Dungeons & Dragons: Tactics Review

Many people were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dungeons and Dragons: Tactics to store shelves. In this corner, you had the D&D fans salivating at the prospect of a solid turn based game that would give a more true experience of the game that mirrored the pen and paper version. In the other corner you will find the turn based strategy enthusiasts, salivating at a game that promised strong character customization and plenty of options that would allow them to approach fights as they chose to. Unfortunately both groups were fated to be disappointed by the end result.

Essentially what you are playing when you put this game in your unsuspecting PlayStation Portable is the world's most boring D&D campaign. The story is uninspired, consisting of a threat to a kingdom that could be the end of all you hold dear and it plays out in a fairly standard, by the numbers series of adventures. Your main hero will lead a party of up to eleven other misfits to save his kingdom although you can only bring six at a time into combat with you (including your hero). This leaves you with five guys on the sidelines should you get the bug to change up your party.

When you put the game in the first thing you will notice is the ungodly load times, get used to these. The initial load that brings you to the start menu can take up to a full minute at times and some of the other load times are just as bad. This is a problem that never goes away. From here you are given the option to start a new campaign with a party of pre-generated characters or to make a new team all of your own design. This is probably the strongest part of the game, and at the same time a major failing. Let's talk about the good side of it first.

Put literally, you can make just about anything you could want to play in a basic Dungeons and Dragons game, from a noble Elven ranger to a surly half-Orc barbarian. However, as an added bonus they even let you use two of the psychic classes: the Psychic Warrior, a fighter type character who uses psychic abilities to back up his combat skills, and the Psion, essentially a mage type character using psychic abilities instead of actual magic. These two classes add a unique spin to the game not found in other current D&D games, even the memorable Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series.

A major problem is the lack of clear documentation for this game. There is no way for you to plan out what sort of character you want to play ahead of time. When making a character in pen and paper D&D you have the books telling you what stats you need to take certain skills. There is no such information in this game. So when making a character if you do not give him specific attributes you may never know that if he had one more point of dexterity he could take a skill to let him dodge attacks better. Without this it is very hard to create the character you want, especially since some skills were wholly removed from the game and you cannot just consult a D&D book for help.