Generation of Chaos (PSP) review
"Every unit you command is controlled through this set-up. Each time you want to recruit someone to your cause, or give a gift to an especially useful warrior, or develop the land around a stronghold or whatever, you have to wade through menus. Those commands you might wish to use most frequently are generally two or three levels down, to boot."
There are some games that capture your imagination from the minute you first play. They sweep you off into a world of adventure and the last thing you want to do is pull yourself away from the system to do something else. Restroom breaks, sleep and dinner become necessary nuisances. The opposite sex is a distant memory. Such titles are the reason you keep gaming, the fuel that feeds your addiction. Generation of Chaos, unfortunately, is not that sort of game.
I wanted to like it. I really did. The first time I put the UMD in my PSP, I told myself that I was in for a special treat. Nippon Ichi had never failed me before (even when publishing other company’s games, as they’re doing here), and I had every confidence that this hot little title would soon be my new best friend. Then, something went terribly wrong. I turned off the game after playing for maybe an hour and I promised myself that I would play it again soon, that I’d just picked the wrong night to play it. Day after day, I stared at the PSP and I told myself “Tonight is the night.” It took something like a week before I finally broke down and fired it up again, though. And then I played for a few more hours and turned it off. “Okay,” I told myself. “I just need a breather. I’ll play it again soon.”
Do you see the problem here? It shouldn’t take determination to convince yourself that you want to play a game! So, what does Generation of Chaos do so wrong? Well, that’s where things get hazy.
First of all, I will admit that my expectations were unrealistic. I was expecting a role-playing game. Despite what you may have seen, though, despite what screenshots seem to indicate and regardless of how some sites may choose to classify it, Generation of Chaos is not a role-playing adventure. Its similarities to Makai Kingdom and games of that breed begin and end with the “NIS America” logo on the packaging. The title is in fact a strategy game. Once I got past that notion—which didn’t take long—I remained confident that I could enjoy the game. After all, I have been known to appreciate the likes of Gemfire and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. I can’t hold the game’s genre against it, but I can resent its horrible execution.
The menus provide the bulk of the game’s issues. Most of the time you spend with Generation of Chaos, you’ll be acquainting yourself with the wretched interface. It’s so bad that some people have to consult FAQs just to figure out how to play. Everything is abbreviated and may or may not make sense. Every unit you command is controlled through this set-up. Each time you want to recruit someone to your cause, or give a gift to an especially useful warrior, or develop the land around a stronghold or whatever, you have to wade through menus. Those commands you might wish to use most frequently are generally two or three levels down, to boot.
That’s the good part of the game. The rest of it is spent watching the computer take its turn (this can take awhile) and sometimes engaging in battles that you may or may not have a remote chance of winning. This is true because if you didn’t pay particularly good attention, you likely missed something important. That, or you knew what you needed to do to succeed, but it was too darn boring. Maybe you didn’t buy enough herbs for your party, or enough skills. Perhaps your levels are too low. In this game, you’re just as likely to find some monster that’s at your level as you are to find a demonic behemoth that will use your warriors for toothpicks. You’ll soon develop a mantra: save often.
The thing is, saving is a pain in the butt. It takes a moment and you have to screw around with your save file much more than normal. Like the rest of the game, it’s simply not intuitive. So you’re stuck in this limbo of sorts where you want to keep trying but you know you’ll be sitting in menus and on save screens most of the time you play. And it’s so easy to look at some other game in your collection—almost any other game, really—and know that you could be having more fun there.
Now, you might ask yourself: “How can this game be so bad yet not score a 1?” The answer is that it does get some things right. The truly hardcore gamer will embrace these elements. He or she will love the way there is a story of betrayal and intrigue, love the process of customizing units and managing the special relationships between troops and their leaders. That same hypothetical gamer will love scanning the map and noting the fortified strongholds of his enemies, then perhaps swarming them with swords waving and spells flowing. There are moments where the game is fun!
So, this is not your typical review because Generation of Chaos is not your typical game. I’m not going to write anything else because I didn’t like the game and you might. I’d say there’s about a 50% chance one way or the other. Just in case you find that you share my tastes, though, let me say this: I told you so!
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Staff review by Jason Venter (May 12, 2006)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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