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Review: Ragnarok Tactics for PSP

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Title: Ragnarok Tactics
Price: $29.99
System(s): PSP
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Aksys (GungHo Online Entertainment, Apollosoft, Chime)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity and Use of Tobacco
Pros: Can customize your avatar’s name and appearance, multiple job classes to choose from, can choose character’s response during the story which in turn influences which ending you receive, there are main and side missions to undertake, can relax in battle to restore HP and SP, the game is simple to understand and the character art looks really good. There’s no permadeath if a character falls in battle. There’s a flowchart so you can see which story route you’re on and travel back to a different point in time at any time. There are five different endings.
Cons: It’s quite challenging with only one difficulty level, so players have to play cautiously. Battles take quite a long time to complete. Tutorials provide a lot of information at once on a static screen, which makes it easy to overlook something important.
Overall Score: One thumb up and one thumb down, 77/100, C+, * * 1/2 out of 5

This is the year of Ragnarok for Sony handheld owners. Not only has Ragnarok Odyssey brought a Monster Hunter-style spin-off of Ragnarok Online to the Vita, but Ragnarok Tactics is providing PSP and Vita owners with a Final Fantasy Tactics take. Rest assured that no knowledge of Ragnarok Online is needed. Players can easily jump into Ragnarok Tactics with only the knowledge that it is a strategic RPG inspired by Norse mythology. Just make sure you have quite a bit of patience before you do, as you’ll need it to power through.

A third party gets involved in a war over some land, and their influence will make all the difference

Ragnarok Tactics begins with the player character, a young man or woman who is part of the Toren Militia, out doing good. A group of orcs is causing trouble in the Grantria Peninsula and he/she has headed out with Master Toren to eliminate the problem. Coincidentally, they aren’t the only ones seeking to clean things up. A soldier named Yuri from the Aura Republic is after the orcs because they killed some of his comrades, while a mage named Cynthia from the Branshaldo Empire is there because Branshaldo has declared this area theirs and she wants to clean up the land. Toren, who doesn’t side with either force, makes the group band together to defeat the orcs.

This initial conflict allows players the opportunity to play a major part in an upcoming conflict between the two sides. The tribes of the Aura Republic where living on the Grantria Peninsula first, when Branshaldo came up from nowere to try and stake a claim. The hero or heroine will be tasked with making important decisions throughout the game that will determine what happens to the residents of the Grantia Peninsula, as well as the rest of the world. Don’t worry if you don’t like what’s happening, you can also choose to go to an earlier point in the story on the flowchart to undo your actions.

Going through the motions, even when things get tedious.

For the most part, Ragnarok Tactics is a typical strategic RPG. There’s a plot that eventually involves the entire in-game world. Players get to direct an army of troops in main and side-quest battles. All characters can take up different jobs, which are leveled up separately so they have a regular level and job class level. There are towns in which to restock, regroup and do some rconnaissance. When a battle begins, the party moves across an isometric field, taking turns to move, attack, use special skills or items and generally accomplish some overall goal. It feels very familiar, which has its pluses and minuses. People looking for something revolutionary or different will be disappointed, but people who are craving another difficult, fantasy experience will be comforted by the gameplay and story tropes that appear.

Ragnarok Tactics is challenging. I’m going to come right out and admit that the first battle, I figured the four characters in my party would be strong enough to have my heroine and Cynthia face the wolf and orc to the north and have Toren and Yuri face the wolf and two orcs to the east. Oh, was I wrong. They were rather quickly overwhelmed and I then learned that Ragnarok Tactics will not baby the player. Even at the beginning, players must be cautious and play smart, lest they wind up with only one character against an army of seven.

On the plus side, two kinds of special skills can help overcome battle difficulty in Ragnarok Tactics. All characters have access to Burst Strike abllities and Overdrive ability. Burst Strike allows up to three members of the party to surround an opponent and start beating him or her down. There is also the Overdrive mode, which become available when a gauge filled up by attacking or being attacked is maxed out. The character can then go into Overdrive on a single enemy, using as many as four special skills in a row, so long as their SP holds out. The trick is, both of these special attacks can only be used once per battle per each character, so say the hero could perform one Burst Strike and enter Overdrive mode once. It’s fair, as it keeps the game balanced, but I almost wish Burst Strike could have been used more than once per match.

Ragnarok Tactics‘ difficulty, special skill limitations and need to level grind combine to form one of the game’s biggest faults. The battles are often long and drawn out, far beyond what one would expect. I’d say it’s best to set aside at least 15 minutes for a battle, but to expect to spend 20 minutes or more in one of the more substantial or end-game fights. While there is plenty of opportunity to save, it makes the process of leveling up characters, leveling up characters’ job classes and completing side-quests feel like a chore, to the point where I gave up on level grinding just to make the game go faster.

Ragnarok Tactics is a good fallback RPG

Ragnarok Tactics didn’t wow me. I didn’t immediately bond with the characters. I wasn’t compelled to play for hours on end. It took a good four or five hours before the story really pulled me and made me care about the characters and their world. However, once someone does make the effort to get invested, Ragnarok Tactics proves to be an entertaining adventure and one that does make players want to return to see what happens if he or she were to behave differently during certain key moments of the story. Those looking for an adventure akin to Final Fantasy Tactics or Blazing Souls Accelate should definitely look into Ragnarok Tactics, but those more comfortable with Disgaea should wait for a sale.

Site [Ragnarok Tactics]

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