Friday, December 20, 2013

First Impressions: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)

Wow, okay.  I bought Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together because I liked the look of the game, I'd heard nothing but good things about the Tactics Ogre/Ogre Battle series and because the game was on sale when I bought it through Amazon back in December 2011.  I started it up, but then relinquished my PSP to Conklederp since she was just getting into Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, which I had suggested she try out, so that was my own doing.  Jump ahead to February 2013 when I restarted the game as I had no idea where I was supposed to go or what my motivations for doing anything was and I played on-and-off until April.  I don't remember what happened back in April, but I've finally picked the game up again a couple of days ago.

I've actually tried writing this article a few times and each time I go off on tangents about certain aspects of the game which leads to a history of this game, Final Fantasy Tactics and tactics games in general.  But lets get down to things about the game, which is why this article is in existence.

It's a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics.  The look of the game, the character design, the complicated political plots that are reminiscent of something you'd find written by George R. R. Martin.  I don't understand all of the political intrigue and back stabbing, but I'm sure that that epiphany will surface on it's own in the later chapters.  Even the music is composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (FFT, Vagrant Story, FF XII).

What's interesting and much welcome about TO:LUCT, similar to what was done in FFT:TWotL, is a historical record of sorts is kept in game by a "historian."  This means that I can go back and look through a timeline of important events and watch cutscenes of said events.  There's even a record of NPCs and their backstories before the events in the game take place.  The game is detailed in a way that allowed me to pick the game up after not having played for nine months and I felt I knew what I was doing and why I was making those decisions.

One drastic element that is added to this game is the ability to rewind turns during a battle to have them replay differently.  For instance, you move your mage over a couple of squares to a better vantage point on an enemy who is already being attacked by one of your own fighters.  You cast a fireball spell that accidentally hits your fighter in the back of the head.  Or if you moved a thief to a spot you had thought was going to give you a tactical advantage, but then that thief is gang-killed.  You have the ability to rewind time to any point in the battle.  For posterity sake, the game keeps track of how many battles you won using this feature.

Two very much welcome features to this game happen when you're losing a battle.  First off, your characters do not permanently die.  I found this out during a boss battle and thought that I would give up the life of one of my characters as I just won a difficult (~45 minute) battle.  As my characters timer reached zero, they said something about "living to fight another day."  When the battle was over, they didn't gain any skill points, but they did gain some XP.  The second thing about losing, is that if you are about to lose a battle completely, you can, with the click of a button, retreat from that battle.  You will then gain some skill points and some XP, but obviously not as much as if you had won the battle.

Battles in TO:LUCT are about as cumbersome as they are in FFT, but that's one of the reasons why I fell in love with FFT and why I really like TO.  Conklederp will confirm that my swearing increases ten fold every time I'm in a battle; if it's missing an attack chanced at 80% accuracy or being gang-killed.

Okay, I'm going to limit myself to talking about only two more aspects that I love about TO.

First.  Apparently the music in the game has been re-orchestrated and it sounds great.  Granted I didn't play any of the original releases of this game so I cannot say "how much" better or worse it sounds, just that it sounds very much like Hitoshi Sakimoto. And, and, AND!, there's a music player included in the menu that also has a notation from the Hitoshi Sakimoto or the arranger Masaharu Iwata about the song.  How flipping awesome is that!?  I love that Square Enix acknowledges the music side of the game to include information about it's composition.  This should be standard in every video game.

Lastly, is the "Personality Test" based around a fictional tarot deck, that is supposed to alter (slightly?) the game based on your answers.  I have no information about how this actually happens, but the questions themselves, I felt, put you in the mindset that this world won't necessarily be a friendly one and that tough choices are ahead.  Below are a couple of my favorites.

XVI: The Tower
A Fire engulfs your home.  Whom do you save from the flames?
-My Beloved
-My Child
-My Parents

(I love how this question is worded.  It's stating that all three are in a burning house, but you can only save one set: your beloved, child or your parents, then watch as the rest die).

XVII: The Moon
In a fit of passion, you take your friend's lover.  What will you do next?
-Keep the lover for my own
-Savor the moment
-Put it from my mind

(The added layer to this question is self imposed, in that I already have a fiance.  So in this instance, I knowingly take my friends lover, running the very high risk of ruining my current relationship, what then would/do I do?  No one is coming out of this unscarred).

So after a nine month hiatus, I'm back into this game and I'm really liking it.  There have already been a number of times when the story split based on a decision that I made and each time I've questioned if I made the right one.  Granted I could "go back" to see what would have happened if I made a different decision, but I don't want to know that, at least right now.  I want to live with the consequences of my actions.  I feel that's where a lot of character development (implied or self induced) comes from and I don't want to rob myself of that emotional experience.

In closing, if you've played Final Fantasy Tactics, you will not at all be disappointed with Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.


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