Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
The turned based strategy genre hasn’t had a lot of love over the years. Yes, we get the odd gem here and there, but never a consistent stream of releases to keep long time fans occupied as well as bringing newcomers to the fold. When such a game does come along, it can be quite refreshing and even more so if it manages to introduce the genre to the uninitiated gamer. Square-Enix’s latest PSP release is Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together; a remake of the classic 1990s Super Famicom title. Thankfully, this game not only will bring up fond memories of past superstars of the genre, it offers enough content that those who have never touched a turned-based strategy-RPG can find something to enjoy if they are willing to invest the time.
Tactics Ogre puts you in the role of Davel Pavel, a member of a resistance force on the Valerian Isles. The three different groups of people that encompasses the land used to live together under their great leader; but with his passing, they are now entrenched with strife over who has rightful claim of the lands. Two of the primary factions have split the lands amongst themselves while Daval’s people, the third faction, is stuck in the crosshairs and are trying to lay rightful claim to their own piece. As Daval and his group of resistance fighters, it’s your decisions which will shape the future of Valeria. Do you fight for your people and try to build peace or are you willing to sacrifice your friends and family in order to reign over everything?
For those who have played the original game - or any of the various Final Fantasy Tactics games for that matter - Tactics Ogre is a very similar affair. If you haven’t, what this game encompasses are grid-based levels in which your party of characters must do battle against various opposition. Your team, made up of different character classes, will take turns with the enemies, move around the battlefield, casting spells or attacking from either close or long range.
Where the strategy comes in is how you tackle each mission. In most cases, your primary objective is to eliminate one specific target. While there are always more than a handful of foes in front of you, a mission can be as long or short depending on how much time is spent disposing of one specific enemy.
A cool aspect of turn based strategy games like this comes at the hands of how you decide to create your party. Some missions are played on flat surfaces, which favor melee and close combat fighting. Then there are those which incorporate elevation where having a good selection of ranged fighters will be almost a necessity as damage from afar will lead to your success. Even weather comes into play, so even if you have ranged units, if the wind is blowing too strong, the accuracy can suffer.
For those new to the genre, Tactics Ogre incorporates a Chariot system which let’s you "rewind" up to 50 moves and try again. If you do the same move, the subsequent attacks will stay the same so when you use this, you really are using it to try a different strategy.
Another interesting aspect to Tactics Ogre is its branching story. Throughout your lengthy journey, there will be many situations where your decision will alter the future of the game. Even more so, your actions on the battlefield with story related characters can also change the course of the adventure. Let someone die and you won’t fail the mission but their usefulness later in the game does perish with them. This branching and open story really gives off the impression of this being your own, unique aventure.
In other Strategy-RPG games, your squad often felt like your family as you would build them up together and they would fight as a single force. That isn’t the case here. Instead of leveling up characters individually, you improve characters classes and there is almost no uniqueness to most of the cast. Because of that, if a character falls three times over the course of the game, they are lost forever. Since this will certainly happen as you play, you can easily hire another character in their place and continue on as if nothing happened. The only setback comes from having to re-spec that new character’s skills; which isn’t too difficult to do once you obtain enough skill points after one or two battles.
If your new to the genre, while there is a lot to learn and it takes some time to get used to the nuances of each class, the difficulty is gradual and the Chariot system’s trail-and-error does make things slightly more easier and enjoyable. Another aid that exists for new players is the ability to add AI assists to your specific squad characters. This modification puts the AI in charge and those characters will act a certain way on the battlefield. This is both a good and bad thing since while it does help to speed up the game, sometimes their decisions isn’t always smart or logical. In some situations, it might be safer to pay close attention and turn this feature on and off throughout a battle in-case they do something you wouldn’t have done had you been controlling that specific character.
AI is probably the weakest aspect of the game. In most cases, your foes are quite predictable; they will go after your weakest character, quite often your Mage or Cleric, which leaves their own leader vulnerable. While you may lose a weaker character early on, their stupidity in failing to protect their leader leads to you completing a mission in less time than it should. Mind you, this isn’t always the case, but if you play each mission correctly, a mission that should be a long and challenging affair ends up only taking a fraction of the time.
Considering this is the third version of the game, the work done to remake it for the PSP is quite admirable. While the characters and level designs still retain a very 16-bit era feel, the redone orchestral score is absolutely fantastic. The music works on so many different levels and really encompasses every part of the game. With the top-notch music, you can look past the graphics which while not ugly, can’t compare to what the audio brings to the table.
Lastly, Tactics Ogre is by no means a short title and do expect to invest a good chunk of time if you hope to see the conclusion. This length is prolonged thanks in part to the game’s deep yet very "wordy" story. There will be times when you can expect to tap through quite a few lines of dialogue before the next battle sequence. For those people used to this sort of thing, this is nothing new, but if you’re new to these types of games, hopefully it doesn’t detract from the fun combat about to be had.
For those looking for a challenging and engaging experience which will take up a good chunk of your life, then Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is what you’re craving. At the same time, if you are looking to get into the genre and don’t know where to start, Square-Enix has done a great job of easing you into the mix and giving you the tools to enjoy yourself without the sacrificing the overall experience.
+ Chariot System allows you to retry in-game situations without having to restart a mission
+ Orchestral Score does a wonderful job of adding atmosphere
+ Easy to get into; great for newcomers to the series...
- Story can be a bit intimidating since it is very deep
- AI decision making isn’t always that logical
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Release Date : 2011/02/15
System : PSP
Publisher : Square Enix
Developer : ARTDINK
Category : Action-RPG
ESRB : T
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