But whatever Ogre Battle 64
lacks in graphical depth, it makes up for ten times over in the depth of its gameplay. Yes, the gameplay is very similar to the original game on the SNES
--indeed, those of us who played the original will have almost no learning curve as you jump into the game. And while the curve is a little steep for the rest of the world, it's definitely worth the climb; Ogre Battle 64
, like its two predecessors, provides more gaming bang for the buck than any other similar videogame series created, bar none. One may argue that there are
no similar gaming series out there, and you'd be mostly right; that doesn't change the fact that OB64
I know the 'bang for the buck' statement sounds like gross lauding, but when you look at the levels of complexity that Ogre Battle 64 lets you attain, it's hard to deny that there's enough to tweak here to keep any serious gamer happy for weeks, even months. The vast selection of character classes and the ways that you can combine those units into groups are absolutely mind-boggling, and there's absolutely no Right Way to do it--you can play the game as you like, and discover your own ways of 'doing it all'.
All right, let's put away the fanboy hyperbole for a moment. Ogre Battle 64 details yet another part of the Ogre Battle Saga--this time, following the exploits of one Magnus Gallant, a fresh new member of the Palatinean Army. Unfortunately, said kingdom of Palatinea is busy being stepped on by the Holy Lodis Empire (sound familiar?), and Magnus isn't too crazy about the rampant corruption and discord in the upper levels of the Kingdom. Not too far into the game, all hell breaks loose, and soon Magnus is fighting for liberty in the only way RPGs know how--battles upon battles upon battles.
Indeed, Ogre Battle 64 consists of a long series of battles, interspersed with cutscenes that move the plot along. These battles take place on 'field maps', which have a number of cities--allied, enemy, or neutral--and other points of interest. You're given an objective for any given battle, and things that you cannot allow to happen (death of Magnus, for example), and you're let loose upon the battlefield.
This works fine for the first few battles, but then you have to really start strategizing. There are roughly a million variables that you can tweak. Every character in the game is of a certain class, and most of those classes can be changed, if there is equipment available and the character has the proper statistics. The game keeps track of everyone's alignment--fighting weaker enemies lowers your alignment, while fighting stronger ones raises it. Certain classes are only available to those of a particular alignment, further complicating the mix. There's also a huge array of weapons and armour, which can be equipped on your characters. Of course, every class has its own rules for equipping.
The battles themselves are run in real-time. You can set out your groups from the main camp, and then direct them around the map. They get fatigued and have to rest; they get in fights; they liberate or capture cities, and so on. There's a lot to keep track of, so the ability to pause the game and get a look at what's going on is crucial.
The battles themselves are a lot more hands-off than most people have come to expect from RPGs. You can give your units general orders, such as Attack Leader or Attack Strongest, but you don't actually control what they do. Instead, your units are placed on a 3x3 grid. Depending on the row that they're on, they have particular attacks. This can get fiendishly complex, so experimentation (or a strategy guide) is necessary for full comprehension of just what's going on.
There's a lot more to the game--the engrossing plot, the many hidden classes and characters, the absolutely crazy things you must do sometimes to get events to happen--but suffice it to say that Ogre Battle 64 is absolutely jam-packed with gaming goodness.