To be totally honest with you, this is the first Atlus
game Ive ever played. I didn't even know who they were until this game, but after doing my research, I see they get a load of love from many Dtoiders as producers of the most awesomage of games. What drew me in though was the neat combat-path system Id seen in the screenshots. I didnt even stop to see a trailer, I just knew I had to have this game and plonked down my order with Play-Asia. It turned up the other day, and despite having more important work to do, Ive still put in a fair few hours (which I will undoubtedly pay for as my work deadline draws to a close). Still, I thought Id write up a few things that have impressed and dismayed me about the play-time Ive had with it so far. Sleaze-bag, or worlds greatest unnapreciated lover? Story
I could'nt give a rats ass about the story. Something about a king dying and a prince trying to save his kingdom yada yada j.r.r tolkien final fantasy etc. You can find more out here
. Its not what Im playing this game for, but I can see they put a lot of work into it and they make sure its easy enough to follow. There's a lot of talk in between battles in the form of character speeches, but your only real option is to press A to move the talk along. So an RPG this is not, but some of the character speeches are still halarious - Ive really begun liking Marcus, whos every conversation seems to revolve around a sleazy line about getting laid. In combat sometimes the characters will also chat amongst themselves depending on who they are next to on the combat floor, and this gives you a bit more background on the situations and helps to break up the endless combat. What I was not expecting though, is the fact that this game is linear as hell. Some people say some stuff, you fight a battle (sometimes you have to escape, sometimes you have to protect civilians and such), some people say some more stuff, you save and go on to the next battle. Thats really all there is too it. No exploring, no choosing your own path in a Puzzle-Questesque type exploration system, just talk, fight, talk, fight. Nevermind though, because even though its linear and most games like that make me want to bathe my face in acid, like I said, Im playing for the combat anyway. Charge them at impossibly tight right angles men! Also, how did you get that horse up them stairs anyway? Gameplay
The meat and bones of the game, and really its best selling point. Combat is where the action is, and you won't be found wanting. In combat you can choose to draw out your paths with the stylus, but Ive found it a lot more comfortable using the buttons. Still, the path drawing for characters movement is brilliant. Each character has a certain amount of movement points they can use to move. Your ending point for your movement must be on an empty space, but choosing your path there are various tactics to consider; you can pick up bonuses from moving through certain friendly characters, and attack enemies as you pass through them. Angling your attacks is also a tactic to consider - depending if you come from the front, side or back of an enemy, they have a better chance to make a counter attack and halt your path. The same goes for your character, so it is always best to try to face your enemy head on. A lot of time can be spent in combat just trying to work out where each character should move to so that you can gain the advantage over your enemies. As you move through the enemies you get little cut scenes of them attacking which, thankfully, you can skip. This bitch is useless. I havent taken her to a combat once where she hasnt gotten brutally raped by men in stupid hats.
Other things to consider are Momentum Counters and Over Breaks. Each character has a momentum counter, and the higher it is the more likely it is that the enemy will attack them, as well as gaining higher experience and your OB bar filling up faster. I havent really noticed the enemy attacking me because of higher momentum and it really doesnt seem all that useful. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Over Breaks, or OB's are the RoS equivelent of Limit Breaks, and these do
come in pretty handy, as they are high powered attacks that usually take out quite a few enemies. Chargin iz lazers!
From what little playtime I've had, I've found that ideally you should take your time with combat, and don't be suprised if you end up redoing a mission several times because of rushing in or a miscalculation in your tactics. Not only that, but this game is HARD - It will strap you down and spank your arse until it's the colour of the Union Jack. Theres no difficulty option, only pure unrelenting savagery. Even some of the training missions took me a while to complete, and when you can't get through a tutorial without dying, you know not to take the main game lightely. I think this is part of the reason that when you do
succeed, you feel a great sense of achievment from having passed particularly difficult parts. Controls & Inbetween Combat
The menu is annoying to navigate, but thankfully you only have to deal with them after combat. Under formations it lets you remove characters, see their info and change their skills and gear. This would be fine except on the formations menu the A button is used to remove people from your party and X looks at info. In the info menu A is used to proceed through the menus and X is used to end and go back. This doesnt seem like I problem but when your rushing through the menus the fact I have to remember that X is used to go forward into info instead of the A button, which it is in EVERY OTHER GODAMNED MENU means I invariably keep chucking people out of my squad instead of looking at the character I want to see. Just a small annoyance, but still stupid.
Inbetween combat is also the time when you can use those useless members of the party and make them do something useful for once in the Errands menu. Basically, characters can opt out of going into the next battle to do some kind of errand instead, which range from quests for items to selling and buying things in the shop to training up their skills. Unless they are hurt. Characters get hurt if they die in combat (unless its your prince, in which case game over man, game over!). Hurt characters cant go on errands, but they can go into battles at severely reduced stats. As I said, this game is brutal and as more characters get hurt it only seems to get harder to not have them die. Damn you Rondo, cant I be the one fighting the peasants for once? We'd love to do some errands but you suck at this game and we're all at deaths door.
All in all, I find it hard to hate this game despite its flaws. The combat is fun and challenging, but sometimes becomes more than a little overbearing as whole armies are released on your small militia of guys. If your a turn-based geek like me, you'll love this game and are probablly playing this right now. If your not, stop playing X-com and go buy this RIGHT NAOOOO DAMMIT. For everyone else, the difficulty and linearity may put you off, but even if your just a passing fan of turned based games, if you fancy a challenging game that will test your gaming skill will you ride the bus, you can't go wrong with Rondo of Swords.