The Final Fantasy Type-0 HD demo on display at the Tokyo Game Show ran smoothly, and had the luxury of a dual-analog control setup. Unfortunately, that ended up working against the demo as it was that much easier to spot the flaws in it. The playable build Square Enix had brought with them was simply not very optimized for playing on the PlayStation 4 yet.
The demo had players lead a team comprising three members of Class Zero—Ace, Rem and Sice—as they attempt to infiltrate a Byakko facility, which deploys mechanized beasts, golems, and rifle-wielding foot soldiers to stop your intrusion. As I acclimatized myself to the controls upon starting up the demo, the first thing I noticed was that the camera moved way too fast for it to be natural when you try to spin it around with the right analog stick.
Originally, players used the PSP’s D-pad to swerve the camera around in Final Fantasy Type-0. In Type-0 HD, you use the PS4’s right analog stick instead, and that felt unnatural right from the get-go, most likely due to the switch from a digital control mechanism (the D-pad) to an analog one. When I played Final Fantasy Type-0 on my PS Vita, this camera control issue was present as well, but was much less noticeable, due to the Vita’s right analog stick featuring a lesser degree of analog movement.
Other than the camera controls, everything else was a perfect fit for the DualShock 4. You control movement with the left analog stick, and switch between your three current party members by hitting left or right on the D-pad. Items can be used by hitting down on the D-pad. L1 resets the camera. R1 toggles on and off an enemy lock-on mechanism. The DualShock 4’s four face buttons are mapped to four different attacks or spells. The X button, specifically, when held down along with a direction on the left analog stick, triggers evasive maneuvers.
Having a nicer control setup was helpful. Back when I played Type-0 on the PSP, the controls felt fairly cramped. Not only did I have to play with the “claw” grip where I had my left index finger scrunched up against the D-pad while my middle finger is on the L shoulder button and my left thumb on the analog nub, but to change characters mid-combat I also had to hold the L button and hit left or right on the D-pad. In Type-0, you’ll find yourself cycling through your three controllable characters very often. Apart from common magic spells that can be equipped to anyone, every character has unique attacks that differ from the others’ in terms of their attack range and start-up speed.
For instance, in the demo, there were foot soldiers aiming down at you from high up on a tower, and these enemies could only be defeated by Ace’s regular attacks (he hurls weaponized playing cards at his foes), as it was the only move in the demo that possessed a long enough effective range to hit. Rem and Sice, on the other hand, are mostly melee attack fighters whose regular moves have a quick start-up time. These moves are extremely useful for performing instant kills, which are possible when you strike an enemy during certain points of their attack animations. A red marker—called a Kill Sight—emerges each time this is possible, but only stays active for a very short amount of time.
Kill Sights will only emerge if you’ve refrained from pelting attacks on your target. If you’ve spammed too many attacks, a target gets “angry”, and the Kill Sights will be replaced by a yellow marker which does a critical amount of damage instead when struck, as opposed to instant kills. While you could certainly hack and slash away to get through most fights, tougher foes may take a lot less time to beat if you and those enemies “take turns” to attack—so that you may observe your target closely for Kill Sight patterns, wait for your enemy to strike, and then capitalize on an opening in its defenses by using an attack that is fast enough to strike during the Kill Sight window.
Unfortunately, in the demo, there were quite a number of situations where you have to face more than one enemy at once, and that’s when the camera issues begin to pop up. Type-0 HD’s camera does a good job with keeping up with the action. There were no slowdowns, and overall it appears to be very responsive. The problem is, there were also plenty of times when the camera would get stuck on an invisible wall, such as when an enemy charges at you and ends up behind you.
This happens a lot in the demo’s boss fight, where a helicopter-esque mecha would fly around and shoot you from behind. When I had the enemy lock turned on, there were times when the boss would completely disappear from my sight as the camera struggled to navigate through the invisible barriers that prevented it from displaying the action from an angle that showed both my player character and the boss enemy properly.
Fortunately, the boss enemy would pause in mid-flight every now and then, and a yellow critical marker would show. By striking the marker with a move, the chopper would temporarily be disabled, allowing the player to deal a massive amount of damage. Ultimately, I was able to finish the entire demo stage with a C rating.
Other odd artifacts present in the demo included background elements, like spears sitting in a wooden rack, flickering for no reason. The demo had also felt incredibly difficult—harder than in the PSP version, in fact, as Ace’s card attacks would occasionally not hit certain enemies (such as the foot soldiers high up on a tower) from ranges that used to work back on the PSP, due to a glitch. These fellows used to be quick and easy kills for Ace.
[Note: Director Hajime Tabata said he has plans to re-adjust the game’s balance, in an interview with Siliconera.]
Judging solely by the demo, it certainly looks like the Final Fantasy Type-0 HD team has their work cut-out for them, as porting the game from PSP to PS4 appears to have introduced a fair share of bugs and glitches. Once they’re addressed, though, the resulting game should be a joy to play through, if my fond memories of playing Type-0 are anything to go by.