Request for an expert advice on great console RPGs and turned based strategy games

Greetings.

I have posted few hours ago on a FE: Sacred Stone thread, but I think it would be more efficient (and more polite) to start a new thread, rather than trying to hijack the existing one.

Here is the situation:

Basically I am a big fan of computer games and I’ve played a lot of them in my life. However I don’t have any experience whatsoever with console games, and up until recently had no interest of trying them. However recently few things have happen, that are about to push me over the edge into uncharted “console games” territory. :)

First of all, as we all know, there are less and less PC games coming out. The endless “PC games are doomed” threads on this forum is a good indicator. The situation is especially bad in two of my by far favorite genres in games - RPGs and turn-based strategy games.
Second - after reading “Fire Emblem: Sacred Stone” tread, and few other console RPG threads on this forum, I’ve realized that there must bee some real gems in console RPGs field, that I have been totally oblivious to in the past.
Third - I’ve purchased large plasma TV recently, and I was blown away yesterday after one of my friends brought his PS2 to my home and played Soul Caliber 3(?) on my TV. Despite the fact that I don’t like fighting games one bit, the graphic and sound on 50’’ plasma TV and surround sound system was amazing (especially introduction / cutscenes). So I though - heck, if stupid fighting game can be that gorgeous, I wonder how would games from the genres that are closer to my heart look and feel in such environment?!?

So to make longs story short - I’ve decided to buy console system (probably few systems) for the first time in my life, and I desperately need some good advice on which games to buy. Considering that many of the this forum members are connected to the game industry, and considering overall maturity and intelligence level of the forum members, I couldn’t find better place to ask for an expert advice.

Few words about what I am looking for. As mentioned above, my most favorite game genres by far are RPGs and turn based strategy games. I play other genres periodically (real time strategy, adventures, simulators), but not nearly as much as the first two.

Here is the list of my most favorite computer games from these two genres, that I’ve played over the years. I hope it will give you some idea what I enjoy the most in games, so hopefully you would be able to recommend me console games that would fit my gaming profile nicely.

RPGs:

  1. Planescape the Torment
  2. Wizardy 8, 7
  3. Baldurs Gate 2
  4. Fallout 1, 2
  5. Ultima 7, 4
  6. Darklands
  7. System Shock 2
  8. Daggerfall
  9. Might and Magic seria (5-7)
  10. KOTOR
  11. Final Fantasy 7

Strategy Games:

  1. SM’s Alpha Centaur
  2. Heroes of Might and Magic 3
  3. Master of Magic
  4. Age of Wonders:SM
  5. Civilization 2
  6. JA 2
  7. UFO 1/2
  8. Fantasy General
  9. Dominions 2
  10. Combat Missions seria
  11. EU2/HOI2 (I know it is not turned based, but I loved them anyway :) )
  12. King of the Dragon Path

I realize that console games are very different from computer games, but hopefully this list might give you some ideas of what games to suggest.

Any game suggestions (for any console system) would be very appreciated! The only console game that I have played so far was FF7 (played its port to PC, and I liked it a lot).

So here are my questions to the fellow forum members who are experienced in console games field:


  1. What console RPGs and turn based strategy would you recommend to me, based upon my profile and the list of computer games that I enjoy the most? (the type of console system does not matter much)

  2. What games from other genres would you recommend, that in your opinion would be the pinnacle of the console gaming, to the person like me, with zero console experience? I would probably like something that would look gorgeous on large TV and would also be fun to play. I know that I am very vague here, but I can’t help it, since I have no idea what I am talking about >;) But I would like to see if I have been missing something great and exciting console titles, other than RPGs and strategy games.

  3. I have a girlfriend who doesn’t have much experience in computer games or console games, but who is very interested in trying some console games with me. What games with good cooperative multiplayer mode would you recommend for me to introduce her to? Ideally it should look great (the “WOW!” factor = ) ) and be a lot of fun to play together. The genre doesn’t matter much in this particular case.

Sorry for a long post.

And thanks a lot for your valuable advice and help!

Best regards,
Vadim

I would really recommend Final Fantasy Tactics for PSX, its old but rock solid (I play it every so often) and I heard Disgaea for PS2 was quite the good game, Im not too familiar with it though, sorry.

With regard to RPGs, well, you’re not going to find RPG’s like 1-10 on the consoles unless its like, KOTOR (which is a love-or-hate) game. This is just kind of how it is, RPGs on consoles are very different games. If you like FF7, though, virtually all of Square’s PSX output was very very good, and Valkyrie Profile is worth playing (though its $$$$). The best RPG of the PS2/Xbox/GC lot was probably Dragon Quest VIII… but again… its very different from the type of games you are used to.

