With the last Final Fantasy game on the PSP being a fighting game with role-playing game elements, gamers have been clamoring for a real RPG from the revered franchise for their portable system. Square Enix recently showed off about 20 minutes of new gameplay footage from the upcoming action RPG Final Fantasy Type-0 during the Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy tournament held over the weekend in Japan. Game director Hajime Tabata was commentating during the showing to give viewers an insight into the recent build.
As we covered before, the Suzaku school of magic will be the main character's base of operations in Final Fantasy Type-0. Your character, called Rem, is able to walk around the school corridors to converse with students or even delve into the history of the game's universe. At the bottom right of the screen is a counter that determines how long until the next mission starts. Players can also kill time by exploring random locations on the world map and travel there via airship for the purpose of grinding and leveling up. Tabata did just that and picked a yet-to-be-named snow field area.
As soon as Rem set foot on the field, she was greeted by random monsters ready to put her six feet under. Luckily, she had two other fighters accompanying her. Much of the combat that was shown here was already described in our previous write-up, though Tabata stressed that combat will be very dependent on magic; so much so that every kill will net Rem and company with phantoma energy that recovers a bit of their mana points. Players can also use this energy to customize and upgrade their character's magic.
Tabata then showed off one of the highlights of the game: the battle zones. While controlling Rem on the world map, some areas will be contested in real time by invading troops from different countries. During Tabata's play-through, Rem could either head straight to the mission or help out her fellow Rubrum countrymen and cast a few spells on the opposing army. Once a group of enemies in that area were vanquished, it returned to a normal unconquered state. Tabata then headed off to the mission point northeast that took place in a war-ridden town, selected his party members (Rem, the scythe-bearing Sice and sword-wielding Queen), and headed off to battle.
During the many fights he encountered with enemy soldiers and mechs in the demo, he showed off an instant kill move players could activate whenever a red indicator mark appeared on top of their heads. This usually happens when they leave an opening after an attack. This is useful to kill off weaker enemies, especially when you factor in the enemy commanders that usually accompany mobs during these skirmishes.
Midway through the mission, Tabata decided to show off the summoning system. Players can summon a giant creature and control its every move to help even the odds at the cost of sacrificing their current teammate. In this case, Tabata sacrificed the scythe wielder known as Sice to bring out the physically imposing and hard-hitting Golem. The giant summon was more than a match for the onscreen enemies as it just trampled onto enemies with little to no effort. Against the bigger mechs, Tabata launched the Golem's spherical hands to destroy them.
Just like your party members, you can switch the Golem's control to the AI and resume control over your other diminutive party members. Keep in mind, however, that the Golem will disappear after 40 seconds. The decision to trade in short-term hard-hitting power at the cost of a teammate posed an interesting dilemma: Should we sacrifice one of our party members for that sudden burst of power against a difficult group of enemies or tough it out until we reached the last legs of a mission where a giant boss could be waiting?
Tabata also explained that during each mission a player undergoes, anyone with a PSP and a copy of the game can join in a mission online as long as the player has multiplayer support turned on before a mission. Because some of the tougher missions would be easier with teamwork, it's usually up to players if they wish to have some cooperation elements during their sessions. To cap off the presentation, the director showed off a particularly cool segment where players could fly a combat airship and blast enemy ships on the world map. It's was unclear whether or not we would encounter airborne foes bigger than the ships, but this segment is indeed a huge improvement over other side attractions from previous Final Fantasy games (Blitzball and Tetra Master, anyone?)
With summon attacks, multiplayer opportunities, team-based combat, and even a few elements of risk mixed in the game's overworld segments, it's clear that Square Enix is upping the ante in terms of creating an action RPG to go head-to-head with the likes of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. Unlike the previous venture, Lords of Arcana, Final Fantasy Type-0 is anything but a shameless copy of the action RPG trope set by Capcom's current meal ticket. As a result, the game seems to be shaping up to be its own handheld beast. Fans of the series will have to wait until the second quarter of 2011 to get their hands on the Japanese copy of the game.