Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameBoy Advance
Publisher
Atlus Co.
Developer
Quest
Genre
Strategy/RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Everyone
 
Grade
The Good

• A very long game with a deep story that is also very customizable.
• Much-improved training and spellcasting from the previous incarnation.
• Pooled disposable items.

The Bad

• Too much like it's predecessor.
• Boring and sometimes very lengthy dialogue.
• Training is still a necessity.

 
Grade
B-

The island of Ovis has been under the rule of the Holy Lodis Empire for the last 15 years, and it's inhabitants have been forced to convert to Lodisism. As Alphonse, a member of the Order of the Sacred Flame of Felis, you must find out who is betraying who in this mysterious holy war.

Controls: As with most GBA games, controls are simple enough. The "A" button is the main button, used for confirming menu selections and scrolling messages. Tactics Ogre is very menu-driven and there is a lot of dialogue. The "B" button is used to cancel a command. The "R" button is your menu button, the "L" button is used only slightly as a shortcut function in battle, the "Start" button pauses, and the "Select" button is the help button.

Graphics: The graphics are almost identical to the Playstation version of Tactics Ogre, released in 1997. While it's impressive that the same graphics can be achieved on a GBA (although I don´t think Tactics Ogre was pushing the Playstation´s processor very hard), it's also a little disappointing that Atlus would just rest on their laurels. The character classes have the same exact models as the Playstation version. There are new animations for spells and special abilities, however, which are nice.

Gameplay: Tactics Ogre is a strategy RPG (some call it simulation RPG), so battles are menu-driven. It is the same type of gameplay as Final Fantasy Tactics. Your goal is to approach each battle with a plan that will outsmart the enemy. Alphonse and a team of characters start in one area of the battlefield, and the enemy starts in another, usually on the opposite side. Factors like environment, encumbrance, character class, and movement type limit where your characters can go on the battlefield. There are a wide variety of ranged and melee attacks that characters can perform, and knowing these attacks is a key element on how you fight. Characters can also change classes as they level up, which offers a wide variety of choices for the player. Enemy players and monsters can also be hired or recruited on the battlefield, so there are many different types of characters available to you.

A typical turn in Tactics Ogre would go something like this. There is an overhead world map with fixed locations that Alphonse can travel to. Some locations have shops where you can purchase weapons, armor, items, and spellbooks. You can also hire characters or monsters into your party. You can move to any of the fixed locations on the map. A random encounter may occur in areas that you have already cleared. In areas you haven't cleared, a battle or cutscene automatically comes up. Get through the battle/cutscene, and you're back to the map to move to the next location.

Audio: The sound in this game is nothing to write home about. It also uses some of the same tracks from the Playstation version. Sound is mostly just used for background noise during battles, and doesn't play a big role in the game. Elemental sound effects are done well, whether it's casting a fireball or raining on the battlefield. Overall the sound is okay, but nothing special.

What's different: If you've played and beaten the Playstation version, what kind of changes can you expect from this version? A few, but not enough in my opinion. Emblems are new, and are gained through combat. There are 32 total emblems, and their purpose is to unlock character classes and upgrade abilities. For example, you need the right emblem to be able to become a knight.

The environmental effects are improved somewhat. If it's raining in a battle, the overall water level will rise if the battle lasts long enough. This can be a factor for attack strength if your character is suddenly standing in water instead of dry land. The disposable items, like health and magic restorers, no longer need to be equipped on each character before battle. They are pooled together and can be used by anyone at anytime. Saves a lot of prep time for battle, and allows one character to use multiple items. You have the ability to pre-level your characters when hiring them. For example, if you're 20 hours into the game and need to hire a soldier, you can pay extra to have the soldier start out at any level instead of just level one. Saves a lot of time in the training field. There is an option to auto-equip your characters when they change classes. So if you have a Knight that you want to change into a Cleric, you can set it so that the character's armor is replaced with a robe, the sword is replaced with a staff, etc. There is also an "Optimal" and "Power" auto-equip option in the organize screen. Spells now upgrade their area of effect as your characters level up. This is nice because you don't have to buy different spells for the range you wish to cover.

Training is much improved, if only for one change - if you set the controls to computer, your characters won't use up any of your disposable items! So, you can safely set both sides to computer controlled, leave for an hour, and come back with leveled-up characters. Quest Mode is earned by finding or obtaining special books in battle. Once you've found a book, you can explore an area tied to that book and it's like a mini-battle. Only 6 characters per team, and you can set the number of rounds you have to defeat the leader in. The shorter number of rounds you pick and succeed at, the better the prize at the end. You do not gain experience points in Quest Mode, however.

The bad: While I really enjoy the Ogre series and enjoyed Tactics Ogre on the Playstation very much, this feels like I'm just playing the Playstation version all over again. There are differences, but it doesn't feel much different when playing. The story is also very hard to keep up with, as there are many different religions, groups, areas, and names thrown at you in the dialogues. I know this is true of any RPG, but the conversations tend to drone on and on and make me want to fall asleep. I'm sure the story is very compelling, but the way it's told needs some work. Maybe if there was some graphical representations of what the characters were talking about, instead of the characters just facing each other in a large room for 5 minutes, it would hold my interest better.

Tactics Ogre is a good game, but it fails to distinguish itself enough from it's 1997 cousin. Same character models, same environments, same battle engine, same items, same weapons, same spells...there's something to be said for consistency, but I feel Tactics Ogre needed to expand on the idea a little more, not just carbon-copy it. Definitely check it out if you've never played the Playstation version, or if you did play the Playstation version and are looking for more of the same. This is definitely a niche title, so if you weren't a fan of Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics, stay away.

- - bluezero

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