Game Music, Reviews

Beginning a New and Excitingly Different Story: Final Fantasy Type-0 (Review)

October 27, 2011 | | 7 Comments Share thison Facebook Beginning a New and Excitingly Different Story: Final Fantasy Type-0 (Review)on Twitter

While Final Fantasy Type-0 is out in just days in Japan (October 27), there’s still no word on a release date outside of Japan. I’m pretty sure it will come, however, as Square Enix has stated that they’re hoping to turn Type-0 into a franchise of its own.

With music by Takeharu Ishimoto, fans have wanted to hear more from the game, and we have been able to listen to the preview disc and unbox the limited edition soundtrack for you. We now have the three-disc soundtrack here in its entirety along with the limited edition DVD.

Find out if it’s a worthy addition to the Final Fantasy franchise in our review after the jump.

First off, track titles for the game haven’t been translated into English yet, so I’m going to speak in rather broad terms regarding the soundtrack. That’s actually okay though, as I think this soundtrack more than most is suited for this kind of discussion.

Let’s start by talking about the main theme, which makes up approximately a quarter of the tracks on the album. Yes, you’re going to hear it a lot in various forms, and you’ll be hearing it a whole lot on the first disc in particular. Thankfully, it’s a strong and memorable theme. One of the strongest I’ve heard in a game in some time, and it even has a decisive Western sound about it. While it appears in nearly every emotional context imaginable, my favorites have to be the full bombastic orchestral and choir version and the heavy metal version, both on the first disc. I also dig the playful factory-esque industrial version with chugging percussion and lots of synth work and the reflective version that’s featured before taking the plunge into the final battle.

On the topic of the orchestral/choir and rock tracks, while most of the music on the album in orchestral in style (a lot of it is even recorded live, upping the album’s sound quality stats significantly), there is plenty of rock music to be heard. It’s kind of funny to note that when we interviewed Square Enix’s staff composers at their offices back in February, I mentioned that Ishimoto’s style was ‘rock,’ to which he was very puzzled. There will be tracks that will remind you of his work on Crisis Core, and even tracks that sound like something Akira Yamaoka would write for a Silent Hill title.

If I had to describe the Final Fantasy Type-0 soundtrack in a word, though, it would be ‘heavy.’ The two major styles represented are orchestral and alternative rock, but one thing you’ll notice across the entire three-disc set is that there doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of range, as intense action cues with lots of bass and crashing percussion pull the album down into the more serious and intense range of the spectrum. With that, I can say that a few tracks will stand out, but the majority didn’t really keep my interest. The ones with the main theme will at least have that memorable segment, but I have to say that most of the music seems to be mood setting and won’t have you humming as you go on with your day.

There are a few excursions, including what sounds to be a mischievous town theme that uses playful percussion and instrumentation while incorporating bits of the main theme. Later, a whimsical string piece accented by harpsichord and piano stands out mainly for sounding almost out of place with its cheerful nature. I would have thought it was a track for a World of Goo or A Boy and His Blob level with its jubilant sound. There are also two lovely piano arrangements found on the third disc that are somber in mood and are a nice surprise.

I do want to take a moment to mention the arrangements of classic Final Fantasy tunes that Ishimoto has incorporated into the soundtrack. There are several tracks, although they don’t start appearing until about half way through the first disc. There’s a pretty straightforward take on the series “Prelude,” with the addition of lots of reverb and deep percussion to match what’s heard elsewhere on the album. Next up is a playful orchestral version of “Mog’s Theme,” which was a huge surprise and quite a treat to hear. Then there’s the most epic version orchestral of the chocobo theme that you’ll ever hear. It’s masterfully written as a powerful march, sounding like something Hitoshi Sakimoto would have put together. An airy versio also follows, giving a more straightforward take on the theme. Before all’s said and done, you’ll also hear a brief cameo by the “Final Fantasy” theme.

Oh, and don’t forget about the hidden track. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s a drastic departure from everything else that’s featured on this album, and will truly provide one of those “WTF?” moments. That’s not say it isn’t good though.

The included DVD features a teaser movie, a game trailer, and two cinematics from the game, providing for quite a lot of material to watch. I know fans would have liked some kind of behind the scenes of the orchestral recording sessions, but it’s not here. I have to say though that the cinematics have me more excited for the game than even the soundtrack in its entirety did. Be warned though, there is a dead, bloodied chocobo in the videos and parental discretion is advised!

We’ve already covered the album packaging at great length, so I would refer you to our unboxing video and simply say “It’s great” here. You can pick the album up at CD Japan, as they have 12 copies of the Limited Edition left as of the time I’m preparing this review. It’s only 500 yen more, so may as well go for it if you’re interested.

What do you think of Final Fantasy Type-0’s heavier and more serious tone? Which version will you be picking up, and are you with me in thinking that Ishimoto’s style is rock based on his work on The World Ends With You and Crisis Core?

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