Tactics Ogre Updated Impressions

We build an army, read the cards, and spin the Wheel of Fortune in this updated look at the refresh of this hit strategy role-playing game series.

This year has been dominated by sequels and franchise reboots. What’s old is new once more, and strategy role-playing game fans can get in on the action with longtime fan favorite, Tactics Ogre, which is getting the new-lease-on-life treatment. On a recent trip to Square Enix’s Tokyo office, we had a chance to pick up the English version of the game, trade turns, and find out where the freshness starts.

As we saw in our first look of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, the title opens with a set of randomly generated tarot cards and three available options for each. Where previously we needed them translated, this time, they were in English. The first asked how we would define victory, the second queried what we would wish for on a shooting star, and the third dug its claws into the morality core of our brain, asking how we would exact revenge--be it incarceration, banishment, or murder. The path you choose here will form the base of your Tactics Ogre experience, determining which characters will cross your path, the roles they play, and how your army will respond to your personality. After making our decisions, we were presented with the option to input our name and birthday, and once the experience had been appropriately personalized, we trotted off into the main story mode.

After meeting up with a band of mercenaries--feeling each other out and narrowly avoiding clashing swords--we enlisted their services and set about raiding a nearby cathedral in defense of a duke. Combat has remained largely faithful to the game's forbearer and retains its slow, calculated approach to turn-based battle. Securing the building rewarded us by unlocking a shop we could use to sell equipment and hire units; it also acted as an auction block for monster units.

Elevation and the direction your character is facing play key roles and make for the difference between getting the drop on an approaching enemy with a sneaky return strike and being clobbered without right of reply. Series fans will be pleased to hear that the game retains its traditional isometric battlefield perspective; it avoids the almost requisite 3D battle system overhaul that comes bundled with the reimagining of the other series. Skill and experience points are determined at the conclusion of each fight and are divvied up among the surviving members of the class based on their involvement in the skirmish. Tarot cards such as The Lovers and Hanged Man are randomly generated on the field, and by successfully approaching and picking them up with a character, your team will receive bonuses, such as improved stats and raised troop loyalty.

Narrative is superbly written and conveyed through exchanges like these.

While this version of Tactics Ogre: LUCT straddles the line between port and remake with its tweaked visuals, updated audio, and additional story that expands on some of the events of the original, the biggest new addition is the Wheel of Fortune. Essentially, it acts as an undo button, storing the last 50 moves and allowing you to backtrack to alter history. It’s the strategy RPG equivalent of a Mulligan, but it’s not the win button it may appear to be; the 50 actions include those of your opponent. Because the game is rooted in rest time and rotation of squad members, it acts as a learning tool as much as a get out of jail card, though it can certainly give you a second chance at making good on a foolish decision.

Outside of battle, the Wheel of Fortune system also helps simplify the decision-making process during the multiple story paths available to players. Two distinctive endings are available, but rather than force you to start over from scratch to see alternative options, you can rewind to key moments. Players who are unfamiliar with the series but keen to give it a try will also benefit from a reasonable amount of automated help. Healers cast their helpful waves on injured friendly combatants on occasion, while the overarching storyline is well explained and superbly written. Audio follows the same old and new formula, reenlisting the help of original composers Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata to create extensions of the original score, as well as recording new pieces of music for the soundtrack.

Elevation can make all the difference to get the drop on your target.

The marriage of familiar and fresh content has done fan service to this long-running series and whet our appetite for more play. While Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a game of slight obscurity outside of Japan due to its limited Western release, excusing yourself from playing for lack of experience will only do you a disservice as a strategy RPG fan. The game is due to launch in North American and PAL territories in the early part of 2011. Stay tuned for our full review soon.

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Discussion

31 comments
FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Maybe the psp has a hit on its hands in Feb.

Raekon
Raekon

I LOVE this game on my PS1 and still have it. You can go 3 different ways that would lead depending on your decisions to a different ending. Lots of extra and hidden stuff and characters you can get under different conditions. A 100 levels high tower(as far as I remember x_X) that needs lots of time and energy to finish, a great amount of different classes, unique characters! Needs lots of strategy and carefulness(always make sure to save before a battle and make sure to reload if someone important died). Later on you can get a ressurection spell you can use within a battle when someone dies. If you don't they are lost forever (except under special conditions). Long story short, one of the best tactical battle games on the PS1 ever and a great decision to bring this game back on the psp so current players can enjoy its awesomeness. :)

kztyle
kztyle

I hope PSP2 is backward compatible .. otherwise, I'm getting a PSP now ...

