Dungeon & Dragons Tactics
Instead itís Dungeon & Dragons on the PSP! What is not to love about that!
After many years and x amount of attempts to bring Dungeons & Dragons to video game life, recent success with Dungeons & Dragons on the PC have given the franchise a fresh facelift. What with itís Version 3.5 books out now, and a MMORPG world that is languishing in hateful obscurity and all, the franchise is totally riding high onÖ. (skkrrriittt!!)Ö uh. Yeah.
OH-KAY, who didnít see Dungeons & Dragons even having a chance on the MMORPG ever since Blizzard set up their siege fortress aka ďWorld of WarcraftĒ on the battlefield and forever claimed dominance over all things MMORPG? Yeah. I figured even a MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons isnít going to have the same success as WOW! And with rivals like Guild Wars (the one that you play for free), Elder Scrolls (it may be slipping now but once Elder Scrolls V hits weíll be back to praising this franchsie donít you know it) and the bane of MMORPG existence the powerhouse World of Warcraft looking forward to itís 2nd Expansion pack on the horizon? Well, it seems while MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons will find itís nitche in the genre it will not be the head Alpha male in the genre.
At least it has these games branching out looking for domination on other systems.
WellÖ just this actually. I havenít heard of any attempt to raid the PS2, PS3, the XBox360 or the Wii (god how much fun a really good RPG would be on the Wii!) Yeah, weíre high due for more Dungeons & Dragons as long as they keep cranking out quality games (quick, somebody make a Ravenloft Tactics game! Thatíd be fun!).
But as for you? Youíre pondering whether or not to jump into the Dungeons & Dragons bandwagon with Tactics. Should you do so?
WellÖ hereís the thing, and donít get me wrong, the game is funÖ itís just that it is also abit of a commitment to master and get into. But once you get the hang of the game, and get past itís failings that seemingly ice out all but the most diehard of Dungeons & Dragons fans, then you got yourself a new addiction for your traveling shortlist of PSP games you take wherever you go (be it for a trip or a mandatory evacuation due to some disaster of some kind).
Letís start off with the simple matter of fact. Itís a Tactics game. Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
Another in a long string of games that
Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
Dungeons & Dragons Tactics is one of those game, and if you are of the right mindset then it might be the addiction for you. Thing is, however, there are a few things you need to know about this game before you leap into the purchase blindly.
Plus Side-Dungeons & Dragons Tactics is based on the whole game mechanics of the Version 3.5 franchise of Dungeons & Dragons. Me? Iím a Version 2 person myself so I am way behind, but even for someone like me picking up and learning this game isnít that much of a hardship.
Minus Side-Dungeons & Dragons Tactics is based on the whole game mechanics of the Version 3.5 franchise of Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately on one key point (mainly the work you need to do to purchase and sell gear, armor and stuff) they omitted the all important ďcomparison abilityĒ.
Unlike games like Untold Legends or Dungeon Siege : Throne of Agony, no quick easy to reference charts can be pulled up for comparing weapons. In fact the way this game seems to either want you to commit all the facts of your characters quirks with weapons & armor to memory (hard if you are operating the full 6 character party PLUS additional characters you picked up during the adventure), or keep a log of your characters and their weapons/armor traits.
Of course you could just stop off at your local fully armed gaming store (as in paper gaming as opposed to video or card battle combat gaming) and plunk down money on an easy to use quick reference chart packet of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Weapons & Armor charts for you to use while playing this game. Thatíd speed up shopping in a big way.
Minus Side-Another downside tied into the strict construct of the game is the fact that all attacks and so forth are handled through virtual dice rolls. If you remember the few previous games out to date that has used virtual dice in calculating combat systems then you know what Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
Basically you are depending on sheer chance as the PSP sight unseen rolls dice over and over again calculating everything from attacks, to defense, to ranged shooting, to spell success and whatever. This means the 40 or so hours of promised gameplay may all revolve around the fact that one mission can drag on for an hour or three from the slow progressive quality of the game.
Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
You MUST move each and every character of your team independently in order to progress, which can be quite a bit of time consumption in itís own right.
Combat is all done with virtual dice rolls. If you have luck on your side you can quickly rack up hits and roll your way to victory. If you are not so lucky (which seems to be often in this game) youíll find yourself in a bad situation as all of your characters will surround 1-2 enemies yet, for some reason, it take upwards of 30 minutes just to KILL one or two enemies as the endless dice rolling makes what should be straightforward combat into a long chain of endless rolls and counter rolls and rolls upon rolls.
I love this game, I am just not a big fan of virtual dice rolling as a part of game combat mechanics.
Plus Side - Explorable content is here, and levels can be quite massive with lots of content to explore about in. If you like a good dungeon crawl this game should provide you with that.
Minus Side - However there is something I want to bring up concerning the game overall.
It might just be my version but Iíve noticed an occasional glitch that makes a saved game (especially if saved during an adventure in one of the level maps) corrupted to the point that information cannot be retrieved (to the point that it knocks your PSP off and you have to turn it on again and try again). Best cure for this is to have TWO save files. One always saved from the Campaign Map (your backup) and one which can be saved both on the Campaign Map and during Adventures. This way, also, you have a backup just in case your information becomes corrupt after long hours of gameplay (so you wonít lose progress).
Plus Side - Many classes and races await your useage in this game.
Minus Side - Though somehow I didnít really notice much difference between the classes, and the story basically just seems to randomly pick characters to speak the pre-written dialogue without any special consideration for the kind of party you developed (or what races youíre using in any given game). And while I am on the topic of the story? Iíve played a few hours of it now and so far itís nothing overtly special, just a standard run Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
Also setting up your team is time consuming as you have to go through all the setting of stats and abilities and so forth, so having that back-up save file would save you the trouble of having to make a six character team all over again from scratch should your data become corrupted.
Minus Side - Oh, and character generation is limited in the look of your characters. A set of images and only the ability to tweak the hair of your character. Bleah. Sure, it is deeper than the non-existant character generator for Dungeon Siege : Throne of Agony but stillÖ I expected better. Even my old classic standby favorite old school Dungeon & Dragons games from the PC of old had a better character generator than THIS!
Plus Side - A wide array of weapons to play with is at your disposal.
Minus Side - This is counteracted by the sometimes lengthy combat you can expect from the virtual dice rolling youíll be doing throughout this game. Also the character menu system could have offered a quick select option to make battle roll with a little more grace and speed.
Long story short there is a ton of addictive gameplay hereÖ just as long as you donít mind a few things.
Virtual dice rolling, a slight quirk with saved info, a sluggish menu system that could have been faster or more streamline for quicker responses especially during the repetitive actions often used during combat, lack of character generation depth, and an overall sense that this is funÖ but could have been better all the same. Iím having fun playing this, yes, but I wonder just how much more fun Iíd be having right now if at least half the quirks I spoke of (or didnít have time to speak of) were fixed before the gameís release.
Overall Dungeon & Dragons Tactics is fun, but there are lessons to be learned here when the team who made this game go back to the drawing board for Dungeons & Dragons Tactics 2. Learn the lessons well, and bring us an even better game next time out.
Make no mistake, the game earns itself 4 Dungeon Quests out of 5... Itís just that I am hoping the next PSP game out from these people improve on what we have seen here, and totally blow us away.
And donít forget! I want to see you do something with Ravenloft before the end of the decade! With several hellish realms already forged in the original paper version worthy of game content, there is lots of potential in exploring the damnation of the dark shattered realm prison of Ravenloft. (PS, itíd also make a great place to base a expansion pack for MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons).
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