Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together Review

By Gus Mastrapa - Posted Mar 01, 2011

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a superb tactical role-playing game for the PSP. Deep customization, challenging battles and a smart, branching story give fans of Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars many reasons to very happy.

The Pros
  • Incredibly detailed customization options give tacticians plenty to think about
  • Rewards encourage players to take risks on the battlefield
  • Branching story engrosses with real-world inspiration
The Cons
  • Detailed menus are a lot to digest
  • This game burns hours like a Hummer guzzle gas

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together Review:

It takes a special kind of nerd to love tactical role-playing games. Those rare, but passionate gaming geeks should be very happy right now. Because Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Square Enix's PSP remake of a 1995 Super Famicom Game, is love letter to the obsessive tactics dork.

This highly-polished battlefield simulator delivers all the joys of combat micro-management in a slick package that plays homage to the past while keeping a keen eye on what the modern gamer craves. Tactics Ogre is a tough, complex and meaty role-playing experience – and probably one of the last, truly great games for the PSP.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Armed and Ready

Tactics Ogre is an un-repentantly hardcore game. All the characters and locations are rendered in old-school sprites.  Players call all the shots on the battlefield – triggering every step, every swing of the sword. The game's menus are deep and brimming with data. They're almost daunting at first glance. But players soon learn that all these options carry with them a boatload of customization options.

Tactics Ogre isn't just about killing enemies. It’s about killing them your way. Here that means building a bench of fifty units – nurturing each character through a ladder of skills, spells, equipment upgrades and class changes. Play Tactics Ogre and you'll spend a fair amount of time swimming through menus as you tweak the details of your characters. The real fun begins when the time comes to test your army's mettle.

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Hold Fast

Fights go down on an isometric battlefield. If you've ever played Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars you know the score – its up to you to meticulously maneuver every character, methodically moving them into position then commanding them to whack and burn every jerk who stands in your way. These fiddly, turn-based fights can take a long time to resolve. But its very easy to find yourself lost in the details of warfare. Start playing Tactics Ogre and the minutes turn to hours.  And these lost hours are far from mindless.

Every time you think you've assembled an unstoppable wrecking crew the game throws a new wrinkle at you – a new risk to chase in hopes of earning a new reward.  Downed enemies drop loot, but you have to send one of your units to their corpse to grab the goodies. Players can also attempt to recruit enemy units and monsters – but you have to wear them down to a sliver of health and then stand next to them to convince them to change sides. 

Both battleground distractions tempt the tactician to break rank and potentially open themselves to attack. It's a delicious dance of risk and reward that makes every encounter immensely satisfying. These lures are made all the more interesting by a feature that lets players rewind combat up to fifty moves – allowing players to retrace their moves and correct disastrous decisions rather than replay an entire battle. This tiny, welcome feature encourages greater experimentation in the heat of battle by erasing the negative repercussions of total flame outs. It's only gamer over if you want it to be.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

War With A Point

Tactics Ogre has a plot which many will ignore. That's their loss.  Story here is very well handled – exploring the horrors of war as three ethnic groups struggle for power. Designer Yasumi Matsuno took inspiration from the Yugoslav Wars of the '90s . In the game's earliest moments players are privy to civilian slaughter.

The tragedy casts a pall on the game that is surprisingly effective considering the fact that the characters you're following are made of a dozen or so pixels. But the game goes a long way to make you feel attached to the people you're pushing. Decisions made in conversations and accomplishments on the battlefield push the plot in different directions. Rescue an enemy from a hairy fight and they'll join your side. Let them die and their absence will change the course of history.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

One play of Tactics Ogre could easily absorb dozens of hours – the branching story inject untold replay value on top of an already hearty gaming meal. Those who consider themselves aficionados of the tactical role-playing game have a new obsession. And those curious about the genre have a challenging, but immensely rewarding introduction in Tactics Ogre.