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E3 2014 Must Buy: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

The stage was set for a disappointing showcase for Square Enix at E3 this year. No Final Fantasy XV. No Kingdom Hearts III. While Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was a shoe-in, it has been out for some time, so there was nothing to make me exactly giddy (and personally I don’t play MMORPGs anyway). The last thing I expected to see was my hopes and dreams for Square Enix’s E3 conference fulfilled.

But like Moses parting the Red Sea, a miracle was delivered: Final Fantasy Type-0, released three years ago for the recently discontinued PlayStation Portable, is finally being given the Western release it deserves. Receiving full HD treatment, Final Fantasy Type-0 will curiously forgo a PlayStation Vita release and jump ship to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While that particular decision was debated, I am perfectly content with what we’re receiving.

But why is it a “must buy”? It is, after all, an HD remake of a portable title being questionably shifted to consoles. Simply put, Final Fantasy Type-0 is heralded as one of the best Final Fantasy games released in the last decade. Sure, reviews don’t always mean a game is good or bad, but it is an indicator. In the case of Final Fantasy, which has gradually lost steam and popularity over the years, it’s certainly refreshing to see an overwhelming flurry of positive reviews.

 

Final Fantasy Type-0 flames

Critical reception aside, this game has a lot going for it. Retaining its focus on the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology (from its day when it was known as Final Fantasy Agito XIII), Final Fantasy Type-0 deals with the familiar theme of crystals while weaving in the concept of the l’Cie, arguably the most intriguing aspect of Final Fantasy XIII’s backstory. Though I have not played the game (even with its ironically-timed English fan patch), what I have discovered about its plot has me intrigued.

The gameplay, while more action-oriented, has also been hailed as retaining some of the series’ old-school elements, which is always a plus. Drawing inspiration from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII may not be the most exciting of prospects, but given the latter’s combat system managed to deliver, I am willing to accept that Final Fantasy Type-0 offers a healthy blend of the old and the new.

Really, though, the selling point is the name (as much as I hate to admit it). Despite its waning quality, Final Fantasy is still a trusted brand, and while I have grown skeptical of games venerated with that title as of late, the immense popularity of Final Fantasy Type-0 in Japan gives me high hopes that this is finally a game worthy of the prestigious title. Given Square Enix’s growing concern over how localizations are managed, it is also comforting we may see this title handled with more care than previous titles in the franchise.

Final Fantasy Type-0 behemoth

A growing, increasingly expressed complaint I’ve had with Square Enix is how poorly it has handled its flagship franchise. Final Fantasy XIII was rushed through production and criticized for it. Its sequels scrambled to appease fans by doing 180-degree turns on linearity, to mixed success. The original Final Fantasy XIV was such a debacle that the entire project was scrapped. The fated Final Fantasy XV has had a ridiculous development cycle with still no end in sight. Final Fantasy Type-0, the one game in the series in the past five years that was acclaimed by almost every major publication that reviewed it, wasn’t even given a Western release.

At least now one of those missteps can be scratched off the list (really two, since Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn corrected its predecessor’s mistakes). While I am inexplicably excited about finally getting my hands on this game, it is equally relieving to see Square Enix righting the wrongs of the past gaming generation. After so long, it’s also nice to see the game will be receiving an upgrade rather than a direct port, something that could have been easily achieved by releasing it for Vita.

Very little information has been given on the HD remake thus far, as the news was tacked on to the end of the Final Fantasy Agito Western release trailer (something else I’m thrilled to play), but given all I already know about this game after its three-year tenure in Japan, there is plenty to excite me. I won’t lie: there was a lot that came out of E3 this year that had me frothing on the mouth, but Final Fantasy Type-0 is easily the one I’ve waited the longest for. For once, I feel confident a game will live up to the hype.



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