Generation of Chaos
Game Info
Platform(s)
PSP
Publisher
NIS America
Developer
Idea Factory
Genre
Strategy RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Alcohol Reference, Language, Mild Fantasy Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Extremely deep and challenging
• Multiple campaigns to take on
• More options to build your empire than you may need
• 30 vs 30 battles play out in real time

The Bad

• Slow down in battles
• Loads often, causing stuttering in voice dialog
• Steep learning curve

 
Grade
B+

Generation of Chaos for PSP is actually a port of the fourth part of the Japanese strategy series from Idea Factory. Since none of the series has seen the light of day in North America, this PS2 to PSP port, published by NIS America, may seem like a completely new offering. And, that is what may catch some gamers off-guard.

As the game begins, we're told of the ending of the Dravanian Revolution and the rise of Minister Zeo as the leader of the Empire. Now, the Dravania Empire struggles against the other empires in hopes of uniting the land. The story for Generation of Chaos is presented in a unique fashion in that you get portions of it in each of the campaigns. While cutscenes may not progress some overall story, except in small steps, the overall story is revealed in time as you play the different campaigns. I especially liked how you got multiple perspectives on the war between the different empires.

When you start a new game, you'll be given two campaigns you can start with. The Dravania Empire campaign is a beginner mode that one could say slowly moves you into the game. But even since the first chapter starts with a one vs. one face-off, most of the game mechanics may catch the player off guard. The other campaign, the Kingdom of Zodia, throws you into the heart of the game, where you'll have to fight hard against multiple kingdoms at war with each other.

As you get rolling, you'll find your lands filled with castles, towns, towers or caves. In many of these are at least one commander. Each commander starts off with a unit of 29 soldiers at their disposal. Early on, you'll find yourself with more than enough units to satisfy your early-game needs. While you can only move five units a turn, units can actually be used for all manner of activities, so much so that you can actually use all your units in a turn and still not use all your moves.

That's not to say you won't be moving around, as you will need to do so to claim more territory. Why, you ask. Because more territory equals more money and you will be needing money in spades to pay for your troops, as each unit comes with a certain upkeep cost. Each unit has a different move distance and these can be affected by the terrain you're moving along. Some units may have a hard time moving through desert or the water, while others may be able to move much quicker.

Of course, all this moving will eventually get you into a battle, be it random or against one of your opposing nations. Once you get into conflict, you'll find yourself drawn to a battlefield where your unit of 30 fights against the enemy's unit. Each squad comes with a leader and on occasion a special soldier that works as a secondary unique character to the unit. The rest of the troops are all of the same type, though there are a large variety of troops like soldiers, knights, magicians, and hunters (just to name a few). As combat starts, the player is allowed the option to change their formation and even the operation order (which allows you to charge into battle, focus on the leader or even flee the battlefield).

As both units move in on each other, you're able to change commands and even direct them where to focus their attacks. Your leader has skills that can be used, though they consume SP. These skills can either be attacks or status effects. You can purchase new skills to equip from cities you control and even earn skills from certain equipped weapons. Each leader also has the ability to equip a single item. Most of the time, you'll have a green herb which can be used to give a health boost to your unit. As the killcount builds up, the "Super" gauge fills. When the gauge fills a level, your leader can use their Supers, which are often powerful all-enemy attacks or status effects. These are more powerful than skills and can turn the tide of battle if used effectively.

There are a lot of conditions that affect whether you are successful in battle, ranging from the time of day, why type the battlefield is, and the bonuses that help either unit. Of course, equipping better weapons and equipment will help your units in battle. It may take the player some time to really get an idea of how all these various effects do work, but when one of your better units gets slaughtered, you're sure to pay attention.

Outside of combat, you'll find a lot of nation-building elements that make Generation of Chaos feel a bit like Civilization. Most locations have fortification and market levels that can built up by units posted in the location. The Fortification stat is good for defending the area, while Market lets that city/castle/etc. generate more money and offer a better shop to the player.

There are a lot of options in the game that most may never use, but control freaks will love to exploit. The R&D option allows you to change the landscape of an area under your control. You can also build forts, factories, clinics and cemeteries. Commanders can try to set up alliances with other nations or just send their troops into town to search for random items. More of the more important aspects that isn't part of battle or city maintenance is dealing with captured prisoners. When you defeat a unit, the unit's commander is captured. With the right amount of influence or even by just wearing them down, you can convince most enemy commanders to join your empire. Why would you want to do that? Well, because this is the best way to get better, more powerful units under your command.

I could honestly go on and on about all the little options available to the player when playing Generation of Chaos. Many may only be used once or twice by the player, while others will see constant use. Because of this, there are a lot of menu options and commands that may overload the average player. I would strongly suggest the player actually read through the manual and even grab the free mini-guide from NIS America's website to help them get into the game. If not, a lot of people will find the difficulty curve to be intimidating.

While the original game was a PS2 title, I think the graphics actually make a fine transition to the PSP. It's likely that the original game wasn't all that impressive on the home console, but on the portable, they look rather good. The game map and character icons look clean and detailed enough that you have a good idea what's going on in the overworld. Battlefields have a nice variety and the magic effects all look nice without being overly impressive. Visually, I really like the artistic style used with the characters and NPCs. Even some of the low-level grunts look really cool. This translated well to the anime cutscenes that are used for certain Super attacks.

Musically, Generation of Chaos feels largely anime influenced, which really isn't much of a stretch considering how the game is styled. With the art style offered and the presence of a lot of familiar voice actors in the cast, the music is appropriate and fits the move of the game. The sound effects are pretty solid, especially for the genre. There is certainly something fulfilling about listening to your squad hacking away at the enemy forces. The voice work is pretty solid, and anime fans will find a lot of familiar voices here.

I have to wonder how difficult the conversion from PS2 to PSP is as Generation of Chaos seems to need just a bit more optimization. There are constant load times all over the place. While this isn't completely deal breaking, it does manage to rear it's ugly head during cutscenes with voicework. During these, the disc seems to always struggle to keep up to speed, making these sequences feel stuttery. There is also a bit of sluggishness in many of the battles, as if the engine is having a hard time controlling the 30 vs. 30 units with good speed.

It may seem that I'm being overly critical of Generation of Chaos, but I did really enjoy the gameplay that was offered to me. It's nice to see that not everything in the SRPG genre has to fall into certain turnbased RPG mechanics. Even if the game had been optimized more and some of the mechanics streamlined, this game would be a hard sell for most gamers. But, for those looking for a deep and challenging strategy title, Generation of Chaos will fit the bill.

- - Vane

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