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Found 36 results

  1. Number 905

    Review: Ragnarok Tactics

    Developer: ApolloSoft Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PSP Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T Free-to-play MMOs are made and shutdown every day, making it a genre that provides a nice distraction, but one that struggles to create a lasting impact or franchise. Back when the genre was emerging, though, some games managed to create a name for themselves, one of which was the Korean-made Ragnarok Online. Since launch, the game has seen countless updates, shifts in pay schemes to compete with the expanding market, and even a failed sequel. Despite such setbacks, the Ragnarok brand still occasionally steps out of the MMORPG realm, with the latest entry being ApolloSoft“s Ragnarok Tactics for the PSP. Combining the world of Ragnarok Online with the gameplay of a strategy RPG, Ragnarok Tactics offers an experience that, while not a knock-out, manages to satisfy. The story opens by outlining the history of Tactics' world, unfortunately not the same world as Ragnarok Online. Tensions are mounting between the Branshaldo Empire and the Aura Republic over control of land while the independent Toren Militia is investigating an increase in monster attacks. Your character is thrown into the middle of this conflict, with the choice eventually falling on you to choose which sides to prioritize and fight for. While the characters aren't very compelling and the story sometimes feels like a morality play, the sheer amount of branches to the story is impressive. Though you get a glimpse of what happens on other paths, Tactics is definitely a game designed for multiple playthroughs, with a huge amount of content for those with the patience to play the game more than once. Unfortunately, patience is something you will need in spades to get through the game. Battles are long affairs. With a combination of huge maps, AI that usually only moves when you“re in range, and the sheer number of opponents you“re always against, expect to spend 40 minutes on average in each battle. While this can make the gameplay feel like a chore, the biggest issue is that there“s no real difference between the scale of a story battle and that of a free battle, making some moments seem more uneventful than they should be. Were it not for the ability to save at any time during an encounter, Ragnarok Tactics would be the antithesis of a portable game. Like in an MMO, you have a good amount of control behind the appearance, voice, and skill/stat build of your characters. Those familiar with Ragnarok Online will mostly be at home with Tactics' job and stat system, though jobs are locked into using certain weapons and some jobs aren“t in the game at all. Also, not all jobs are created equally, with a couple being exceedingly overpowered compared to the rest due to their attack stat also being a stat that governs speed. Outside of that, the gameplay is competent and, thankfully, doesn“t match the grind of the MMO that inspired the SRPG. Visually, Tactics is a reminder that even last generation“s portables can still show some muscle. Though battlefields are often reused, they feature interesting aesthetics and are sometimes revisited with different weather effects. Probably the best feature of Tactics is the character art, which manages to be reminiscent of Ragnarok Online while still maintaining its own style and identity. The battle sprites are instantly identifiable as their jobs and fans will be glad to see small touches like the casting circle. On the audio front, the game offers a solid soundtrack, though it would have been nice to hear variations on familiar Ragnarok Online songs. Voice clips are played in Japanese during battle and, while some of them are truly grating, there are multiple options for both genders. At the end of the day, Ragnarok Tactics doesn't offer anything unique to the genre, nor does it offer as satisfying of a use of the brand as it could have. Still, it manages to be completely inoffensive so long as you don“t mind long battle times on a portable system. For those that Tactics can hook in, there are a multitude of story paths and options to take that could easily eat up hundreds of hours. As someone who came into Tactics purely for the Ragnarok branding, that“s not me, but it“s hard not to be impressed with how much content is up for grabs, showing that Ragnarok Tactics isn“t just some hollow attempt to cash in on the MMO“s success. Pros: + Large, branching story mode + Beautiful scenery and character art Cons: - Long battles - Designed for multiple playthroughs Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Although nothing earth-shattering, Ragnarok Tactics offers just enough to keep fans of Ragnarok Online and SRPGs satisfied.
  2. Developer: Career Soft Publisher: Atlus Platform: PSP (also playable on Vita) Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is the fourth entry of the tactical role-playing series 'Growlanser,“ which initially debuted on the Sony Playstation in 1999. Like previous games, Wayfarer of Time is known for its pseudo real-time strategic battles, branching story paths, and a multitude of endings. The PSP version of Wayfarer of Time, renamed from the unfortunate Japanese title of Growlanser: Over Reloaded, is the definitive version of the original PS2 game. With new story scenarios and characters, the 2003 release gets a well-deserved tribute on a portable system. Considered by many fans to be the best entry in the series, does Wayfarer of Time have what it takes for a fitting swan song on the ever-dwindling PSP hardware? The player assumes the role of the promising mercenary, named by default as ”Crevanille,' a member of the highly-acclaimed Alten Schwart Brigade. Recently tasked with his first true mercenary contract, he is dispatched to protect a small island faction in order to help turn the tides of an oppressive country“s military takeover. That is, until the resurgence of the ”Angel“ - an all-powerful being regarded as a harbinger of death and bringer of catastrophe in ancient times - sets the island and the inhabitants aflame in a terrifying display of power. Shortly after having narrowly escaped with his life, Crevanille and the few remnants of the once-proud brigade decide to disband and go in search of new lifestyles. Crevanille sets