Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together Review

If you've ever played an SRPG, you know what to expect from Tactics Ogre with one crazy awesome addition. You move your units around a battlefield, attacking, defending and healing one at a time. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, and getting to know them inside and out is the only way you'll be successful. What sets Tactics Ogre apart, though, is the Chariot Tarot system. This allows the player to rewind the battle at any time and restart, without penalty, at any given move or action. For example, let's say you move Catiua, a healer with low defense and melee ratings, a bit too close to the action. After three turns, an enemy swoops in and cuts her down. What would mean a quick reset of the PSP in any other game becomes a learning experience here, and the Chariot Tarot allows you to go back to when you moved Catiua and relocate her, keeping her out of harm's way. As you move units, rewind and move them again, the Chariot Tarot will automatically keep track of the branching paths of the battle based on your moves, and the whole system is so brilliant, so easy to use, that I am inclined to give this game a perfect score just for this aspect alone. Ok, hardcore SRPGers, calm down; I'm not as good at this type of game as you are, and this system helps those of us who need it. I commend players for not having to use the rewind, but for those of us who do need it, it's absolutely incredible.

When it comes to time, Tactics Ogre both wins and loses depending on how you look at things. It wins in the longevity category; a super speed run of the game would probably come in at 50 hours, where an average playthrough will take 80-100 hours if you do and see it all. Conversely, it loses on the portability side of things. Each battle can take up to 20 minutes at least, or over an hour at most, and this doesn't fit very well in a portable game. I know the PSP has a sleep mode, but more intricate battle strategies require careful, move by move planning, and putting the game down for awhile almost ensures you'll forget what you were going for. I figure there are some gamers who have minds like steel traps, but if I play a bit in the morning and return to it after work, I have no idea what I was planning to do earlier that day.

When it comes down to assigning a score to Tactics Ogre, things are a bit more difficult to nail down. The story and the Chariot Tarot make this one of the top PSP games, just behind the Patapon series as the platform's best. The dated, throwback graphics and often too-long battles put a ding or two in the game's armor, but are largely forgivable. What you are getting with Tactics Ogre is a beautifully told story, a game that plays quite well and, truth be told, is accessible to everyone thanks to the Chariot Tarot system. The PSP may be on its way out and it's a shame this game came along so late in the system's life. But if you've still got your PSP, give this one a few hours. You'll be hooked.

Final Rating: 92%.

 



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