|By Charlie Goodrich||Monday, 24 May 2010|
Laevatein Tactics (LT) seemed like an good purchase. I was about to return to China and wanted to get a strategy RPG to occupy some of my best american essays time. After visiting the local game emporium I decided to get Hero’s Sage Laevatein Tactics. The cover features some armor clad warriors and some evil looking dudes in helmets that look bad ass. I was excited to jump right in. The fifteen hour plane ride seemed to provide me with the perfect setting to start my adventure. Unfortunately I was wrong. The first battle came and went and so did my desire to play this on a plane. I liked the game but the battle took so long to complete that I lost interest and decided to watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid instead. On the ground I gained a better appreciation for LT. It takes some time to adjust to the battle system and length these battles can be, but after you do that you can find a good tactics game.
The battles are initially setup like every other tactics game out there. You select your troops and take to the field. Then you start to notice some differences. On many battle fields you can capture basses. If a hero (your characters) stands on a base he/she receives a small bit of health back at the start of each turn. You can also build up moral by standing close to a base. Once captured, a base emits a red colored radius. Placing your characters in the red increases their moral which is important for accuracy and evasion. Another difference is when you engage an enemy in combat. You go into a battle screen with your hero on one side and the enemy on the other. However, you are not alone. You and the enemy start with eight soldiers in front of the hero character. You can target either the soldiers or the hero. The soldiers provide additional protection and attack so it can be beneficial to kill them before striking down the main enemy. In addition to deciding who to attack, you have to select an attack formation. You can do a charge attack which is a strong attack but with lower accuracy, a normal attack with has no defensive or offensive bonus, or you can perform a phalanx attack that has a high accuracy but lower attack power. The attack you choose is important and should depend on the status of your opponent. It adds some depth to the battle system but most of the time I spent my time attacking normal. I was able to get through most of the game this way. This game has a triangle-like system that seems popular in tactics games. LT uses elements as a balance. Each weapon has an elemental affiliation (earth, lightning, water, and fire) that affects there abilities against certain enemies. For example, a water hero will do well against a fire hero. Each hero also has a graph which shows his/her strength with each element. Every hero can equip each element but there is usually one that they excel with. It becomes important to develop a well rounded team if you are going to succeed in this game. The final unique aspect of this battle system is the Valhalla Break. This is a super strong attack that can usually kill an enemy in one hit. It works the same way as limit breaks in Final Fantasy VII. The more your hero battles the more a bar fills up. When the bar is filled you can unleash the attack. For most of the game battles are spent filling your Valhalla bar and rushing the enemy, but towards the end of the game this no longer works because the enemies can usually survive these attacks. There are many obvious ways the creators of this game tried to balance the fighting, however, until the end of the game these measures don’t come into effect. This would be a decent battle engine to build on though.
The story is the classic good empire against evil empire mold. The story revolves around powerful weapons called the Vaettir Arms. These weapons were used by the evil empire to force the other kingdoms to comply with their rule. The tables are turned when a small kingdom gains possession of the Vaettir Arms and decides to take on their aggressor. Unoriginal at first but there is a good twist that reveals the Vaettir Arms as more than weapons of war. When the twist happens it seems interesting but after a few missions I began to lose interest just like I did with the original story. Not the best story but not the worst either.
LT suffers greatly in the sound department. The sound effects are horrific. Every time you attack an enemy it sounds like a laser pistol is shooting them. You have to listen to this effect throughout the entire game often in rapid succession. I turned the sound off after about five battles. That doesn’t say much for the music. It is repetitive and uninspired. I found that silence is a preferable option than suffering through the sound in LT.
This game also suffers from randomness. Weapons and heroes are both important to this game. Weapons determine your hero’s class and element, however, it is random if you get good weapons and heroes. After winning a battle you are presented with spoils in the form of Vaettir Arms. This is the only way to get the best weapons in the game. Shops sell weapons but you’ll have a limited selection if you relay solely on the shops for your arsenal. It’s also random if characters decide to join your party at the end of a battle. The problem with just using anyone you recruit is that not everyone is equal. Some heroes are much better than others and you can go the whole game without having a chance to recruit them. The final problem with this game is the controls. You would think a tactics game would use the stylus to move troops and select commands. It would certainly make the game move faster instead of having to use the d-pad to operate everything. This game refuses to take advantage of the DS touch screen and all movement and selection must be made with the d-pad. This usually isn’t an issue but the controls are sluggish.
While there are some major flaws with this game, it is certainly something to build on. The combat is unique and with some small changes be improved greatly. I guess that is what most of this game amounts to. Small changes would go a long way in improving this game. Regardless of what could be, this is still an alright game. I don’t regret buying it or playing through it. I like tactics games enough to be satisfied. That’s a good way to sum this up. If you really like playing strategy RPGs and have $20-25 to blow check out Hero’s Sage Laevatein Tactics. If you have more than $30 to spend you could find something better.