by Samuel Curd
reviewed on PSP
Epic battles (cntd.)
Troop positioning is very important in Tactics Ogre, more so than in other titles of the same genre. Many times I've lost a battle as my healer was too close to the front lines and was cut down with a single blow. I might mention at this point that the enemy AI is extremely punishing and enemy troops will go out of their way to annihilate your support units.
Whilst the graphical quality of Tactics Ogre is barely above Playstation standard, Square Enix have included some very nice on-screen effects for various moments in battle such as using finishing moves and magic spells. The camera angle during battles cannot be changed so these small additions are at least welcome and add a bit of modern flare to this classic title.
Build an army
As I wrote above, Tactics Ogre features a huge variety of job classes for you to choose from. Whilst some games require you to hire a knight or archer to act as a close-ranged and long-ranged unit respectively, job class systems allow you to change the "job" of any given unit so they can become a knight or archer at will, cutting down on the number of units you need to hire, and allowing you to train your favourite troops to perform a number of tasks rather than the one they were lumbered with. Job-wise you begin with the standard Warrior, Mage and Cleric (sword master/ offensive spell user/ healing spell user). The choice available to you expands as you complete more and more missions to include Valkyries, Beast Tamers, Rune Fencers and a great deal more. Each unit in your company can switch between each job if you have a ticket (which can be bought or won in battles) so there's a great deal of customization at your fingertips. On top of that, Tactics Ogre features a skill system that lets you choose each individual unit's strengths. As each unit completes missions they will gain skill points, which you can spend in the menus to buy skills, which range from proficiencies with particular weapon types to resistances to certain status ailments and even techniques that have devastating effects in battle.
One point in Tactics Ogre's favour is that each unit will be assigned the level of it's job type. For example every Warrior will share a common level so if you hire a new Warrior unit, they won't begin weak and useless and you can use them in battle right away. The unit will have to learn their skills from scratch and if you unlock a new job it will begin from level one but for the most part this allows you to get into action with new units instead of fighting weaker enemies until they are strong enough.
Tactics Ogre feels just like the Final Fantasy Tactics series, so if you liked them you'll love this as it's just more of the same. I was somewhat disappointed in finding out it was a remake and not an entirely new iteration with updated graphics in 3D, but the gameplay is top notch and the story is solid. Like Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, the game features dialogue in what I can only describe as “Olde English” which really helps to set the mood and makes the game feel more old-school, not a bad thing by any means.
New players will find it very hard to just pick up and play, and many of the early missions are seriously challenging. There's a lot of tutorials and rules to read that fans of Final Fantasy Tactics will already know, but are going to be very off-putting to a gamer choosing this as their first foray into the genre. If you stick with it, there's a great deal of satisfaction to be had commanding your units to victory, but be warned: it will take a while.
A real thinking man\'s tactical TBS, many hours of gameplay
Somewhat dated graphics, new players will have trouble getting into it