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Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – TGS hands-on impression

By Janelle | September 16, 2010 at 6:09 am

After playing Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fortune (to be called Let Us Cling Together in North America) at the Tokyo Game Show today, I don’t really have very much to say beyond “Well done, Square Enix.  Solid port/remake/whatchamacallit!”  The demo showed that this game will be great-looking and great-sounding, and will have none of the lag or excessive load times that sometimes plague other ports when they make the jump to PSP. Some changes might bother purists or fans of the original, though.

Square Enix let showgoers pick from three scenarios: a New Game, with all the cutscenes one would expect, or one of two saved games showcasing two different battles. I jumped right in to a battle demo to check what changes had been made, and just as importantly, what had stayed the same.

Easily the best thing about the new Tactics Ogre is the revamped menu system and battle interface. The menus aren’t perfect, but they’re significantly less clunky, a lot more intuitive, and display more important information on the screen at any given moment.

In battle, Tactics Ogre plays out like a typical TRPG: characters are stacked in a turn order based on speed, and can move and perform an action and skill once each per turn. Maps are laid out on an isometric grid, and the two sides duke it out until the battle is finished.

The gameplay from the demo doesn’t really require much description, because if you’re reading this website, you know the general build of a tactical RPG.  Tactics Ogre is fun, classic, and timeless, but there were a few changes that I couldn’t find explanations for within the game. Characters now seem to have a TP gauge in addition to MP, and extra skills that can be executed in addition to a regular action like attacks or magic. Also, the death penalty has been changed to a Final Fantasy Tactics sort of countdown, where ally characters have a 3-turn counter that must run out before they can be considered “permanently” dead. It goes without saying that the latter does affect the difficulty of the game.
The demo also let me try out the C.H.A.R.I.O.T. system. (Yes, that’s an acronym, and no, I don’t care what it stands for.) In battle, the player can press the L button to bring up a timeline of the actions in battle, and can revert the battle to a previous state. From there, it’s possible to try a completely different battle plan or attempt to correct a mistake. The game will then save both the original and the new list of actions, allowing the player to go back to the first timeline if the second attempt doesn’t work out. In the full game, taking advantage of this system requires the use of a Tarot card, but in the demo there didn’t seem to be a limit to the number of times it could be used. C.H.A.R.I.O.T. initially sounds like a game-breaker, but it could enable some experimentation to allow players to really master the system.  The demo battles weren’t difficult enough to really tell whether or not it will be a good design decision in the long run, but the player is never forced to use it.

Little and big changes aside, Tactics Ogre feels great and plays very well. As a PSP port, it stands out from the crowd because of its speed and smoothness.  The game is due out in Japan Nov. 11 of this year.

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Topics: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Tokyo Game Show 2010