A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a fantasy role-playing game about a class of military-academy students drafted into active service. It has surprisingly intense violence for the franchise; this is the first Final Fantasy game to earn an M rating from the ESRB (others have been rated E, E10+, and T). War scenes depict soldiers and civilians being killed in combat, with blood gushing from stab wounds and splattering across the ground as screams ring out. The slow, emotional death of one character plays out over a five-minute sequence. Suggestive themes permeate the story. Female characters are often dressed in revealing clothing, characters flirt with each other, and nonspecific acts of a sexual nature are implied, though never seen.
What's it about?
FINAL FANTASY TYPE-0 HD is a high-definition PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of a game originally available only on PlayStation Portable in Japan. It takes place in a fictional land called Orience, home to a quartet of countries. One of these countries breaks a long-standing truce held among the four, throwing the continent into war. Reeling from the initial attack, the defending nations recruit students from a prestigious military academy. Players take control of these 14 students, choosing which ones to take into short real-time battles set within lengthier missions, switching among them freely to make use of various skills and weapons. Between missions, players explore the school, where they can buy new gear, upgrade spells, and grow their heroes. They also can talk to other students or teachers and take on side quests to earn rewards.
Is it any good?
There's a fun and strategic game at the core of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD -- if you take the time to dig down to it. The combat is complex and challenging to master but ultimately rewarding. It encourages players to be efficient, jumping among characters as enemy types and circumstances demand. Plus, tactical battles that take place on the world map and involve commanding squads of troops moving between cities are a nice change of pace. And with 14 playable characters -- plus fantastically powerful summoned creatures -- there's no shortage of variety.
Sadly, these entertaining battles are buried under ugly presentation, poor storytelling, and an interface originally made for a handheld device that hasn't been properly adapted for consoles. The only parts of the game to noticeably benefit from the HD treatment are some of the character models. Everything else is bland, lifeless, and same-y, and the writing and acting are so embarrassing in places you may feel the need to avert your eyes -- or at the very least skip past the noninteractive narrative scenes. Add in a wickedly quick and jarring camera capable of inducing headaches, and playing may actually become a chore. There's a lot here for fans of Final Fantasy-style combat to sink their teeth into, but the problematic interface and poor storytelling will test their fortitude.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. How would the depiction of teenagers in the roles of soldiers alter the depiction and impact of the violence?
Families also can talk about the depiction of gender in this game. Do you think the female characters are equal to the male characters? Do you think either the male and female characters are dressed appropriately for combat?
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