Monday, August 03, 2009
Tactical RPGs - the lost genre
I spent my holidays without a PC, just checking my e-mail once or twice a week in an internet café. But I own a PSP handheld console just for occasions like that, and brought that one with 7 games. But I ended up playing only one game for the whole 3 weeks: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. Played it through completely, and then started over to replay the first half without all the stupid newbie mistakes one is bound to make in a complicated game like this. Immense fun, and great value for money. And on my way home it struck me: Why isn't there anything like Final Fantasy Tactics on the PC?
Final Fantasy Tactics is part of a genre called tactical role-playing games, and there are tons of games of that kind: The Disgae series, the Fire Emblem series, and many single titles. But most of them are Japanese, and not always available in the US/Europe, and nearly all of them are for various video game consoles. On the PC there are similar games, like Fallout Tactics, the X-COM / UFO series, or the Jagged Alliance series, plus remakes. But none of them are fantasy games, or come anywhere near the quality of storytelling of a Final Fantasy Tactics.
Turn-based strategy games have pretty much died out on the PC, with only some small companies and indie developers still producing any new ones, and then it's often remakes, like the new King's Bounty. The big companies all decided that real time strategy games with lots of action, flashy graphics, and not much need for actual tactical thinking, are selling better. So nobody ever bothered to make a big, triple A, tactical fantasy RPG for Windows. That's a shame, I think PC players aren't any less able to appreciate deep, sophisticated strategy game than console players.
Apparently there are some tactical fantasy RPGs available as Free2Play online games. Of course being MMOs there won't be much storytelling. But Atlantica Online got some good reviews from various bloggers, so I'm currently downloading that one. I'll try it out in the coming weeks. I also remember having once had a short look at Pox Nora when it was still in beta, and it seems to have grown a lot, and is now owned by SOE.
Are there any tactical RPGs for the PC that you would recommend, beyond those I already mentioned?