Over the years I have played a lot of RPGs and that is putting it pretty mildly.  Some turn-based, some realtime, some hack and slash, some requiring quite a bit of tactical strategy.  I have learned to love all kinds of different RPGs and found that almost all have some strengths that make them playable, the big question is if they are strong enough to endure.  The best ones wind up being played still over a decade later though there are plenty of great ones that slip through the crack simply because they ride in the shadows of the strongly established.  So first a game must be great then it must be lucky.  The question is whether or not Confrontation winds up being either.

Confrontation doesn’t take very long to show it’s graphically a thing of beauty.  The cut-scenes use the same quality of graphics as its game play with immense details and rich colors.  The music is well composed and the sound is crisp and excellent from the attacks to the death agony screams.  The quality would easily make a great animated series but that is not what they are working for here.  We have to face it however that a game can look great but if it doesn’t play well it isn’t going to survive whereas some games that are just plain ugly have an unlimited lifespan because they are fun and found their audience.

Confrontation is a top down real time tactical RPG where you build up your elite squad of Griffin soldiers to fight against the fearsome creatures of the Alchemists of Dirz (the Scorpion), the ferocious Wolfen packs (the Wolf), and the brutal Orcs of Bran-O-Kor (the Jackal) deep inside the continent of Aarklash.  Starting with warriors,, and working your way through other classes you recruit and redefine your team to both their advantages and your tactical strengths.  This is no “Leroy Jenkins!” game.  Every encounter requires planning and squad placement as well as careful consideration of location.  Fighting in too tight of quarters can block up your melee from getting strikes in, too loose and your healer might start grabbing aggro and taking melee.  There are some skills that the tank class can use to hold aggro but it still comes down to tactical planning.  Playing it I had a lot of close call battles and a couple just flat out failures because I didn’t consider flanking issues or let big melee beasties past my tank and onto the hunter and ranged magic user.  Personally I like a game that creates such challenges so that I have to stop and think rather than just hack and slash through each battle.

The game also has skill trees with lock-off branches so that once you choose a skill path on the character you had better be sure.  One of the more interesting things is upgrades in weapons and armor require finding glyphs on the battlefield which reward credits for each upgrade that go into a pool from which all your characters draw from.  So if you put all your upgrading into a particular character you had better plan to hold onto them for the long run because other characters won’t get anything.

Maps are set up fairly linear with little off shoots that can be taken or avoided which creates the option to engage or avoid patrols as well.  If you like to clean a map you can methodically work your way through, just make sure you have a method or you could find yourself being attacked by multiple patrols and wishing you had snuck by.  Once again this is a tactical RPG and engagement is definitely a factor to consider.  To help with this consideration the camera angle is completely adjustable using the mouse wheel though default is above and slightly behind and during movement will revert back to this location.  Use this option often though because a treasure chest full of bandages could be tucked in a dark corner.  Another nice and helpful feature is the pause located at the space bar that allows you order unit commands and figure out your next move.  Some might think this is too much help but features like this are up to the players to choose or ignore.

The game has a multiplayer mode in which you can play any of the four factions and even challenge particular players to fight.  Since I am reviewing the game prior to release I had a hard time finding players to try this out with but I can say if it as solid as the single-player campaign it should be a lot of fun to play.  It is unfortunate nowadays that a lot of the time the success or failure of a game comes down to how it draws in it’s multiplayer audience more than its single-player campaign though to a degree that is understandable because it does address playtime for your money.

I just have to discuss one feature of this game which doesn’t effect gameplay but to me is one of the most awesome geek touches.  Every old school D&D player and probably a few new ones remembers going to get miniatures at the local hobby store to paint and have sit on the table to represent their characters.  The game actually has a section called Army Painter that lets you paint all the different characters you use and encounter.  As you can see above it looks like a desktop with a coffee cup full of pens and pencils and a couple paint canisters and a styrofoam cup to wash your brush off in.  Honestly I spent quite a while just playing with this feature for the sheer fun of it.  This was a completely unnecessary touch to the game which really endeared it to me or maybe I should say that deep rooted geek within.

Last Call:

This is a solid tactical RPG game with great graphics, excellent game play mechanics and makes you think before you slash.  It has all the makings of a successful game that should appeal to a wide audience.  The key is getting word out and surviving in a market place with a lot of RPGs that are shadowed by giants.