off and begins his journey, deciding upon how to face the looming Angel threat among the tumultuous political landscape. With what would seem like an odd hodgepodge of dark political intrigue and sci-fi/fantasy elements, the storytelling is actually pretty engaging in Wayfarer of Time. Despite what one may take away from the implication of the fantastical story component, it actually presents a darker and more grounded approach to its narrative, and has no qualms emphasizing the mortality of its world and inhabitants. Like many games in the genre, it is a little slow to unravel, feeling somewhat contrived and controlled in the earlier stretches. As it progresses, however, it's easy to feel a genuine concern for the world and the driving force behind the various characters, further propelled by the consequence of player input. As a whole, it is a large-in-scope narrative, and the localization fleshes it out well. Growlanser, as a series, has always had an interesting and different approach to what is often associated with Japanese strategy RPG“s combat systems. By blending both turn-based and RTS elements into one, Wayfarer of Time makes for something that's not quite as methodical and stiff as a normal Japanese strategy RPG, nor is it as overbearing on a macro level, and a test of speed, like many RTS games. As an end result, it is a surprisingly intuitive pseudo real-time system that shouldn't overwhelm newcomers, and brings over many tactical options of both. At its best, it“s a flexible and fun combat system with lots of variety in mission objectives. At its worst, it has some inherent clunkiness and crushing difficulty spikes that encourage the occasional grind. Outside of combat, players are free to venture off to various locales or undergo a vast array of activities. The most notable of the activities is how the game handles sidequests. Some sidequests are straightforward enough, like escorting a merchant in hopes of a monetary reward or exploring a dungeon in order to obtain rare loot, but for a surprisingly large majority of them, they play on a more personalized reward. Everything from expanding upon the game's many subplots and the relationships with various characters, like 'bromances' to romances, to more direct consequences like altering the fate of certain characters and events of the main narrative, are valid rewards. Proudly boasting 40+ endings and several story branches, Wayfarer of Time offers a lot to do, and does a fairly good job enticing players to do multiple playthroughs. At first glance, it would be hard to compliment the visuals of the game. To be fair, it does very much look like a PS1 game, despite having actually been originally on the PS2. Character sprites are basic and hardly dissimilar from previous iterations of the series. Similarly, the environments are bland and uninspired throughout, as if plucked directly from a stock of RPG background catalogs. Conversely, the well-drawn character portraits, reminiscent of 90s era-anime, bring a distinct personality to the series and the occasional anime cutscenes features well-done and crisp animation to complement it, even if they are too few and far between. These flaws aren't unnoticeable, but because of the strong gameplay and narrative that propels it, it can be easy to overlook the lackluster presentation. Due to budget constraints, Atlus was forced to omit voice acting of any sort, outside of the few anime cutscenes prevalent in the Japanese version. This may come off as disappointing for some, but there's definitely an audience who would prefer it without. Also on the audio front, the music isn't very impressive, favoring synthesized tracks over more instrumental compositions. That isn“t to say the music bad, since it really isn't. A few tracks stand out, but as a whole, the soundtrack just isn't particularly memorable. Fans of strategy RPGs should be proud that Atlus brought this great title overseas. It's not without its flaws, with unforgiving difficulty curves and a presentation that doesn't bode well even on the PSP hardware, but it remains, at its core, an addictive strategy RPG that is absolutely dense with content and interesting storytelling. Tactical role playing fans, and even PSP owners in general, would do themselves a quite a disservice by overlooking this gem. Pros: + Localization showcases narrative and cast + Multiple story branches/endings and sidequests demand replay + Interesting combat system with lots of variety in mission objectives Cons: - Basic 2D visuals and bland environments - Immense difficulty spikes for certain missions - Not very memorable music for the most part Overall Score: 8.0 (out of 10) Great A unique and fun take on the strategy RPG formula. Dense with content and some interesting storytelling fans of the genre should not overlook it despite some minor missteps.
  3. We're just under a week out from the release of Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time now, and as such, Atlus has released a new trailer for the SRPG. Enjoy it, folks - you're looking at what could be the very last PSP title to release unless Square-Enix decides to bring Final Fantasy Type-0 stateside or Grand Knights History is picked up by another publisher (hey Atlus...). Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time tells the story of a land that was nearly wiped out a long time ago by evanescent divine beings, and is now once again threatened by the same beings who will destroy the world unless a hero rises to stop them. This fourth (previously unreleased in North America) installment in the Growlanser series releases next Tuesday, July 31 in retail stores and digitally on the Playstation Store.
  4. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Review

    From the album: Gungnir

  5. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 7

    From the album: Gungnir

  6. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 6

    From the album: Gungnir

  7. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 5

    From the album: Gungnir

  8. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 4

    From the album: Gungnir

  9. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 3

    From the album: Gungnir

  10. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 2

    From the album: Gungnir

  11. Marshall Henderson

    Gungnir Screenshot 1

    From the album: Gungnir