[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tacticsogre/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Patience yields understanding, or so the saying goes, however can the same be true for video games? In a time when gamers have the attention spans of about 10 minutes, shouldn’t a game grab you from the beginning and never let go? I have a lot of experience with RPG games and I know that if you want to appreciate a RPG you must first get into the storyline. Here at Snackbar in order to fully review a game we usually give the game about 10 hours or so in. This can be a pain, as Soda found himself trying to play a crappy RPG, and suffered for it. I can usually pick a good RPG out from the store and know that it will be a winner, and I will take a chance on one every now and than.
I recently purchased Ogre Tactics for the Gameboy Advance, and I already had an idea of what I was getting myself into. I had played Final Fantasy Tactics when it came out and found myself in love with it. It was by far the oddest Final Fantasy, as the game relied on turn based strategy. Well after a bit of research of the game I saw that it shared many of the same characteristics, so I took the chance. Actually I had Tactics Ogre and Lord of the Rings both in my hands and I asked Manchester U over at EB to pick one… he picked the Tactics route.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tacticsogre/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Tactics Ogre is a turn based Strategy game. The battlefields you play on are laid out in a grid much like chess. Each square of the grid resides on a certain type of terrain, be it snow, water, rock, or whatever and is at different height levels, valleys and peaks. Your party has a chance to move and then perform an action such as attack, use an item, or cast a spell. The strategy here is to position yourself so that your character can best perform an action for example:
[*]You should position archers on higher ground so they can cover more area with their bows.
[*]Always attack an enemy from behind so they cannot counter attack.
[*]Position your healers in the back so they stay out of trouble and can heal at any time.
Basically it’s all about positioning. You will find yourself trying to get to that perfect area in order to not get hit by arrows but also where the enemy will have a hardest time finding you. The computer uses this to its advantage as well. You have mission objectives at the beginning of each battle. Sometimes it is to kill all the enemies, or just a single person. You can bet if the scenario is to kill just one person the level is designed so you will have a bitch of a time to reach him, as the A.I. knows how to position itself and hide.
The game however, is so deep, real deep. Each character has a birth sign and an element. These, of course, work for and against your party. Depending on your birth sign it will affect the amount of damage you take or can dish out, relating to the enemy’s birth sign you are attacking. Also the elemental signs of each character play a similar role. You would be wise to cast ice on a fire elemental. There really are so many ways you can go about playing the game. The best part is that you can customize how you are going to play it. You do this because each character can take so many paths for him and his army. Your troops can be trained to specialize in a class. Case in point if I want a few archers I train some recruits to become great archers and only specialize in that particular class. You can multi-class as well, but I usually stick to trying to master a class. Each army should have ranged attackers, healers, mages, and some tanks (fighters preferably Knights or Dragon Tamers). Of course you must train your character to have the specific pre-requisites. Certain classes must have certain attribute points such as strength, hit points, or emblems. This character customization makes the game as deep as any, and trying to become that prestigious class is oh so hard to do… but damned if it aint fun.
Tactics Ogre’s graphics really shine when you have a light for your GBA. The game features super deformed characters, inspired by anime. Actually a friend of mine told me the characters were cute… don’t know if that is a good thing. The game features a fantastic map system. The climate changes throughout the battle as well, and is displayed remarkably. For a 16 bit game quite a bit of time was spent on presentation. Spells play a big part and the different elements are represented well graphically and in full beautiful color.
This section is reserved for sound, it’s on a freaking GBA… it sounds like crap… moving on.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/tacticsogre/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Control in the game as in all RPGs, is menu based. The game is very responsive but then again there really isn’t anything you do… you pretty much select a move then… well select a square, and you character will trudge on over. However the menus are laid out very well. For those not familiar with “Attack, Item, Magic” RPG menu will find that getting through the system is fairly easy. Of course those of us that are pros will know exactly what to push when, as it becomes automatic.
The game’s challenge is remarkable. Let me put it this way… it is fucking impossible. Tactic’s A.I. is great. When you have an objective of killing one person, you can bet on having a bitch of a time getting to him as he will more than likely have 6 henchmen that heal him and attack for him. I was very impressed on how it works out. The level design is made specifically to give you the hardest route to the enemy, which if you are like me, is always welcome. This of course is a double edge sword. You WILL play a level about 734 times just to beat the man you are supposed to kill, and to be honest, it can become freaking annoying. Challenge is one thing, impossible games are another. I am literally stuck where I am at this one boss level. Naturally I walk about and get into random attacks to level up, yet I still get rocked on this particular level. It has me more pissed off than impressed. I’m sure I will beat it someday… maybe.
The game is fun no doubt, although it could be the longest game to play. Even easy battles take about 20-30 minutes, which can wear on anyone’s patience. Hell I love the RPG world but this game’s random encounters are downright annoying. The customizability is magnificent. It is truly a different game each time you play as you build your army exactly as you want it. I’m sure you will be using the players that join your party via storyline but as for me, I named one character Lancelot (original I know) and made him specifically a knight. He ended up being the most hard ass man in my troop. I’m sure you will like the game if you have patience. I would try it out, but if you have the inkling you might not like a game of this genre or anything like that, then don’t waste your time. This game is hard to call… I would say it’s a buy but that is me personally. This game is truly a middle of the road game as far as you may or may not like it, but what the hell go ahead and get someone to get it for you as a gift.