Archive for the ‘Strategy RPG Reviews’ Category.

Valkyria Chronicles 2 – Staff Review

Valkyria Chronicles 2 had at least four major hurdles to clear: deliver a second helping of the first game’s quirky strategy and action; adhere to the cartoony, yet charming and often beautiful aesthetics; tie it together with a strong narrative; and do it all with the PSP’s hardware. It doesn’t quite clear them all, as it is saddled with competing partial stories and lingering smaller issues from its predecessor. However, VC2 expands intelligently on existing mechanics and smoothly adapts the engine to the portable platform so much that it feels right at home. Continue reading ‘Valkyria Chronicles 2 – Staff Review’ »

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – Staff Review

An exceptionally influential tactical RPG, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is responsible for a large number of the more common elements found in the genre today. As the original printing has been more or less relegated to the status of collector’s item, the PSP remake of Let Us Cling Together is an excellent opportunity for fans of the genre to enjoy this seminal title. There have been a great deal of changes made to the game, and although the core mechanics remain basically unchanged, it has been heavily rebalanced, with new systems and ideas added in order to make it a bit more forgiving. The end result is that Let Us Cling Together is a more than worthwhile play, though the hugely complicated nature of the game, along with some lingering balance issues, makes it difficult to recommend without reservation. Continue reading ‘Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – Staff Review’ »

Valkyria Chronicles – Staff Review

Valkyria Chronicles is an odd beast: a grim war story constructed with standard anime elements, all wrapped around an unusual twist on turn-based strategy and painted with every bright color in the palette.  It’s not always an easy fit, and the plot has an annoying habit of telegraphing its punches.  Yet there’s a respectable narrative at the core, backed by some solid direction and a charming cast.  And if that doesn’t do it for you, the game is still some of the most fun you can have with tanks involved. Continue reading ‘Valkyria Chronicles – Staff Review’ »

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – Staff Review

The early PSOne game Revelations: Persona is widely considered to be the victim of one of the biggest localization hack jobs of all time. Besides a lackluster translation filled with poorly conceived attempts at mythological nomenclature, the localization team saw fit to fiddle with the game’s balance, alter character art in order to make the cast appear more western, and even remove whole sections of the game for no readily apparent reason. And so when a PSP port-slash-remake was announced, there was a great sigh of relief in the Western Hemisphere. And, thankfully, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona does indeed improve vastly on the localization of the original game. Unfortunately, with a poorly executed plot, badly balanced combat system, and a mishmash of aesthetic elements, the game lying hidden underneath the piles of meddling heaped on Revelations: Persona isn’t exactly a diamond in the rough. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – Staff Review’ »

Adventures to Go – Staff Review

When I accepted the review assignment for Adventures to Go, I expected that it would be an easy review that would fit well into my schedule. I could pick up the game, play through an order or two, and set it down for a while. No need to play for hours at a stretch, no deep storyline to follow, and minimal gameplay mechanics to learn.

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Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days – Staff Review

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days continues the recent trend of PSP rereleases, retooling Disgaea 2 and dropping it onto Sony’s handheld with some new features. Although it adds some interesting new content, including an epilogue starring Axel, Dark Hero Days lacks some of the wit and energy that made Disgaea so much fun, at least in the plot department. It doesn’t make too many changes to the Disgaea combat system, and most, if not all, of the really new content introduced for this port is available only after completing the mainline quest, meaning this port will probably be a little dull for gamers who have already sucked the marrow out of the game’s PS2 iteration. Continue reading ‘Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days – Staff Review’ »

Phantom Brave – We Meet Again – Staff Review

We Meet Again, Phantom Brave. It’s been a few years, hasn’t it? You sucked up a healthy portion of my time back on the PS2, you slick little TRPG. I had a blast with your free-and-open gridless maps, your extensive and esoteric concepts of what constituted a “weapon,” and your down-again-up-again story. Yes, we had good times. So how’s that intervening half-decade treated you?

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – Staff Review

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is a game whose ambitious concept tends to be dragged down by a bit of leaden reality. The game presents a highly unique storytelling method, full of branching sub-plots highly responsive to the choices players make, but it can become rather fractured by the time limit imposed on players. The combat system provides a wealth of options, letting players tweak each member’s moveset with a surprising level of control, but the focus on raw levels and the speed by which new demons become old makes it exceptionally difficult to have a consistent strategy. Overall, Devil Survivor is a solid game and a very engaging story, and although it has more than its share of issues, the sense of pressure and the degree to which a player can manipulate the story make Devil Survivor a surprisingly satisfying experience. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – Staff Review’ »

Blurring the Line: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Staff Review

To hear the Warhammer universe tell it, the far future is bleak and brutal. Across the galaxy, humanity lives in constant fear of assault by impossibly huge numbers of aliens. Be they the brutish Orks, the conniving Eldar, or the ravenous Tyranid, there are countless creatures that see humanity as food, pawns, or just someone else to fight. And so humans genuflect to their God-Emperor and the Space Marines, a legion of genetically enhanced super-soldiers who literally exist just for the purpose of fighting. Thus is the setting of Dawn of War II, and throughout its bleak atmosphere it manages to deliver a compelling, if repetitive, twist on the usual real-time strategy formula. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Staff Review’ »

Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume – Staff Review

Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume represents a bit of a step back in time for the series. Where Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria led the series in a more optimistic direction, Covenant of the Plume returns to the tragedy and gloom of the first game in the series, choosing the theme of sacrifice in contrast to Silmeria‘s hope. The game is designed rather well, and the plot is extremely well written, but an overall lack of consistency and an unfortunate rehashing of artistic elements from earlier in the series drags the whole thing down rather badly. Continue reading ‘Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume – Staff Review’ »

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Staff Review #2

Japan was first introduced to the exploits of Prince Marth of Altea in 1990 when Fire Emblem: The Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light was released on the Famicom. In North America, gamers got their first look at Marth in Smash Bros. Melee, a fighting game filled to the brim with various Nintendo characters. With his subsequent appearance in Smash Bros. Brawl, gamers on this side of the world have been eager to learn more about this blue-headed prince. Fortunately, with the DS remake, fans can finally see how the series began with Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.

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Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Staff Review

In 2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee arrived on this side of the Pacific and with it an unlockable character unfamiliar to most North Americans, the Falchion-wielding Marth of Fire Emblem for the NES. Years after its release in Japan, the original Fire Emblem has come to North America, fully remade for the Nintendo DS as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. Continue reading ‘Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Staff Review’ »

Summon Night: Twin Age – Staff Review

There are some games out there that are appreciated for wild adventures full of excitement, intrigue, and surprise. Some other games are appreciated for their elegantly and meticulously crafted presentation. Some, still, grab players by sucking them in with an addictively interesting battle system and fantastic gameplay. Summon Night: Twin Age is not one of these games. At most, it could provide a lighthearted, quick, and rather mindless experience for only the thirstiest of RPG players.

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Shining Force II – Staff Review

When Shining Force II was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console a few weeks ago, Sega fans across North America rejoiced. First released in the 1990s for the Sega Genesis, it is one of the era’s most fondly-remembered games; it is also one of the Genesis’ best-known RPGs. How long are its legs, though? Can it still hold its own in these days of super-powered systems, multi-layered storylines, complicated battle systems, and high-definition graphics?

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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon – Staff Review

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon concerns the efforts of Cid and his partner chocobo, aptly named Chocobo, adventurers who are seeking the assistance of Timeless Power, a gem that they plan to use to build an airship. Along the way, the heroes find themselves thrown into another world, Memoria, where those who listen to the bell of the clock tower will begin to lose their memories. Chocobo gains the ability to enter dungeons created by the memory loss phenomenon and restore the forgotten memories, though many of the townspeople are reluctant to remember at first. In this way, Chocobo can help revive the town. Continue reading ‘Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon – Staff Review’ »

Zoids Assault – Staff Review

For fans of mecha anime, there are few series that lend themselves better to an RPG than Zoids. With such a broad assortment of Zoid frames and equipment, it seems a natural choice for a TRPG. With Zoids Assault, the net result is a mixed bag that does some things extremely well, and some things not as well as a fan might hope. Continue reading ‘Zoids Assault – Staff Review’ »

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice – Staff Review

Nearly five years ago, gamers first got a crack at Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, a quirky TRPG set in the Netherworld. This game mixed a unique blend of humor with tactical combat and defied many of the common conventions of RPGs and of games in general. There really isn’t anything quite like a Disgaea game, and now the series makes its debut on the PlayStation 3 with Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice and improves on the formula in nearly every way. Continue reading ‘Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice – Staff Review’ »

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – Staff Retroview

The Fire Emblem series makes its triumphant return to consoles with the only entry to grace the GameCube, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. The tried-and-true mechanics return with a whole new race of characters to make one of the best RPG experiences to ever grace the console. Continue reading ‘Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – Staff Retroview’ »

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – Staff Retroview

Fire Emblem is among the longest-running RPG series today, and though each new game brings a new plot and characters, each one holds on to nearly the same mechanics. In Fire Emblem, it is a given that if characters die, they are out of the game. Permanently. One can also count on the fact swords beat axes; axes beat lances; and lances beat swords. And, interestingly enough, all weapons will break if used a set number of times. These are truths remain constant and set up the basis for Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Continue reading ‘Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – Staff Retroview’ »

Suikoden V – Staff Retroview

With six games to its name in North America (five regular games and one spinoff: Suikoden Tactics), the Suikoden series had been a staple of the RPG genre — if a bit of a dark horse. Suikoden V is a solid addition to the series as well as a great place for players who’ve never tried the series to get their feet wet. And while the game may not appeal to those interested in a highly complex battle system, Suikoden V is an absolute gem for story gamers, and offers memorable characters, a rich plot and a chance to experience a conflict that moves beyond the typical black and white save-the-world plot of many an RPG. Continue reading ‘Suikoden V – Staff Retroview’ »