Saturday, January 10, 2009

Inescapable D&D

I know that I was going D&D free for the past month or so and I guess I can say that is true, kind of. I did not roll any dice or break out my D&D books for any reason over the holidays so in that I was truthful. However, I did receive a copy of Dungeons & Dragons Tactics to play on my PSP for Christmas and believe me I have been wearing it out.
The game is based on the 3.5 rules so it is familiar. The game stays pretty true in feel to the pen and paper version in almost every way. Everything from character creation to the use of spells feels like a real D&D game. Granted there were some liberties taken, but over all I didn't notice or care.
Characters kind of look like minis that are moving around a table map which was a nice addition. The story is one big campaign broken down into smaller adventures. Which is nice since I often don't have time to play a full 4-6 hour adventure. Overall the game takes about 30 hours to complete which isn't bad for a PSP game.
Character creation is pretty basic for someone familiar with the RPG and has just about all the options you have available in the PHB, including those damn Gnomes. You can pick a pre-generated party or build your own, but you really do need to keep party balance in mind. I tried making a magic heavy party with no rogue and no figher and got my butt kicked when we ran out of spells. Since it was still the first adventure I took it as a lesson learned and rebuilt my part. As the game goes on and your characters die, you can hire premade characters at various points. I've had to hire 3 wizards so far and have yet to find a place to ressurect the old ones.
  1. The game is D&D 3.5 and a lot of fun. Granted it isn't the same as sitting down with friends but it is a nice substitute when you don't have a game going on.
  2. The storyline isn't bad, I've played with DMs that have come up with worse (myself included), and overall it is somewhat interesting. I've actually decided to set up a campaign based on the one in the game. Granted I will embelish and change a lot of the details and add more depth. I will also allow the characters to interact with the NPC villagers and kill them if they feel the need.
  3. You can actually tell the difference in your characters as they progress in levels, this helps give the illusion that you are accomplishing something.
  4. You get to play with a full party of 6 for most of the game, your primary character and 5 party members, which enables you to keep party balance and include a variety of characters. Unless you do something stupid like I did and make a one sided party.
  5. Cross class training is also an option, so you can min/max your character with almost the same customization as in the actual pen and paper game.
  1. The camera angles during certain missions suck. They jump around and at times you can't see what is going on so you have to constantly reorient the view.
  2. My main complaint with the game is the fact that there aren't enough side quests. Granted you can, at certain points, pick your path, but for the most part you only have limited choices and kind of need to follow the story. Of course it is a video game and you can't just do what you want, but it would be nice if there was a little more Knights of the Old Republic or GTA feel to the game. It would be nice if I could just run through the village picking fights with random NPCs but that isn't an option. Some times you just wanna kill stuff.
  3. There is actually no real NPC interaction, this is just a straight duneon delve. Here is the mission, go kill the goblins/zombies. But what the game lacks in actual roleplaying, it more than makes up for in action, which is pretty much constant.
  4. Controlling a party of 6 can be cumbersome. While it gives you the ability to make sure every necessary skill is covered, it does make it difficult to keep track of all the characters when eveyrone is in different areas.
  5. Encumberance is also a pain. If you have one character that isn't carrying much they get can get waaaay ahead of others and get pinned down by six monsters while you spend the next 2-3 turns trying to get eveyrone else there to help. So you have to try and keep everyone together, which can be tiresome and boring.
Overall I love this game and think the wife made a wise choice in finding this gem for me. As scheduling conflicts keep my group from actually gaming, I still get to play. I can't wait for a 4e version of this game, if they ever make one. Definitely something any D&D fan should pick up for those times in between game nights.