Just because a game is on a portable device doesn't make it any less of an experience than home console titles. We've seen plenty of amazing titles on the handheld scene, like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, God of War: Ghost of Sparta and more. In fact, JRPGs have been blossoming quite well, more so on the PSP and DS than on home consoles themselves. We've seen what Square Enix are capable of with games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and the latest to hit store shelves, The 3rd Birthday. This is exactly why Final Fantasy Type-0 stands a much better chance to impress fans than Final Fantasy XIII ever did.
Set in the realm of Orience, a power struggle throws four nations into a raging war. What we know so far is that these four regions each have a key infrastructure called a Peristylium and the characters we've seen are students from the Peristylium of Suzaku. Much more akin to the narratives under the Ivalice umbrella, like Final Fantasy Tactics and XII, Type-0 seems like a far more mature title and nothing shows that better than the most recent trailer. From the grittiness of war, gallons of blood and mass killings, this isn't a Final Fantasy for the light hearted. The scope of the game is described as flippin' massive, it's so big that it's going to be released on two UMDs. It's even its own self-contained series, within a series. It's just like Inception!
Famitsu and Dengeki have revealed bits and pieces of the battle system, describing it as a healthy combination of Crisis Core and The 3rd Birthday. Combat looks fast paced with the game letting you form a party of three and even switch between them as the situation calls. The magazines also speak of a gauge that builds up as you use abilities, presumably not unlike the Linkage/Crossfire gauge seen in The 3rd Birthday. This will no doubt introduce a level of strategy to the flow of battle. As for multiplayer, it looks like players will be able to hop into a friend's game and help them should they fall in battle. It's pretty exciting just thinking about the possibilities. Unfortunately, while multiplayer will more than likely work like a charm in Japan and Asia, it's too bad that the West does not share the same local multiplayer culture.
While the game may have changed names, the Agito moniker still plays a pretty big role in the game's lore. Legends speak of a hero that descended upon the world and saved it from a calamity that shook its very foundations. Said hero was called Agito and, apparently, the students of Suzaku are gunning for the role. It's not an unfamiliar plot for a Final Fantasy game, which is exactly why it's going to work.
We've all seen the amazing visuals of The 3rd Birthday. It's undoubtedly one of the prettiest games to grace Sony's handheld and I believe it's pretty safe to say Final Fantasy Type-0, led by the same team headed up by Hajime Tabata, will be no different. The trailers already look pretty darn amazing. Both cutscenes and in-game events have an astounding level of visual fidelity that any graphics-maniac can appreciate.
So silence naysayers, unlike Final Fantasy XIII, Square Enix has plenty of experience with the PSP. I'm personally quite excited to see where they go with Final Fantasy Type-0. Not only does it look great, the gameplay looks like some good solid action RPG fun. The multiplayer will certainly be interesting to see. A good amount of people don't particularly enjoy the fact that Square Enix makes games on the PSP, especially when the most common complaint I've heard is "I can't afford a PSP," but that doesn't change the fact that these games are just as good as any other big title on home consoles.
The game is out Summer 2011 in Japan. Hopefully we'll see it by the end of the year over here in the West.