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Dungeons & Dragons Tactics Review

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The geeks shall inherit the Earth

★★★★

While a generation of proud geeks will have cherished memories of playing Dungeons & Dragons in their mate’s kitchen or in the chemistry lab after school, convincing attention-deficit modern gamers to tackle the game’s confounding manuals, pewter figurines and weird dice is a big ask. But in Dungeons & Dragons Tactics, the groundbreaking role-player has found its ideal new home, eschewing pen and paper in favour of Sony’s sleek’n’sexy handheld.

Based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules - and developed in association with brand guardians Wizards Of The Coast, who made sure none of the rulebook’s depth or scope was sacrificed - Tactics features everything you’d expect from an epic D&D jaunt; players begin by creating a set of warriors from scratch (with access to the new Psychic Warrior and Psion classes), moving through the imaginative environments in a turn-based fashion, twatting monsters, and using the points they accumulate through combat and swashbuckling to beef-up their digital bad boys.

But while the game’s structure will be familiar to fanboys, what impresses most is Tactics’ careful balance between hardcore adventuring and newbie-friendly hand-holding. While it’s easy to be intimidated by D&D’s ocean of stats, 200-plus spells and 650 items, the game features a series of tutorials and menus that explain you need to know, helping D&D virgins get to grips with the game’s confusing rules and etiquette.

Moreover, while you can go into intricate detail when creating characters and choosing the most efficient moves during battle, Tactics features many options where the computer does the tedious work for you, prefab characters and simple attack commands helping less-obsessive players steam through the adventure and save the magical land from tyranny.

Even with its concessions for inexperienced dungeon crawlers, Tactics is still an unwieldy experience, and anyone unfamiliar with the rules may find wading through the tutorials and menus to be a bewildering chore. But while hardened dungeon masters may feel a little let down by the leaden story that shapes the single player quest, a range of mutliplayer adventures and imaginative graphics that bring the D&D world to life help make Tactics a slick reworking of the classic franchise.

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