Great Strategy/RPG game on GBA
Well written dialogues, good computer AI, addicting game play, great visual presentation, excellent character developement
Game starts slow at first, music is bit repetitive, menu system could be confusing
The Bottom Line:
This game is highly recommended for players that like strategy or RPG games.
Tactics Ogre is one of the best hybrid strategy/RPG titles to come to GBA, now I finally got myself a GBA SP, I picked up this game and decide to offer a review that is long overdue.
The story is standard: a young unproven warrior sets out to battle the forces of evil, and along the way, discovers secrets about himself and his comrades. The story is presented very competently through conversational cutscenes and generally well-translated english dialogue.
But, the story is really secondary to the mechanics of the gameplay. At its essence, Tactics Ogre plays like 3D chess combined with role playing. You will spend a great deal of your time outfitting your characters with weapons and spells, organizing your troops, and training them for battle. This sort of preparation is absolutely necessary, since you never know when a fight will break out, and you don't want to be caught unprepared.
The battles take place on a beautiful 3D grid, with various terrain elements that alter everything from attack power to defensive position. Obstacles and elevation play a key role in strategy, which makes the graphics more than just window dressing.
Play is turn-based, and feels very similar to the classic X-Com for the PC. You move your character anywhere within their range (determined by innate ability and the weight of equipment), and then either attack or take up a defensive position. Once you have moved all members of your team, the enemy's team makes their moves, and they do so with extremely competent AI that poses an excellent degree of challenge.
The graphics in Tactics Ogre are beautiful, with detailed characters and terrain painted with vibrant colors. The weather effects in the game are well-done, and add not just visual flare, but also alter the gameplay as well. The character animation is nicely done as well. The only possible minus is that the spell effects are not as flashy as they could have been, especially when compared to the effects in Golden Sun.
The sound is ok, but as with many GBA games, the sound has been compromised in order to bring you a game that looks and plays great. The music is nothing special, but never becomes annoying. The sound effects are a nice mix of thuds and slashes, with an occasional voice sample here and there.
All in all, Tactics Ogre is a tremendous game, and one of the best for the GBA. It definitely has a steep learning curve, but once you have mastered the basics, what opens up is a tremendously engaging and endlessly replayable game. Those looking for fast action should look elsewhere, but those looking for pure strategy/RPG adventure should definitely check this game out.