out and adjust the graphics.
I have no idea why my computer (i7-3820, 16GB RAM, 2GB GTX 670) can’t handle this, but according to reclusive wise man of the internet Peter Parrish, the “Highest” anti-aliasing setting “runs it at 4K resolution or something.” Sure enough, dropping it from Highest to High fixes the framerate issues. Hooray.
[Peter: Hello readers! To be a little more precise, the top AA setting automatically downsamples from 4K and adds a bunch of costly post-processing effects. At least that’s what I’ve read. Okay, back to Tim’s impressions …]
The next hurdle in the way of actually playing the game is the controls, because – as you doubtless predicted – the mouse and keyboard controls are laughably inept. Let’s leave the mouse to one side for a moment, which means that you’re controlling movement with WASD and the camera with 4568. And then trying to dodge attacks with Backspace. And hitting people with F.
The key bindings are bloody awful, basically, and it’s doing that “map controller buttons rather than functions directly to the keyboard” thing. This is presumably why Backspace is dodge: it’s the B button. This mean it’s your cancel and exit menu key (what with Escape instantly trying to close the game), and that’s kind of okay, but it also does all the other things the B button does. Like dodge. When you have one hand on WASD and the other on the numpad. Gnng.
The mouse does not improve matters. As mentioned above, I initially assumed that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD‘s reaction to the mouse would be to stick its fingers in its ears and shout LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A MOUSE, but it actually does support the mouse! Just, y’know, extremely badly.
Moving the mouse does nothing but move your cursor around the screen. Left-clicking moves you in the general position of the mouse cursor (if the cursor is at the very top of the screen you’ll move in that direction, etc). Scrolling the mouse wheel rotates the camera. And to rotate the camera with the mouse movement itself, you have to hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse, but this appears to have a delay of about half a second before it notices you’re holding down the button. This means it’d be incredibly annoying in any game, and fundamentally useless in a fast-paced action game. Particularly when you need to press Backspace to dodge.
Things are significantly better with my poor dying 360 pad, and that’s saying something considering it turns off if I move the cable slightly… but I still have to quit out to change the tutorial’s button display from keyboard to gamepad.
Oh, and did I mention the game is locked at 30FPS? Because it is, obviously. I don’t want to harp on this too much because I’d imagine the game is pretty heavily tied to that framerate, as with an awful lot of PC ports, but this isn’t like Way of the Samurai 4‘s entirely serviceable 30FPS. It feels a bit slow and a bit clunky, and it still occasionally drops below that hard cap, resulting in quite an unpleasant experience – particularly with the rapid swinging of the lock-on camera.
Bizarrely, that wasn’t the end of my framerate woes. A section just before the first save point covers the area in a dark fog and has you come under attack from mysterious assailants, and this murdered my framerate once again, meaning I’m probably going to have go and lower the detail settings further.
So! Final Fantasy Type-0 HD‘s PC port is a bit shit. It’s nowhere near the sewage treatment facility levels of shit that Final Fantasy XIII managed, but that hardly makes it look good. The mouse and keyboard controls are unplayable and seemingly un-rebindable, the game is locked at 30FPS and only offers two resolution options (though can at least downsample from 4K, even if that option is hidden inside anti-aliasing) and the optimisation seems to be really rather bad.
The game itself has a few problems, too; my brief experience has left me hating the lock-on camera, with its swoopy nature making it hard to get a grasp on where everything is on the battlefield. But I’m still disappointed with the quality of the port, because the combat itself seems varied, entertaining, and actually quite challenging, and the plot – which appears to revolve around war, young soldiers, and the loss of innocence – looks to be a damn sight more interesting than the usual fluff. Until it inevitably devolves into nonsense about magic crystals and gods and the fate of the world or something, anyway.
I actually want to keep playing Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, and I will probably do so. But I’m going to have to sort out my pad, lower the graphical settings, and come to terms with a few of the port’s other quirks if I hope to make any real headway in it.