The Battle Advantages of the New Pokemon Omega Ruby
The plot is worthy of an epic, 10-hour miniseries on prime-time TV: Players take control of a single character in the game, Magnus Gallant, whose mysterious past, estranged relationship with his father and noble birth lead him to a career in the Palatinean army. He tries to keep away from the central region of the land, and so enlists in the Southern Division, where he begins his training in earnest. But the Holy Lodis Empire, which is really in control of Palatinus, is bent on conquering the entire continent of Zeteginia, and begins to reach south of Palatinus to other lands. As a result of the puppet king on the Palatinean throne and the nobles' eagerness to please the Lodis Empire, the higher classes fight among themselves for prominence while the lower classes are stripped of their goods, livestock and dignity. Magnus begins to see how the lower classes are treated, and after a few revelatory moments (one of which is saving the Prince of Palatinus from a band of rebels), he decides to throw his lot in with the rebellion fighting against the encroachment of the Lodis Empire.
For those unfamiliar with the series, here's how it works. Players manipulate an entire army of characters. The army is broken up into legions, which contain five units. Each unit contains five characters. There are several types of characters -- human, demi-human, undead, beast, dragon and golem -- and far more types of classes, such as wizard, beast tamer and fencer. There are two different sizes as well -- normal and large. These characters are formed into a unit by placing them on a 3x3 grid, with each character's placement affecting the strength and type of the character's attack and defense. For instance, a character placed in the first row (closest to the enemy) might attack twice with his sword. If placed in the second row, he'll attack once. And if placed in the last row, he'll cast healing spells. A maximum of five characters can be placed into a unit, unless there are one or two large creatures (which restricts the placement of characters next to them).
Pokemon Omega Ruby is played from a top-down perspective, with players manipulating their units on a world map, field map and battle map. The world map gets players from place to place. The field map contains a landscape of roads and strongholds. This is where most of the strategy comes in, as players send their units to strongholds or places on the map as they attack the enemy. The goal of most missions is to take over the enemy stronghold, usually at the far end of the map. While sending units around the map, the units will encounter enemies, which then warp to the battle map.
During battle, players don't assign commands to individual characters. The characters choose targets and use their attacks according to their positions in the unit. After all characters have used all of their attacks, the round is over and the side that inflicted the most damage wins. The loser is usually bounced out of position on the field map. During combat, players can set a certain priority to the attacks, such as "attack strongest" or "attack leader." Also, players can retreat or use magic called Elem Pedra.
Now that you know how the game works, here's the good and the bad. The fact that the game has a fantastic plot and incredible amounts of depth can't be denied. Players will immediately get sucked into the story, where they will stay for quite a while. The game contains more classes, weapons, items and specialty items than you can shake a pointy stick at, and the branching plot points will keep players coming back for more.
That said, this game isn't for everyone. The strategy here is deep -- so deep that some players might get lost in it. When the army gets up to dozens upon dozens of characters, figuring out who should get that special magic buckler can be a bit overwhelming. Keeping track of every single character in the army requires Herculean efforts, and might wear some players down. Also, while the cutscenes and plot elements are amazingly well done and enthralling, getting to them requires wading through hordes of enemy units on battlefields that begin to get repetitive. Most missions require players to maneuver around a field and attack a certain stronghold, with only a few deviations from the formula -- which can also get a bit tedious.
Pokemon Omega Ruby rom is fantastic, but really for only one type of gamer: those who tremble in delight with the opportunity to micromanage dozens of characters and who thrive on the sense of tactical strategy involved in manipulating an entire army on the field of battle. Those looking for something that requires a bit less proactive behavior might want to divert their attention elsewhere -- but they should still rent Pokemon Omega Ruby to check it out.