|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus USA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus USA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As you move through the main campaign, your small group of core Drone units will grow in number and ability. The developers chose to keep things simple by not making players manage resources and construct their own armies. New allies are garnered automatically at semi-regular intervals in the story. Every unit has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. They all gain experience individually, and each can be outfitted with new armaments made with parts collected from fallen adversaries. New weapon designs will be available frequently after battles, and it's fun to construct something new to arm your bugs with the leftovers scrap from nasty creatures you just demolished.
Drone Tactics also throws a few extras gameplay elements into the package that will appeal to the target audience. Even so, they don't feel tacked on. A fairly deep card collection system allows you to throw down cool bonuses, effects, and special abilities in combat and on the strategic map. Card effects are powered by a handful of different touch mini-games, and various cards can be combined to create more powerful effects. In the hangar players can give their Drones sweet custom paint jobs or adorn their army with a hand-drawn emblem using a decent built-in drawing program. When battles in the main game feel a tad too difficult, you can go back and fight in the badlands where there are up to 50 additional optional scenarios can be unlocked. This provides a good break from the story and helps you level up to get past occasional stumbling blocks with the difficulty. Wirelessly battling against pals or trading cards is also possible to extend the extracurricular activities.
Like in most other similar games on the DS, the stylus touch controls are a nice feature, but they're more awkward than using the buttons. The latter allows you to issue commands and breeze through menus far more quickly than with the stylus, but there's nothing otherwise wrong with using the touch method for control. However, stylus maneuvers do break down a bit during some of the card power initiation sequence mini-games. The worst one forces you to hammer on the touch screen by tapping it as fast as possible to charge up an engine piston for a more powerful attack. The others are just sort of awkward and unnecessary. It's a neat idea that ends up poorly implemented.
Adult players may find the story a tad on the horrendous side, but Drone Tactics easily holds its own in the strategy and gameplay departments. It's not quite as complex as other entries in the genre - a potentially positive criticism since the game aids younger players who want to give it a try or more experience players who need a break from constant micromanaging. Other than the slick battle animations, which are completely a step in the right direction for turn-based strategy games on the DS, the game doesn't go above and beyond in most respects. However, it doesn't really need to; to the kiddos who'll get a kick out Drone Tactics, squishing bugs will be as gross as this title is engrossing.
CCC Staff Contributor