Dungeons & Dragons Tactics Updated Impressions

We meet with Kuju Entertainment and check out a pre-alpha version of its upcoming turn-based dungeon crawler.

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Currently scheduled for release in February, Dungeons & Dragons Tactics is a turn-based role-playing game that purportedly boasts the most authentic and comprehensive interpretation of the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set ever to appear in a video game. Some tweaking of the rules has been necessary to make them more suitable for a video game and to accommodate the new psychic warrior and psion classes, but the changes are minor and have all been agreed upon with Wizards of the Coast. We recently had an opportunity to check out the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons Tactics with developer Kuju Entertainment at Atari's Spotlight event in Las Vegas, and we're pleased to report that it's looking very promising.

Although we were told up front that the pre-alpha version of Dungeons & Dragons Tactics we saw lacks polish, the first thing we noticed is that the team at Kuju is doing a great job with the visuals. The party member and monster models (including a large skeletal dracolich) that we saw were nicely detailed, and the environments that they were exploring--which on this occasion included a village being attacked by werewolves and a dark, skeleton-filled dungeon--were also very easy on the eyes. The dungeon was perhaps the more impressive of the two, simply because it served to show off the real-time lighting and shadows that were cast by a torch in the hands of a dwarven party member. If you're familiar with the D&D 3.5 rules, you'll know that dwarves and halflings are able to see in the dark and in low-light conditions, respectively, and we can confirm that this is also true in the PlayStation Portable game. Enemies who are concealed in darkened areas (a tactic that you can employ yourself) were visible thanks to the dwarf in our group and had a blue hue to indicate that they were in darkness.

If you're a newcomer to the Dungeons & Dragons universe, it's easy to be intimidated by statistics like "216 spells" and "around 650 unique items," but Kuju appears to have succeeded in making the game as accessible as possible without dumbing it down for experienced players. When battling monsters, for example, a simple "attack" command can be used to perform a suitable offensive move, but you can also enter a list of different attack options where you can get more specific. You'll be able to use "ready commands" that tell your party members to attack the next enemy that they see on sight, for example. D&D Tactics will also feature an attack-of-opportunity system that lets your characters attack enemies if they pass through an adjacent square on the map or are attempting to attack your party with particularly slow melee weapons.

Kuju estimates that the story mode--which can be played from the perspective of good or evil--will take the majority of players at least 100 hours to complete. If you have a lot of experience with Dungeons & Dragons, however, it's conceivable that you might be able to beat the game in around 40 hours, particularly if you choose to take advantage of the game's "chess mode," which speeds up the proceedings by doing away with all of the movement and combat animations.

The story mode can be played solo or cooperatively by up to six players. When you're playing cooperatively using multiple PSPs, one of you will be nominated as the dungeon master (DM) and have information for the entire party stored on your memory stick. The thinking behind this system is that it'll still be possible for the group to play if one of the members doesn't show up, provided that person isn't the DM. Other multiplayer game types in Dungeons & Dragons Tactics will include deathmatches, treasure hunts, and a gladiator mode that tasks you with killing more monsters than your opponents. All of the competitive multiplayer modes will support up to four teams.

We left our meeting with Atari and Kuju Entertainment feeling quite impressed with what we saw of Dungeons & Dragons Tactics, and we're very much looking forward to getting our hands on a version of the game in the not-too-distant future. We'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.

Discussion

20 comments
supermodel23
supermodel23

this looks like it could be a really good game. i havent played D&D in years and ive been wanting a good system version. the video looks like it should be a great RPG.

Tuoms
Tuoms

I've never had the opportunity to play D&D before so I think I'll pick this one up when it hits the stores and see what the PSP adaption is like.

cooperthefool
cooperthefool

Awsome I've Been awaiting a turn-based dungeon crawler :)

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

Dungeons & Dragons has always been a big franchise so I will be getting this for my PSP. It will be a nice new RPG to have. I was never a fan of the card playing game's. But the games have always been good. Dungeons & Dragons is the first real RPG game out there and other things have used the material and made it new so it is always good to see some thing that started it all. Even though there is other things like Dungeons & Dragons this is what started it all. This and the Lord of the Rings.

Runningflame570
Runningflame570

Okay, add this onto the list of things to get when I finally buy a PSP..along with Megaman Powered Up, Tekken Dark Ressurection, and Daxter..

AarnaK
AarnaK

Finally a decent and ORIGINAL game is comming out on PSP! ;-)

wuzgar
wuzgar

Finally a decent game is comming out on PSP. O_o

Ricko1234
Ricko1234

Why does everyone consider selling or chucking there psp when a good game hasnt come out inna while? The psp is meant for gaming on the go, having one or two have decent games at a time is good enough for me.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Own a psp and sooo looking forward to a good addition for my psp library. I haven't played too many games of late that were worth any attention so this is gonna be a star in a dark sky I hope!!!

haze_blaze
haze_blaze

The PSP is finally getting some games that seem worth owning the system for! There have been a few games that have sparked my interest, but this is one that would lead me to buy a PSP. I hope they keep it up.

geopetr
geopetr

Well, if it even smells like Dragonshard, it's going to be poop

AverreDavnros
AverreDavnros

it has my attention, although i most likely wont buy the PSP for just this game, have to wait and see i suppose.

PopeReal
PopeReal

I am jealous... sounds like a great game for the PSP (I only own a DS). If more games come out like this I might have to pick one up.

Suttonjn27
Suttonjn27

Not a big fan of the Tactics games, but I loves me some D&D. Now to find where I stashed my PSP...

magicmo
magicmo

I can't wait for this one. I've always wanted a D and D game for on the go.

Raeldor
Raeldor

D&D on the PSP. This may be the one thing that saves my PSP from the garbage.

bryehngeocef
bryehngeocef

Man, every system needs a good tactics game. This one just might convince me to shell out for a PSP