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Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis Package Art
†GENRE
††Quest
†DEVELOPER
††Atlus
†PUBLISHER
††1-2
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††no
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis

I've always liked to think of myself as the Indiana Jones of video games. Along with owning mysterious hats, and taking great amusement in whipping people, I've always been fascinated with the relics of the video game era. I own nearly every RPG created since the NES, and they are in mint condition. I got the first Ogre Battle game for the SNES when it first came out, and was simply boggled at its vastness and complexity. That was no ordinary RPG. Tactics Ogre for the Game Boy Advance is no ordinary RPG either. It lives up to ancestor in a way that makes a father proud of his son. Tactics Ogre is something truly original, both in form and execution, and once you start playing it, you'll know you're in for a treat.

visuals

Many games have pretty graphics. Tactics Ogre has that. Many games have "cool" magic spell effects. Tactics Ogre has that too. Many games have nice background environments. Tactics Ogre (surprise, surprise) has that also. However, it's what Tactics Ogre does with all these graphics that counts. It blends them together to make a world more beautiful than all its separate parts. The combined effect of all these graphics makes a world come to life, which sometimes seems more real than our own. The crowds bustling, the lights of the townhouses at twilight, all the little attentions to detail that makes this 2D world seem more realistic and alive than most 3D environments. I've always believed that 2D gaming worlds were more beautiful than their 3D children, as they allowed our imaginations and minds to play with the game as much as our eyes. Tactics Ogre turns this belief into a fact.

This game stresses to put enormous detail into everything. I spent many a moment just staring at the screen in awe. Everything in the game is polished, even stuff you only see once, nothing is rushed through or has a cheap look to it. One battle has a character that has 10 unique attacks that exhibit 10-second animations each, and this is for only one foe. All weapons have their own motions and style, all characters walk in tune to their character, ninja's sneak around with tip-toeing footsteps, knights walk tall and proud, magicians move slow like hunched up old geezers, it's great! Whole rooms with banners, tables, lighting, designs, windows, smudge, glimmer, decor, and levels are created for a 15 second scene with 5 lines of dialogue. The attention to everything in this game baffles my mind; I still can't come to terms with how it could have been done, other than graphical artists being paid minimum wage.

audio

The audio in this game does its job well. The music fits the mood and style of this game wonderfully. The battle music is intense, soft strolls on the guitar play when the romance scenes take place, despair, hurt, love, rage, haste, the music conveys it all. You can close your eyes, and based on the tune you're hearing, you'll know what situation you're in.

The sound effects in the game are catchy. I love them. You can feel the singe your enemy feels under your fireball, by the sound of a charbroiled flame cooking him like a burger. The healing potions sound refreshing, like a cold soda on a hot summer's day. The clashing of steel, the whirl of magic powder, the squish of human flesh making room for instruments of death, the battle rages on, and you get to hear it all! The audio in this game lives up to it's duty in every way, and finds a special spot in my heart for the classic line that defines the Ogre Battle series; "Fight it out!"

gameplay

The only analogy that's fitting to Tactics Ogre is chess. Instead of having the King, you have yourself, the leader of your group of 8. Instead of pawns, you have knights. Instead of horses, you have dragons. Instead of rooks, you have magicians and priests. You get the drift. In place of your 8 by 8 grid in chess, you're given a wide range of playing fields. Ranging from areas of 10 x 20 to 20 x 40, battlegrounds can get quite big. Your characters, much like chess pieces, have a restricted amount of movement. Not in the sense that they can only go diagonal, rather, that some characters can travel longer distances than others, some can cross any terrain type without trouble, some can move to greater elevations with ease. Also, attacks can cover greater or lesser distances based on the elevation, the type of terrain, or the mood the character is in. It gets deep, very deep, and it will do you well to read the manual before popping in the cartridge.

Half the battle in Tactics Ogre, is preparing the optimal team. Should you have three magicians, or two magicians and two knights? Should you give your best weapon to your leader, or someone who is weaker than the foe? Can you get your archers into the perfect sniping position before the enemy blocks the path? Should you sell a magical item for funds that your army so desperately needs, or wait it out and see if you can trade the item later in the game? You're faced with many decisions, it gets tricky, and it gets good.

Besides having excellent graphics and sound, the story and script of Tactics Ogre is of the highest calibre. Unlike most Japanese to American RPG's, which are on par with Godzilla dubs, the script in Tactics Ogre really shines. The characters are well thought out and prove their character rather than explaining it to you - a crutch many cheesy RPG's lean on. Inner conflict plagues many characters, including the protagonist, keeping the story alive and interesting. The personal aspect shown keeps the story grounded, while the larger picture keeps things interesting. A great combination. Overall, the script and the story is equivalent to the best and the brightest that the SNES generation had to offer. Also, this is by far the greatest story attached to an Ogre Battle game.

Along side the main story of the game, there is a special "quest" mode you can explore. When playing through the main story of the game, you often are rewarded with magical books, which unlock battles in the quest mode. The battles within the quest mode have nothing to do with the main story, but serve as a fun distraction. However, the prizes found, won, and earned within the quest mode, are transferred to your main game. At the beginning of each quest battle you're asked how many turns you expect the battle to last until you accomplish all of your objectives. The lower the amount of turns you guess and match the more prestigious your prize will be at the end of the quest match. Itís a nifty gimmick used to sidetrack you from your game adding many hours onto the total playtime. Itís a very well thought out section of the game, which is equivalent to the cherry on top of the sundae.

multiplayer

Tactics Ogre features many multi-player options. You can hook up via a cable link with your buddy (both of you need your own Tactics Ogre cartridge), and trade characters, items, and spells, or do battle with your team.

overall

My gaming experience spans 13 years, that being so, itís not often that a new 2D RPG brings something unique and fresh to the table, yet Tactics Ogre delivers. Especially in this day in age when 2D RPG's are no longer mainstream, itís amazing to find such a treasure.

Whether youíre an RPG fanatic, or someone who just plays one once a year, you owe yourself the pleasure of playing this game. It has something for everyone, you simply cannot walk away unsatisfied.

final score Strategy RPG/10


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