|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 24, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
"Don't fix it if it ain't broke." That saying holds true for a lot of things, but in the case of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2, that axiom could be better changed to, "Don't fix it if we can still make money with it."
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2 is so similar to the original that only true diehard fans will detect enough varied nuances not to feel ripped off. This is the same old card collecting game that we've played since the inception of Yu-Gi-Oh! Sure, this version is a little different. It's bigger, but not necessarily better. The rules are based on the New Expert Rules, which were recently implemented for the physical card game.
The one thing the series has going for it is the underlying depth. This game can get pretty complex. And considering that it's geared toward a pre-teen market, that's pretty remarkable. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but you can start playing with only the most basic of information. You can learn as you go, but it's still going to be a challenge.
The game is not beginner-friendly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't tackle it if you are a beginner. This is a great game to get involved in the Yu-Gi-Oh! world, but it's going to take some fortitude. If you can find a friend to explain the rules to you, take advantage of it. Trying to find the information in-game is almost as difficult as learning the ropes by trial and error. All of the information is there; it's just not easy to find everything you need. You'll learn through tutorials, conversations with NPCs, and accessing the help menu. There is lots to learn, and that's coming from a game reviewer who hasn't played (or enjoyed) a Yu-Gi-Oh! game for a couple of years. Watch out for translation minefields. You're bound to step in a few of those. I highly recommend learning from a friend while using the ad hoc wireless system. Once you get familiar with the rules and basic strategies, you can spend weeks perfecting your skills in the single-player mode.
As with any game based on the rock/paper/scissors format, you can expect a certain degree of luck to play a significant role in the gameplay. This helps even the score against more skilled players or those that were lucky enough to find one of those super-rare, killer cards. Ultimately, you want the best hand that you can get. That requires a lot of patience and persistence. Each card represents a specific move. There are spells, attacks, blocks, summoning, chains, and healing. Cards are purchased with money earned from successful battles. You can also win cards. Once you start collecting them, you will arrange them in your deck according to your preferred method of combat. Less useful cards can be traded to others that need them. This is where the ad hoc system comes in handy.
There are almost 3,000 cards to collect, buy, sell, and trade. That makes for a different game every time. The two-on-two, ad hoc mode is better than nothing, and while it's certainly less expensive to play the PSP version than having to buy a couple thousand cards, the ad hoc keeps you tethered close to home. Sometimes too close to home. You might as well just use cards, if you can afford them, since you'll be dueling face-to-face. An online mode would have made all the difference in the world. Konami missed the boat on the first game, and here they just completely missed the ocean.
Not much has changed with the production values. The characters are definitely lackluster, displaying very little detail and not much in the way of color variation or shading. It looks like an anime cartoon that was flattened and left out in the sun too long. The menus are old and bulky. Even though they are relatively easy to navigate, they just feel so 1998. Musically, the tunes are as decent as they are innocuous. It's inoffensive soft rock at its blandest. The sound effects lack energy. You won't be missing much if you decide to listen to tunes from your iPod instead.
There are lots of cards to play with in this game. That alone may be enough for some players, but if you're not really into this genre, you might be advised to leave this one to the professional time-wasters. The lack of an online mode can seriously restrict your development as a player since you'll likely be forced to play against the same handful of neighborhood gamers. The gamers that will salivate over this know the details are in each individual card. I just don't think that these additions are enough to recommend spending full price on. At best, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2 is an expansion pack to the original.
CCC Senior Writer