GENERATION OF CHAOS / Idea Factory / PSP
 
 
Generation of Chaos actually has a few great ideas. Unfortunately, they're completely drowned in a stew of horrible design decisions and one of the worst interfaces I've ever seen in a handheld game. The end result is an unplayable mess.

You start the game by creating three characters, whose class and gender you can choose, but for some reason can't rename. They're then completely forgotten about for a couple of missions as you pick your *real* main character and jump into what is ostensibly a tutorial mission.

We're then off to a long, tedious and unskippable credits sequence interspersed with dialogue-less cut scenes of random people doing random things that have no explanation or context at this point whatsoever. When's the last time you saw a game (or movie for that matter) open with full credits? I mean not just the actors, like most of the production staff. Also, if your game is going to be a piece of crap, maybe unskippable credits at the start are not the best idea, right? Generally people don't finish crappy games so your name is hidden in obscurity at the end. Put it up front and everyone gets to see who was responsible for this poo.

Finally after some mercifully brief dialogue scenes, we're off to the action. In my case, I picked the kingdom that said "For Beginners" under it, since I felt like the game was confusing me into submission already. And holy shit. Even in the first map, most of the enemies can trash most of your units. You have to move them together in big packs to survive. Your cutesy sidekick character says something about explaining "the basics of battle" to you ... but then never bothers to deliver, leaving you to sort out how the game works on your own.
 


Let me see if I can describe how this game works. It's fundamentally turn-based strategy, and looks a bit like a board game. You start out on a map with a bunch of towns, fortifications, etc. You have some, the enemy has some. You have some units, the enemy has some units. Usually there's some Main Town/Castle and Main Character you have to protect to keep from losing, and likewise assassinate/capture on the enemy side. Regardless of how many units you have, however, you only get to move five of them per turn, and they only get to move a fixed number of spaces.

However, when you encounter an enemy unit, the game goes to a combat mode that's more like ... well, chaos. You have a unit of up to 29 guys, but you can't control them directly. You can only give general orders - Crush (charge I guess), Wait (stand in place), Target Leader (pile on enemy commander) or Protect Leader (protect your commander.) The commander can be told to move independently, or use one of their Skills or Super Abilities or an item they are carrying, but otherwise that's the whole extent of your control over a battle. The rest is watching the two squads run at each other and hoping for the best.

I'm not even sure where to start with the problems, there's so many. Exacerbating the fact that you get no tutorial in-game is the godawful font they chose, and the abbreviation-heavy menus. See, Idea Factory, abbrevations are a shortcut for *things you are already familiar with.* When they stand for things you have never seen before, they're completely inexplicable and just make everything 10x worse.

The game's complexity inverts on itself given how much trial-and-error experimentation you have to do to learn every little thing. In addition to moving your units about, and re-stocking them after they battle, you can also do stuff like Invest in a town, or try to bribe an enemy. The particulars of which are baffling, I still don't understand what the point of Investing is. All of this is further dragged down by how slow the game is. Outside of battle, things move at an acceptable clip. Inside of battle, holy Tebus. It's like SNES slowdown except it *never stops*.

Battles are what absolutely kill the game, though. First there's the excruciatingly slow speed. Then, each commander has only one fixed type of unit they can command, and the entire unit is filled out with them. Until you trial-and-error a few battles, you don't know which ones are suited to take on which other ones, leading you to some cheap and random deaths. Again, this is where a tutorial would really help.

If you happen to get terrain where there's a bottleneck between you and the enemy, get ready for the battle to drag out even longer, since the troops will have to clog it up and hack away at each other to slowly dwindle their numbers down before you and the enemy commander can get at each other. The casualties are lulzy too, battles almost always end up with both character's units totally wiped out and them standing there hacking at each other until one goes down. Then the winner makes a beeline to the nearest town to recruit more mooks. You'd think they'd get a reputation and have a hard time finding volunteers after awhile.

You can also get into random battles when moving between "safe" points like towns and fortifications. Actually, I should say, there seems to be a better than 50% probability you *will* get jumped if you park your unit outside fortifications. And it's never just a pack of bandits or something, it's some massive mercenary unit with some buff commander that's just attacking people for no reason, or some huge squad of 30 monsters with some ridiculous leader. Now, here's the fun part of this. The enemy castle you have to take is almost always too far of a march from the nearest "safe" fortification to get there in one turn. So you have to build a camp by parking in "unsafe" terrain for at least one turn to prepare to attack them (the enemy leader nearly always just turtles in their castle forever.)

So you finally get an encampment ready to attack the enemy leader. Once you have multiple people piled into one square, the random enemy ambushes seem to stop, so having only wasted a few turns and maybe an hour of your life running people back and forth to the nearby fort to replenish troops, you're finally in position to assault the battlements. And then you discover ... the enemy can hire limitless new generals (complete with full armies) from their main base, and just endlessly spam them at you every turn to whittle down your forces and force you to constantly have people running back for fresh troops. Another interesting thing they can do is seemingly spam one new guy at you during their turn ... then, at the start of your turn, they somehow magically get an extra turn to spawn and spam another! It's completely insane. It's like playing a spoiled little Cartman kid online who starts cheating with codes once you've backed him down to his main encampment.

Oh man, I didn't even get to how the enemy commanders waste time when they are clearly defeated. Every one of these jagoffs is a walking pharmacy and also has a million buff/debuff spells on hand to spam. You'll have them surrounded and nearly dead and they'll drag things out forever by pulling minor healing items out of their ass or casting some pointless buff spell with some long-ass animation just to waste more of your time.

Seriously, this game reminded me of those old Atari 2600 games that were intentionally bad, that bigger non-gaming companies made through a shill corporation as a tax dodge. If they were intentionally bad, they'd sell poorly, and somehow losing that money actually translated to a bigger net profit in tax write-offs for them somehow (a loophole I would hope Congress closed at some point, but knowing them, probably not.) Everything about the game seems like it was a calculated decision to waste as much of your time as possible in pointless, frustrating activity.
 
 
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