Ragnarok Tactics Review For PSP
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Portable.
For those of you who simply cannot get enough of Ragnarok Online, now you can take it on the road in tactical form by downloading Ragnarok Tactics on your PSP or PS Vita! When you first start the game, you are told the story of the lands: long ago, two great nations, the Branshaldo Empire and the Aura Republic, engaged in a long and drawn-out war over possession of the Grantria Peninsula (a piece of land between the two rivals). Eventually a treaty was formed, but the bitterness between the two nations remained, and the threat of war was never completely out of reach.
You begin the game by creating a customizable character from head-to-toe visually, and then choosing a class. The class system is the same as Ragnarok Online, so if you enjoy the character you created in the MMO, you can rebuild your character and see how they fare in a tactical RPG world, or try something completely new! The type of character you pick determines the fighting style. For example, a Champion uses melee with a heavy defense, while an Assassin has powerful ranged attacks, but is defensively weak. Don’t worry, it’s not all attack and defence options in this game, as there are plenty of other characters like a Dancer, or even a Paladin, if you are more of a magic user.
Once you’ve prepared your character and start the main story, you discover you are not actually part of the Branshaldo Empire, nor are you in league with the Aura Republic. You are part of the Toren Militia, a group of unaligned warriors who have taken up the purpose of protecting the innocent, regardless of their alignment. You set out with Toren (the obvious leader of the Toren Militia, and your commanding officer) on a mission to eradicate the monsters that have been terrorizing several areas that surround your homeland. On the way, you run into a young man named Yuri, who is in the Aura Republic Military, and then later Cynthia, a girl from Branshaldo who join you in your quest. Though others eventually join your party, these are the four main characters you play with at the beginning of the game.
A very big frustration with the layout of the game is in the menu, specifically how you purchase items and how you customize your character. To equip your character with any weapons or armour, you have to visit Town, go to a Guild Menu (which lists all of your characters), and select X to see the status of a particular character. The only way you can view stats and compare items you’ve either purchased from a store or want to purchase is in the store itself via their Try On Menu. There is also a Buy or Sell Menu, but if you don’t know what you are buying, these two options are useless. The Try On Menu does just that: it lets you try on equipment and buy it if it suits your character. This layout seems much more complicated than it needs to be, with menu options that aren’t helpful, and every time you want to equip something, you have to re-enter Town to do it!
A major part of this game is the ability to choose your own path. As mentioned before, you begin as part of the Toren Militia, and are not aligned with either the Republic or the Empire. As you progress, the responses you choose during the dialog options of the story, as well the decisions you make, ultimately design your fate and who you align yourself with. If you are sarcastic and mean towards certain people or party members, you’ll find them less willing to work with you, so keep that in mind before trying to be a wise guy. Some of your decisions could also lead to the untimely demise of one of your characters, so you’ll need to pay attention to the way you play the game! There are five alternate endings you can have depending on the decisions you make, and the neat thing about this is that you are able to go back and retry an entire arc to see if there is an outcome you would prefer. This makes the game much more advanced than your average, tactical role-player, as you can relive the experiences and really see what it would be like on the other side.
The controls are very rudimentary, but the options within are what make Rangarok Tactics more like a game of chess than the simple turn-based system of your average RPG. Your team (in the beginning that includes you, Yuri, Toren, and Cynthia – all playable characters in battle) and your enemies are set on a playing field, squared off like an invisible grid. These squares hold one character (enemy or otherwise), and you have to move your characters in the direction you want them to seat yourself properly for an attack. Some characters are weaker, so they should remain further back, and others are meant to take most of the damage. Be aware how you are moving your characters to gain a tactical advantage – if you have a Mage who specializes in healing too far away from your Champion, you may find that you are unable to assist your Champion when he needs healing the most. In this game, planning ahead by several moves is the most important thing you will need to learn.
On the battlefield, you will also notice that sometimes there are chests located in random places. These hold items that benefit your players, such as HP Boosts, so make sure to get these chests before you kill your last enemy, because once the enemy is dead, you exit the battlefield and you will miss out on the helpful items within. Another unique command is that you can Relax on the battlefield at the end of your character’s individual turn. This command allows that character to sit down, healing a bit of SP or HP.
Visually, this game is wonderful. You can understand that as a game tailored to a portable device, it’s not going to be the most epic viewing material you will come across. The characters, during cutscenes, are quite literally cut-outs of anime characters that shuffle on and off the screen as they are talking, however they do slightly change their poses and facial expressions. The backdrop for these scenes is static, and with the rotation of speaking characters, it is as if you are standing around a group of your friends in first person, discussing the day’s events. When you’re out in the world fighting evil, the landscape is well thought out, with little babbling brooks or broken bridges getting in your way on the battlefield, or even pieces of fallen rock. During battle, the attacks are very true-to-life, and you can actually see things like the lighting crashing down and hitting multiple locations, or the arrow moving from your bow and hitting your enemy smack-dab in the chest. The only flaw in the visuals would be that the characters in-play look like a slightly more polished version of our classic Final Fantasy IV characters, which do not fit into the rest of the scenery, the actions performed during battle, or even the characters during cutscenes. The characters’ portraits are also in this format, instead of the uniquely designed cutscene characters, making it hard to differentiate between them at times unless you remember all of their names.
Along with the visuals inevitably comes the overview of the music, and it is compelling on many different levels. The developers took the time to add specific details to each segment of gameplay music. In Town, you get a light-hearted regal feel with a guitar tune, tambourines, and a piano accompaniment, whereas the main map view has music flowing softly into your ears via wooden flute and shakers, creating a more peaceful journey as you travel. Each song is carefully planned out to ensure maximum entertainment for the player, and there is a wide variety of music to listen to. Whether calming you down or pumping you up, Ragnarok Tactics never ceases to deliver on this front, from start to finish.
Regardless if you are interested in this game because you are obsessed with the Ragnarok Online, or enjoy tactics RPGs as a whole, Ragnarok Tactics was a fun game with a good replay value to it. Although it was technically released for PSP only, don’t be discouraged as you can absolutely download and play it on your PS Vita. The positives of Ragnarok Tactics far outshine the negatives, and you’ll be happy to have a game you can revisit with a new character (or the same character) and change the entire story!
Ragnarok Tactics receives a 4.25/5.0
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