Let us read your fortune…
Big square grids for battlefields. Little soldiers moonwalking in place as they wait for their turn. Wildly branching storylines. And tarot cards. Lots and lots of tarot cards. It can only mean one thing: an Ogre Battle is afoot. (Disclaimer: Game Revolution is not responsible for any unmet expectations of actually seeing ogres during this game.)
[image1]If you’re an old fart of an RPG player like me, you might remember the Ogre Battle series rearing its head once in a while, then quietly slipping into the background of the gaming landscape, biding its time until the next release. Well, folks, it’s just about that time again.
Fans might notice that, having the same subtitle as the original Tactics Ogre, this new entry in the series is actually a remake of the granddaddy of the tactics RPG genre. If it weren’t for Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics wouldn’t even exist, so if you enjoyed the latter you ought to pay your respects to the former.
And this fresh PSP remake is a great opportunity to do just that. The original plot, characters, and gameplay have been retained, but a slew of new features have been introduced to bring Tactics Ogre into the modern era. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the graphics have been updated for the PSP, and the plot and dialogue have been rewritten and retranslated to higher standards than we used to have in the ancient days of decrepit 16-bit.
[image2]Then you’ve got some handy additions to the gameplay. The core mechanics are still the same and as solid as ever: You take turns with the enemy marching your army around a chessboard-like battlefield, maneuvering onto favorable terrain and dispatching foes with a wide variety of different classes. But some new extra touches streamline the experience, like a bar that essentially acts as a “news ticker”, scrolling important information like the recent actions taken (way more informative than CNN).
The most significant change is a brand new feature called the Wheel of Fortune (Vanna White not included), which influences the game in multiple ways. On a smaller scale, the Wheel of Fortune lets you turn back time in a particular battle, even as far as 50 turns, so you can fix a mistake or try a different strategy without restarting from the beginning.
But that wheel in the sky keeps on turning in bigger ways (whoops, wrong '80s band... the Ogre series is based on Queen, not Journey!). The Wheel of Fortune lets you turn back time for the entire story as well: certain points in the story, typically when something significantly crazy goes down, are saved as “anchor points”. You can actually use the Wheel of Fortune to roll all the way back to an anchor point and redo everything again from there.
[image3]From a practical standpoint, it means you won’t get stuck if you run into a mission that you haven’t leveled enough or gotten the right classes to beat. Instead of starting the whole game over again, just roll back the clock to an anchor point and correct your mistakes before hitting that wall again.
For an Ogre vet, you might realize another benefit to the Wheel. The game has multiple endings and tons of branching paths, and if you’re a completionist, that typically means doings lots of playthroughs to see everything. Not so anymore; on a single playthrough you can check out one path, then go back to an anchor point and go down another. Did one of your major characters die? You could continue and see how the game unfolds without them, then go back to keep them alive and see how that pans out instead.
If you’re a tactics RPG fan and haven’t played the game that helped define the genre, this is a great opportunity to do so. And if you already enjoyed the original Tactics Ogre, there’s enough new stuff in this remake that you might want to sit up and take notice. Besides, how often does an Ogre game come along, anyway?
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is looming on the horizon and set to come stateside in Q1 of 2011.