With regards to question #2, games in the Project Gotham series are some of my favorite of the past few years, Rez is a must-own. I really, really liked Beyond Good & Evil but you will find disagreement. The Ratchet & Clank series is great for action gaming.

#3, Super Monkey Ball is a great, great game for two players. Very simple to play… and addictive as hell.

Second the recommendation for Final Fantasy Tactics. Won’t look that nice on a plasma since it’s a PS1 game but it’s an incredible game.

I think you would enjoy Dragon Quest 8. It has a very “old school” feel, but that old school is very similar to the Wizardy and Might and Magic series so I think it would be right up your alley.

Since you liked FF7, I would recommend FFX and Shadow Hearts: Covenant for the PS2. Also Digital Devil Saga for the PS2 (unlike anything you’ve played in terms of style but everyone should try it).

Another turn based RPG series to try is the Front Mission series, Square’s mech strat-RPG series. Front Mission 3 for the PS1 was well received while Front Mission 4 for the PS2 got a mediocre reception. Probably best to hold off a little while for the domestic release of Front Mission 5, which got a great reception in Japan and seems to be returning the series back to form.

Dai Senryaku VII: Modern Military Tactics is an amazing turn-based strategy game and is probably my favorite console game. It’s only available on the XBox (although if you can read Japanese you can also play the non-localized Japanese PC versions). You can think of it as an Advanced Wars/Fire Emblem type game except will real military units. You can build M1A2 Abrams tanks, Apache attack copters, Harrier VTOL Jump Jets, and even F22 Raptors. Different units have different costs, so early on in a scenario, you’re likely to have F16s or F15s or maybe just choppers, because that’s all you can afford. As you expand, you’ll be able to afford fancier units F22s, B2s, ATACMs (this bad-ass Army Tactical Missle System which kicks butt, but chews through ammo at an unbelievable rate). You can play as US, Russia, Germany, Britain, China, Israel, or Japan, and each countries actual units are modelled and rated for armor, weaponary, stealth, recon abilities, ammo and fuel capacity. The game also handles naval warfare, although in my opinion, not near as well as land and air.

One warning though, the graphics are very primitive. Graphics whores definitely need not apply. However, I think the game play is amazing. You can see the strong differences of opinions if you go to Game Rankings. Gamespot, Game Informer, and Official XBox Magazine all give it 80%, whereas IGN gives it a 5.8.

I second the recommendation of Dragon Quest 8; it feels like an old-school DOS RPG to me.

For turn-based strategy…

Strategy-RPGs are an easy recommendation IMO. My favorite genre that you simply cannot find on the PC for whatever (insane) reason. Disgaea, Phantom Brave and FF:Tactics are all more than worth checking out. Disgaea’s got the best sense of humor, Phantom Brave’s got the most absurd and ingenious character building system out there, and FF:Tactics is the most ‘normal’ while still boasting impressively deep gameplay (I do not mean ‘normal’ in a negative manner, BTW - the quirky aspects of Disgaea and PB turned off some gamers).

Romance Of The Three Kingdoms 7-10 are more cautious recommendations. I love them, personally, but I can’t deny that the AI is too easily exploitable. Indeed, I found 9 to the best pure strategy game of the bunch, but it backs away from the RPG stuff that makes the others so unique, so it’s still not a guaranteed winner. And while the artwork for things like the cities and officer portraits is pretty good, the art for the actual battles is as barebones and boring as it gets - everything’s represented by tiny icons with two-frame animation. After seeing everything from Total Annihilation and Rome:Total War (huge-scale battles) to Disciples (gorgeous artwork) in action, RotTK’s graphics really feel like a step back to the 80386 PC gaming days.

Dynasty Tactics 2 would be a great choice but for one major caveat. Two of the “tactics” your officers can learn are grossly overpowered: Pit and Taunt. They’re Quake 1’s rocketlauncher all over again - the first person to use either tactic may very well have won the battle right then and there. I grew to dislike the singleplayer mode because of this. Luckily DT2, unlike the original, includes a multiplayer skirmish mode so you and your pals can simply agree not to use those tactics, but that limits what officers you get to use so it’s still far from an ideal solution. Koei’s on the verge of making a marvelous strategy series here, but I really wish they’d pay more attention to balance.

Culdcept isn’t my cup of tea, but others here loved it, and I certainly didn’t dislike it or anything. To oversimplify things, it’s basically a board game and Magic-like card game rolled into one.

