Title: Future Tactics: The Uprising
Developer: Zed Two
Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Date Released: 2004
Platforms: PlayStation 2
ESRB Rating: Teen: Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

Zed Two was very honest with this game; it hit the shelves at US$13. What would you normally expect for thirteen dollars in a game? Crappy graphics, sound, and maybe just a bit of playability? That's what you would normally get, but not here.

Future Tactics is a very solidly built game (and cheap too!), and is perfect for those who like RPGs, but don't like crunching numbers. As a matter of fact, the only numbers present here are the damage values and the level numbers. And the only menus present are on the title screen, and the move/shoot/rest menu.

Let's face it: Real Life is not arranged in a checkerboard pattern, with some panels higher than others. Neither is Future Tactics, for that matter. Trees, rocks, cars, houses and various craters are all present for hiding behind, in, or on. And (unlike in that phony checkerboard world), every bit of the environment is destructable. Don't like that tree? Blast it out of the way! Got something against that bridge? Go for it. Enemy cowering behind a rock? Shoot through it! Disatisfied with the flatness of the ground? Crater it up a bit (or a lot)! Anything and everything can be destroyed.

Let's move on to the actual methods of destruction. After selecting the reticle from the menu, one of two things will happen, depending on the gun:

  • For a line of sight weapon (like a gun, rifle, or so forth), the camera snaps to first person view, and a targeting cursor starts moving around the screen. This cursor can't be stopped; however, fine pushes on the analog stick can slow it down. Use this cursor to line up the target (head shots are better here). Then, two lines will come into view, one after another, moving across the cursor. Stop them in the center for maximum damage. Then the shot flies, and the crater is made.
  • Foa a ballistic weapon, a radar screen shows up, and a circle emanates from the center to the edge. Stop this cirle over the desired target, and a line will rotate around the insides of the circle. Stop this one, too. And then, there be a crater.

As you can see, the weapon system is truly unique, and for some reason it brings Scorched Earth to mind.

There's also a two-player battle system, as well. Each side can build their own force, and set map limits and game goals and everything. However, it all has to be unlocked first. Each individual map, each individual character, each game structure (move all your people at once, or one at a time?), all of it. With all this unlocking, it's rather difficult to enjoy a two-player battle right out of the box. they have to be unlocked with goals like "All party members must not get hit" and "One party member must kill all enemies", and so forth. Some of these are virtually impossible.

However, the story is sorely lacking. It basically just sets the player up for the next battle. There's virtually no character development, and the plot is completely minimal. Somehow, sometime, somewhere, some creatures from off this world showed up, and they started killing people. Then we meet our main characters, who... just start fighting battles.

Yet, the story is the only part of the game that's below par. The music is delicious, though part of it just feels off. (Why should the creatures get a rock theme on their turn, instead of something more... Zerg-like?) The graphics are visually delicious, and the battle system is simple, deep, and effective.

Simply put, don't play this for the plot. It's not like you have any choice in the matter, though, because there is no plot.