Impressions: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

I’ve been gradually immersing myself more and more into the SRPG genre over the last several years.  And it’s been the perfect time to do that with recent’ish re-releases of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre.  I had attempted to play through Final Fantasy Tactics when I was younger, but didn’t have the patience for it.  I’m still not entirely sure what makes these games engaging.  After all, each battle can take upwards of an hour to complete, the pacing is slow, and you can easily spend just as much time outside of battle preparing.  It sounds like a snooze-fest, and it’s almost the polar opposite of today’s Call of Duties or Dead Spaces.  I’ve found them to be engaging none the less though.  Exciting even.  For as little as there is happening on the screen, there is far more going on in your head.  Even if it takes forever and a day to complete one battle it doesn’t matter so long as you feel consistently rewarded throughout the battle itself.

For those of you who aren’t already engaged in the genre, the best way I can think to describe the experience is like this: preparing for, and executing battles is a lot like setting up, and then pushing over dominoes that you’ve arranged.  You will spend a lot of time preparing your party and arranging their skills or equipment in the same manner that you would arrange dominoes.  Each has an intended effect that’s enabled by the others, with the ultimate goal being to reach the end of the arrangement.  And when it comes to the battle itself, you push over the “dominoes” and make adjustments to your design on the fly.  Much of the anticipation is derived from not knowing if your arrangement will work.  Is it too ambitious? Did you forget anything? But it’s also exciting to see your efforts come to fruition.  After all, you don’t set up the dominoes just to see them all laying flat on the floor again.  You enjoy seeing it happen.  It’s the same with Tactics Ogre, or SRPGs in general.  You intend to win battles, but the fun of it lies in executing your plan.

SRPGs give you enough new tools and novelties to keep this from getting old, and it prods you in the direction that forces you to think more broadly.  Tactics Ogre in particular has some very odd flaws, such as assigning levels to a class of character rather than the character him or herself.  This leads to awkward situations where you wish to try out new character classes, but there’s reason to hesitate when it means that the character will be forced to start back a level one again.  But issues like that aside, it adheres to the constructs of SRPGs very effectively, which is no surprise since the original game helped to shape the entire genre.  The remake also brings the same excellent sense of presentation that was given to the re-release of Final Fantasy Tactics.  I can’t say how much of a step up the battle graphics are from the original release, but I feel it fits in comfortably with what’s to be expected of portable games.  The SRPG genre has a steep learning curve, and Tactics Ogre is no exception to the rule.  But if you are, or might be, interested in this sort of game, then Tactics Ogre is a great pick.

3 Responses to “Impressions: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together”

  1. 1 Randy
    April 1, 2011 at 12:11 am

    The Chariot feature of Tactics Ogre (press L button to rewind the battle as much as 50 turns) makes the learning curve easier to climb, and lets you see how different decisions in battle could effect things.

  2. July 12, 2011 at 4:40 am

    I love your domino analogy. I would like to quote that in my own review (attributed to this, of course). Is that OK?

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