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Future Tactics: The Uprising Review

Developer: Zed Two Publisher: Crave
Release Date: May 10, 2004 Also On: GCN, PS2 and Xbox

Some games are hard to classify. Future Tactics: The Uprising is one of them. It isn’t real-time strategy because it’s turn-based, but it can’t really be classified as a turn-based RPG because there are strategy elements involved in the game rather than just two groups, one on each side of the screen, going at it in traditional turn-based RPG fashion. I personally, therefore, would call it a turn-based strategy game, sort of in the same vein as Final Fantasy Tactics, but on a much larger scale. However, how the game is classified is not important. What is important is whether the game is worth playing, and in Future Tactics’ case, the answer to that question is yes.

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Why do I say that? I’ll get to that later, but right now I need to say that the graphics in this game are not the reason. Yes, the graphics in this game look nice and are done competently, but they are not awe-inspiring like the graphics in some titles. Considering the fact that this was a budget title, however, the graphics are done very well compared to other games at its price level.

The sound is also very well done. Explosions sound reasonably like explosions, and the other sound effects found in the game also sound reasonably accurate. The music, while not the most addictive music I’ve ever heard, is pretty good, and, considering the fact that this was a budget title, the fact that I don’t have to listen to the same song for the entirety of every level is certainly a plus. Indeed, the game does a good job of making the music fit the circumstances of the level you are in, and you don’t even have to listen to the same music for the entire level because there are different songs for your team and your opponent’s so the music doesn’t get too old.

However, the reason that I say that the sound is very well done has nothing to do with the sound effects or the music, but rather the voice acting, both in the cut-scenes and in the actual game. Each character has enough voice samples that you won’t hear them say the same thing every time they kill a creature or get a shot lined up perfectly. On top of that, the characters sound like you would expect them to. The young kid sounds like a young kid. The old man sounds like an old man. Even the robot sounds like a robot. The voice acting in the cut-scenes is also done very well, making it a shame that the story behind the game has so little depth to it. Only one major plot twist occurs, and it is somewhat predictable. So, overall, the sound is done very well.

Anyway, as I said earlier, this game is basically a turn-based strategy game. Each of the nineteen levels in the single-player mode has its own objectives, although most often the objective is either “get from point A to point B� or “kill all the enemies�. Occasionally in a “kill all the enemies� level, you will have to do so while preventing something else from getting destroyed or killed. My personal favorite level though is the one that requires you to get from one point to another within a time limit. So you can see that the objectives in this game run the gamut of all the possibilities for a game of this type fairly well, making the game fresh with each level and not just the same old thing over and over.

So how do you go about destroying your enemies in this game? I’m glad you asked. Every character carries a weapon of some type, which are broken down into two categories of weapons: either a line of sight weapon or a ballistics weapon. Of course, if you’re brave, you can walk right up to the enemy and hit him with your fist or gun, but that sort of makes it hard to hide from him so he doesn’t hit you back. You’ll find hiding from the creatures to be an exercise in futility in most cases anyway though, and there are times when you can actually do more damage using a physical attack.

A line of sight weapon is exactly what it sounds like. You take aim, and you fire a blast down a line of sight. The game has a mechanic for aiming the shots that insures that you won’t get a perfect shot every time, but it isn’t too difficult to do reasonable damage anyway. The ballistics weapons can hit any enemy within a certain distance (unfortunately, not a very long one most of the time) from your character whether your character can get line of sight on him or not. These guys have to get closer to the enemy to do their dirty work, but if they do it right, it is easier for them to attack unseen.

That’s one of the main problems with this game. The enemies can see things that no human could ever dream of seeing, so you can pretty much forget about them not being able to see you just because you’re halfway across the level from them when you fire. To make matters worse, they can communicate with each other, so if one sees you from a long distance off, he can transmit that information to one that is closer to you so that one can attack you on its next turn. However, you have the option to look over the entire map for them also, so it all evens out in the end.

A turn then plays out as follows. Your character moves to a spot within a green circle which varies in size depending on the speed of your character, then he attacks if he chooses to, then he can move again to anywhere within a smaller blue circle to try to hide from the enemies. You have as much time as you want for each character to take his turn since this is a turn-based game. At the end of your turn, you can choose one of three options. You can stand around, which does nothing but leave you where you are. You can shield yourself, which causes you to take less damage if any enemies attack you before your next turn. The last option is that you can try to recover life, but if you get hit while in this state the hit will do more damage than usual.

Also present in this game are power-ups and health packs. A health pack automatically restores full health to whichever character happens to run across it, while a power-up will give a new ability to any of the characters on your team in the level in which it was picked up. Each character gains abilities in a predetermined order, so sometimes it is strategically beneficial to give a character a power-up that causes him to gain a near useless ability if the next ability after it is useful.

Does the game sound fun already? It gets better. The environments are almost fully destructible. Most buildings can be demolished, and you can even dig holes into the ground with your attacks. The enemy fire also does this. If done correctly, although doing so is hard, you can actually hurt an enemy by making a piece of the environment fall on him, which can potentially do more damage than hitting him directly with your weapon. What could be more fun than that?

There are two styles of play in this game. The first time you go through the story mode you play as teams, meaning that everybody on your team takes a turn, then all of the Creatures take a turn. This makes matters difficult if you’re outnumbered, but makes it easy to finish your opponents off after you outnumber them. On the flip side is the second time you play through where one member of your team will take a turn, followed by one Creature. This makes matters easier for you when you’re outnumbered, but harder when you outnumber your opponent.

I should note that there are level-ups in this game as if it were an RPG. However, the game is not very stat-oriented, so, while your characters do get more powerful as they level up, you don’t have to worry about stats like you would in an RPG, only about getting the job done. Being of a higher or lower level than your opponents though does determine how much damage you are capable of dealing out to your enemies.

This game boasts a two-player feature as well for which you can unlock modes and options by progressing through the single-player mode and accomplishing special tasks in it. These options can also be unlocked by playing the multiplayer mode a lot though just in case there are a few of the tasks that you are having trouble with. Eventually, you’ll be able to choose in the multiplayer whether you’re playing as teams or individuals, and if as individuals, whether the order of turns is predetermined or left to the player. Just as there is a lot of variety to the objectives in the single player mode, there are quite a few options for the multiplayer mode, including the ultimate objective of the battle.

However, even with all of this going for the game, it is not perfect. First of all, it is often near impossible to hide from the creatures. In some levels there will be places where you can hide, but often you sacrifice your best lines of sight toward the enemies to do so. For the most part, therefore, the strategy of the game is more about outlasting your enemies than sniping them off.

Secondly, it should be noted that the game mechanics of this game are nowhere near as complex as they are in some other strategy games, which may make this game seem a little simplistic to seasoned veterans of the strategy genre. However, this game does what it does fairly well. Well enough to be worth a look even from those seasoned veterans of strategy games.

What then is my recommendation? It will probably take you at least fifteen to twenty minutes at least to beat each level, assuming you win, and there are nineteen levels. Couple that with the fact that you can play through the game again under the individual rules rather than team rules and you’ve got a single-player mode that will last you a decent amount of time. If you have a friend who likes the game as well, the multiplayer could potentially also have a fair share of time put into it. I would say that if you have any interest in strategy games, you owe it to yourself and to the makers of this game to give it a chance. In my opinion, it could have been a reasonable choice at full-price, so it is well worth what you are likely to pay for it.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8
Written by Martin Review Guide