Deckmaster
Deckmaster

I see it is already available in Japan and will arrive in the USA in february 2011. When will this game come out in Europe?

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

An interesting game to watch for and from previous gamers a game with merit.

Lithium8606
Lithium8606

pleaaasseee bring the job badge/merit system back from TO:KoL!! Best SRPG class system ever. It made sense and was more of an incentive to unlock all the hidden classes and was an awesome reward for doing things like, killing an opponent on a counter attack or avoiding a fatal blow multiple times in a row... simply awesome

Caffiene_free
Caffiene_free

Ah the beginning gave me flashbacks of Persona 3. Good times

-Katsuri-
-Katsuri-

Looks promising. Will be picking this up.

KuRf
KuRf

See Namco you should learn from this guys on how to make games.

TheTrueMagusX1
TheTrueMagusX1

I am definetly looking forward to this. More People need to play Tactics Ogre. This is why we even had a Final Fantasy Tactics in the first place.

huskerman34
huskerman34

nothing like ff tatics. good game to was on ps2

Neurotripsick
Neurotripsick

I'm seriously considering buying a psp just for this. I first played the original TO 10 years ago and to this day I consider it to be the best game I've ever played.

avatarjk137
avatarjk137

@ Deal: Yes. That game was the best.

cowdrunk
cowdrunk

As happy as I am to see this game come back (now i can finaly play it proporly and to its conclution) what i realy mant to see again is a Tactics Ogre: March of the Black Queen remake/port/thing. So few people know about it and how good it is :(

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

This is the real thing. I have great memories from the gbc one

DealRogers
DealRogers

I want an Ogre Battle like the 64 one.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@theonelihou this isnt a sequel to FFT but there is actually a sequel to it on the DS

belstras
belstras

Nice artworks. I need to buy a psp now. ._.

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

Can't wait to get my hands on this game. It's been awhile since I've played the PS version, very tempted to play it again just to get a refresh. Game looks great on the PSP can't wait to see all the enhancements.

Brumbek
Brumbek

Wow, absolutely epic trailer! This game will be so amazing for all us Matsuno lovers! Ogre Battle and FFT are two of the greatest games ever, so a remade Tactics Ogre will be incredible!

tforbes
tforbes

The original game was pretty tame. It required WAYY too many hours of battling yourself to level your guys evenly. Additionally, it was VERY unforgiving when it came to your troops. Someone dies, they are dead forever. And lastly, the class system was so reminiscent of the complications from Ogre Battle that you really needed a strategy guide to figure out how to level your people. Outside of those 3 gripes, this was the 2nd best SPRG to hit the PS1 after FFT. If they fix up some of those issues, this could be one of the greatest titles on the PSP.

GenosHazard
GenosHazard

@theonelihou this isnt a sequel to fft

theonelihou
theonelihou

OMG YES!!!! FFT needs a squeal! that Cwap we got on GB was not good enough! I don't even own a PSP and will get one for this game!

WitteKraai
WitteKraai

Yes please! I will be buying this game upon release. Tactics Ogre was a really, really good game.

Fusionmix
Fusionmix

I'm actually really looking forward to this. I'm usually not impressed by the writing in JRPGs, accustomed to the over-wrought pretentiousness of it all, but this is surprisingly good. This goes on my radar.

Grampy_Bone
Grampy_Bone

It's got a good story and characters, but the gameplay and mechanics are inferior to FF Tactics in every way. Sorry. This is a super nintendo game though. They should remake Ogre Battle 64 instead.

Dualmask
Dualmask

It's been a long time since I've played a good SRPG along the lines of FFT. The first game in the series remains the best and most challenging. I'm hoping this Tactics Ogre game is just as compelling, and I'm once again glad to see the PSP getting good games. The media would have gamers thinking the PSP is a piece of garbage that isn't worth buying, but there are so many great games coming out for it, past, present and future.

joet1973
joet1973

I hope it has a high difficulty level like the PS1 FFT. The FFT Advance games are waay too easy for strategy fans.

pooyanh
pooyanh

This seems to be on par with Final Fantasy Tactics, if not better. Can't wait. Love you Square Enix.