For console RPGing…

I’m not the biggest fan of most “Japanese” RPGs. So far the only series to have really rocked my world has been Shin Megami Tensei. But there’s still so many random encounters in it that it can get tedious, despite the fact that combat goes by quickly in SMT games due to the focus on brief animations and nearly complete lack of loading-time delays. So it’s not an instant “you will love this” guarantee. Its main gimmick in combat is the elemental strength/resistance system - that stuff plays a far bigger role in SMT than in any other RPG I’ve seen. But while this sound neat on paper, you need to prepare for a lot of trial-and-error when you stumble into new areas that introduce new enemies, whose elemental attacks/resistances you will have no knowledge of. Of the three I’ve played, Nocturne has the most off-the-beaten-path story and surreal environments, and the character creation/building system is as unique as anything I’ve ever seen. But Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2, while being more straightforward sci-fi games, manage to be less tedious due to one major factor - no longer is it game over if your main character dies. Now the entire party has to be slain. Thus it’s much easier to survive tough random encounters. So I enjoyed all three about equally.

Final Fantasy 10 is far better than FF7 IMO. Or 8 or 9, for that matter. I’ve not played the older ones, so I’ll have to take the words of all those who insist 6 is the best in the series. Anyway, FF10 reduces the tedium of the battles by letting you shorten the insanely long animations for the most elaborate spells, which instantly makes it better than 7 right off the bat. The story isn’t great, but certainly tolerable, with a few annoying characters but just as many good ones. The random battles are kind of boring after a while, but I think the great boss fights make up for them. On balance, I rather liked it.

Dragon Quest 8 is damn good. Yes, the artwork could be accused of being too cutesy - every human has a face that is 95% eyeball/5% mouth. Even worse, the main hero’s eyes are ridiculously crossed… they couldn’t have done a better job of making me feel like the exact opposite of a hero here. But I like the creative monsters and bright, lush environments, so it balances out. The story is simple, but thanks to some superb voice acting and a decent sense of humor, it becomes a definite plus. And the combat is a total throwback to older PC games like The Bard’s Tale in terms of basic mechanics. Not my favorite RPG ever, but come on, my save file is somewhere around the 80-hours-played mark, so it’s clearly doing a lot of stuff right.

KOTOR 1 & 2 are favorites of mine. What can I say - I think the usual complaints you’ll see levied against either do apply at least to an extent, but they just didn’t bother me much. It’s Baldur’s Gate 2 in the Star Wars universe, except not quite that perfect.

Jade Empire is not as good. Stunningly beautiful environments, a really good story, and… oh jeez, ultra-simplistic combat that makes Dynasty Warriors look like Virtua Fighter. I’m one of those who thinks Planescape’s combat sucked when compared to Baldur’s Gate 2, but it was still adequate enough that it didn’t really detract from the game. Not so with Jade Empire - it really begins to drag after a while. And while there are some great moments involving the philosophy system that show off its promise (instead of being good or evil, you choose between Open Palm and Closed Fist - Open Palm advocates wanting to help others, Closed Fist is a Darwinistic “everyone stand on their own feet” mindset), far too often Open Palm merely becomes synonymous with ‘good’ and Closed Fist with ‘evil’. I liked the game overall, but it was still very disappointing given what I thought it would be.

And while it’s not a traditional RPG by any means, due to a heavy focus on combat, I think you might really enjoy Way Of The Samurai 2. The story doesn’t unfold on an epic scale like KOTOR, Baldur’s Gate and the like, but it has lots of opportunity for branching paths. IIRC there are over 30 distinct endings. The combat is certainly better than Jade Empire, but not so complex that you’ll need hyper-spaz twitch skills to play. And it’s got a Diablo-like replayability due to the fact that once you win, you can replay using that same character, on any difficulty setting you want, and you get to keep the swords/items you found from previous games.

I also agree with disegia,if your into turn based rpgs then you’ll like the other games from Nis, Makai Kingdom, and Phantom Brave. But neither of them are on the same scale of greatness as disegia.

For multiplayer you may want to try guitar hero, it’s a music game, but pretty fun, and with 2 guitars you can play with someone.

I liked shin megemi tensei nocturne, since it’s different then other rpgs, but it is harder to get into , and first timers to it may have trouble.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Gladius yet. I haven’t played FF Tactics or Desgea, so maybe those two games eclipse Gladius, but I thought Gladius was really fun. Its another one of those strategy-RPGs, as curst just mentioned, I haven’t seen any on the PC. It has a nice long campaign that you can play with alone or with your girlfriend.

Whenever you get into a fight, if your girlfriend is around, she can activate one of the other controllers and take over one or two of the characters you’ll be controlling during the fight. So when you’re playing alone, you can control characters in all 4 slots yourself, and if you’re playing with friends, you can have up to three people in the fight with you. Its a great system, and me and my friends played through the game together by assigning people characters. So a certain character was “mine”, and when I wasn’t around to play the game, they were supposed to leave that character alone. Unfortunately, the main campaign’s story does require certain people to be in certain fights sometimes, which was our only big complaint with the game, so they might have been required to use “my” character even though I wasn’t around.

