At the time of Tactics Ogre‘s original release, the strategy RPG genre wasn’t exactly a powerhouse. The Fire Emblem games hadn’t left Japan, Final Fantasy Tactics wasn’t around yet and Shining Force didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Now, though, these games are everywhere, and the PSP is the metropolis in which they all seem to gather. Somehow, though, the game stands the test of time and the modern competition.
In the game, you and your tight-knit crew of fighters take on increasingly overpowered and rather unfairly positioned armies, making decisions along the way and trying to make the world a peaceful place. The core gameplay is a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, which makes sense since this game is its spiritual predecessor. The real difference here is the sheer breadth of choice available. Each character has many stats, many equippable skills, many classes to change to and… well, there’s just a lot you can do. In addition, you can make legitimate plot decisions in the game too, and none of them is really the “right” way to go. It’s rather open-ended, and while many will enjoy being awash in such freedom, some will be over their heads and drown in the complexity.
Visually, the game doesn’t impress, as many elements from the SNES original are intact, but menu systems and other polished elements make everything seem as much like a modern product as it’s going to.
Unlike many remakes, Tactics Ogre includes some streamlining elements that make things a bit more manageable. Units level up by class rather than individually, which makes keeping a balanced team a lot easier and replacing dead units a less painful endeavor. Besides that, there’s a new system called CHARIOT, which essentially auto-saves the last 50 turns so players can rewind and try again. In a genre known for making use of the reset button as a core mechanic, this is very refreshing.
Despite the streamlining, Tactics Ogre isn’t the most accessible game for genre newbies, but for players that love strategy games, this one will make them the happiest.
Pros: Incredible depth, engrossing story, polished interface
Cons: Oh-no-so-much-to-do-I-can’t-breathe syndrome