Ever since Sony launched the PSP RPG gamers have been clamoring for a solid title to satisfy their portable turn-based needs. While there have certainly been a couple that will entertain you nothing has really stood out among the crowd yet. Developer Idea Factory is hoping to change that with the release of Generation of Chaos, the first of I am sure many Japanese tactical RPGs, by marrying a deep, engaging storyline with some truly addictive game play. Did they manage to pull it off on the first try? Not exactly, but they did succeed in creating a truly deep and appealing title that is sure to appease RPG and tactical gaming fans alike.
GoC certainly packs a lot into its small package. The storyline consists of the cliché factors found in most SRPG titles, you are in control of one nation and there is a giant feud between all the surrounding ones. Each nation consists of one main general, whom you will spend the majority of your time controlling, you also have an impressive amount of control over such things as resources, troops, and of course your main structures. You can even keep track of your forces and even purchase new armor and weapons as you progress deeper into the game. Chaos certainly packs plenty of options for the player willing to invest the time to discover them. This could easily be the most feature packed PSP title to date.
The battles are actually very epic in scale.
All of this however does not come without some hindrances, for instance the way in which these things have been implemented is a tad on the sloppy side. For instance the overall world interface is simply a mess to navigate at times. The menu system will frustrate average gamers for the first two to three hours of game time. With so much to see and do it is truly a shame to have to wrestle with poor menus just to appreciate all the game has to offer. Most players will also find the text hard to read seeing as how the developers decided to abbreviate almost every single line of text. Granted this is a PSP game so not everyone will be playing on a giant HDTV, but scrolling text was created for a reason and it certainly would have been appreciated here.
Eventually you will be able to come to grips with the layout and menu system, but the average player will more than likely lose patience long before they truly discover the amount of depth this game has to offer. For those willing to invest the time though, Chaos delivers a unique experience that is worthy of some of the best tactical RPGs out there.
On the presentation side of things GoC does an admirable job both visually and audio wise. The overall look of the game will undoubtedly remind you of the PSOne titles that have come before it including the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics and of course Ogre Battle. Character animations are limited, but the spell and magic effects are certainly worth watching. The landscapes do leave a little to be desired and expect to see several repeated textures and patterns, but anyone who has played this type of game before knows it isn’t all about the flashy visuals found in other RPGs. On the audio side the music is certainly passable, however it isn’t going to blow your mind in either the composure or the originality. The voice acting is actually very well done on most accounts, sure some of the performances can border on the overly cheesy and dramatic side, but for the most part it is all quality and all packed onto a PSP mini-disc none the less.
The last and obviously most important aspect of any tactical RPG is the combat. GoC actually does a good job of conveying large scale battles while still making them enjoyable to watch. When you begin a battle you by moving onto the square you have several options at your disposal. You begin by selecting a formation, and then you can order your general to kill everything, focus on a commander, or simply defend your area. Most of the time the overall goal is to destroy the commander, but you will find other objectives such as destroying fortifications.
This is a special move not a fanboy fantasy…disappointed aren’t you?
During any battle you can issue new commands by tapping the X button. This will allow you to reposition your forces or even call for a super attack. These consist of magic and special physical attacks that can affect a large range of enemies at once. These are of course limited to your point set and are a treat to watch when in effect. Some units are also affected by terrain and time of day, for instance Vampires will turn into bats during the day and so on. They can also obtain certain advantages such as having a werewolf on your side during a foggy battle. After each battle you can take the opposing commander captive and either release or execute him. You can also attempt to persuade him to your side which can be fun seeing just how many officers you can get under your control. The game allows up to 50 user-controlled officers, but managing that many at one time is simply too much for just about anyone.
When all is said and done Generation of Chaos is a true gem of a game buried in some questionable menus and a sloppy interface. The depth of the game is absolutely astonishing and will certainly reward anyone willing to spend the time to come to grips with it. Considering this is the first attempt we can only anticipate future titles ironing out these small quirks and creating a truly outstanding tactical RPG for on-the-go gaming, for now GoC will certainly suffice and even impress to those with enough patience to learn the ins and outs of the system. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre, casual fans need not apply.