P.S. For those here that recommended Disgea, would you recommend that for a group of friends that want to play a strategy-RPG like Gladius together? Does it also make it easy to control different characters in the party via different controllers? Or do you just basically have to pass the controller around if you want to do that? Is it an easy game in which to split character responsibility like Gladius? How many of your team can go into combat at once?

no the disegia games are mainly single player, I don’t think there were any multiplayer options in them. You could past the controller around.

Some levels have panels on the grounds that can give specific bonuses, sometimes good, sometimes the level is impossible unless you get rid of them. So if you play with mulitple people you’ll need some coorindation. I think you can up to 9 characters on the field at once, but I haven’t played any of them in awhile. There are also combo attacks which let mulitple characters attack per turn, which is required to an extent to get weaker characters exp.

Totally. I still play Gladius with one of my mates. We both have our favourite characters and it’s considered poor form to use a character that doesn’t ‘belong’ to you (it’s all down to who owns Langston and who can set up the best backstab for Serwacy and most importantly - who doesn’t have to play Ludo).

I’d also give a shout out to Shadow Hearts: Covenant for good RPG/Strategy - kept me entertained for many many hours. The characters and story are all just slightly bizarre which I find really appealing (vampire pro-wrestler who hits people with frozen tuna, how can you trump that?).

C.

Thanks a lot to everybody who have posted on this thread for your advice, I really appreciate it.

Here is the list of the games I’ve put together based upon your suggestions.

“(!)” mark means “Definitely a great game, recommended by more than one person”.
No mark simply means - good game.
“(?)” mark means "Cautiously recommended, maybe worth to try).

RPG/Strategy:

(!) Final Fantasy Tactics
(!) Dragon Quest 8
(!) Disgaea
(!) FFX
(!) Nocturne
(!) Digital Devil Saga 1,2
Phantom Brave
Valkirya Profile
Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Dai Senryaku VII: Modern Military Tactics
(?) Romance Of The Three Kingdoms 7-10 ( which one should be considered the best in series?)
(?) Dynasty Tactics 2
(?) Culdcept
(?) Way Of The Samurai 2

Different types of console games worth to check out:

Project Gotham series
Rez
Ratchet & Clank series

Good games of any genre for coop multiplayer:

Super Monkey Ball (question - is it really a coop game?):
Guitar Hero (do I need to have some special controllers to play it?)
Gladius

Are there any other suggestions?

Are there any other good coop multiplayer games of any genre?

Please keep them coming! :)

Regards,
Stormbinder

Ok, FFT definitely does not merit a (!). Phantom Brave does. Also, please at Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter to that list right away.

Different types of console games worth to check out:

Project Gotham series
Rez
Ratchet & Clank series

Add: Phantom Dust.

Good games of any genre for coop multiplayer:

Super Monkey Ball (question - is it really a coop game?):
Guitar Hero (do I need to have some special controllers to play it?)
Gladius

Guitar Hero comes with the special controller, I believe.

For co-op, get some X-Men Legends.

FFT definitely DOES merit a !. It was recommended by more than one person. You are in the minority if you don’t like that game. As far as I am concerned it’s the best SRPG out there. It’s better than Disgaea, IMO, since Disgaea is FAR too easy.

Ack, no! You want Way of the Samurai 1, not 2. The sequel removes just about everything that was cool about the first one, and adds horrible voice acting and a broken combat system.

It’s a list thread! Must join.
I’ll recommend some multiplayer games that are simple to pick up and play, easy to learn, etc.:

  1. Sega Tennis 2K2.
  2. Bomberman!
  3. Soul Calibur II or 3.
  4. XMen Legends.
  5. Puyo Puyo Fever (if you like competitive puzzle games)

I haven’t played Disgaea. Have you played Phantom Brave? Every single aspect is vastly superior to FFT.

My favorite part about FFT was the hilarious translation. Especially when your guys would report back to you about a job they were sent on. “This was the way!”

I’ll repeat the recommendations for Disgaea and Phantom Brave, and also add one for Nippon Ichi’s latest, Makai Kingdom. All great stuff.

I’ll also second the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series and especially Culdcept. Culdcept is a must-buy, especially at its current bargain bin price.

I’ll also cautiously recommend Dynasty Tactics 2. I played the first and enjoyed it, but it’s really two games in one: the titular tactical game and a broader strategic layer acting as a dumbed-down version of Romance of the Three Kindoms. The strategic layer is clunky and gave me all sorts of problems, eventually causing me to give up on the game in frustration. I could never tell if I was losing the tactical battles due to my tactical failures or due to my failures on the strategic map (e.g. not bringing enough armies to the battle). I don’t know if this aspect was improved in the sequel.

Oh yea. The translation is beyond awful. It seriously ruins what may have been a damn good story.

The music is amazing, though. To date the only videogame soundtrack I own.