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Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force
Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Ad Hoc)
Genre: Card Games/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force is as close as any Yu-Gi-Oh! game has come to delivering the game I always thought it should be. Past iterations have consisted of either straight simulations of the card game or weak RPGs with modified rule sets. GX Tag Force, however, finally gets things right by offering a faithful representation of the card game with a lengthy RPG.

GX Tag Force makes great use of the PSPís screen during duels. Coming off countless GBA versions, I was floored when I saw the PSPís clean and clear layout. Cards are viewed from an isometric angle that lets you see the entire play field. The view isnít clear enough that you can read everything on the card while it is in play, though you can easily identify it by its picture (provided you know the cards that well). But, if youíre not that good, you can select any card on the field and view its stats on the left side of the screen.

Duels are just as overly dramatic as they are in the show. Every time a character draws or plays a card, a short cinema plays. When I first started playing I loved it, but it does get bothersome a few duels into the game, especially when playing longer duels.

Outside of duels, the graphics arenít mind-blowing, but look better than previous Yu-Gi-Oh! games. When talking to other characters, portraits take up the entire screen and are joined by a big text box.

Sound consists mainly of upbeat songs that fit the show. Most of the time, I was able to drown it out entirely in my mind, so it is there when you need it, but stays out of the way if you don't.


Gameplay:
Story Mode is split into three parts. After naming your digital persona, you are dropped into the Duel Academy. Your time in the Academy is short, though it serves its purpose as a tutorial for newcomers, as well as a chance to find a partner for the second part of the story, in addition to giving you time to hone your deck. Veterans probably wonít get much out of the tutorial section, though it is still worth going though. If anything, it helps in getting you acclimated to dueling on the PSP.

Part two of the Story involves you and a partner entering the Tag Force Tournament. Here the game consists mainly of duels as well as a few chances to interact with other characters from the show and fine tune your deck, strategies and skills. How well you fare in the tournament rests on how good your partner is. Each partner has their own personality and deck type, so teaming up with someone who doesnít complement your style wonít work. Even then, your partner is not above foolish errors, so you may find yourself dueling with one hand tied behind your back.

The last part of the game follows the first seasonís plot and is mostly just a bunch of duels strung together by a story. RPG elements arenít overly complex, though they work for getting you from duel to duel, which is better than being dumped back into the menu like past games.

Multiplayer duels are available, though only through Ad Hoc connection. The lack of online duels is a missed opportunity. While it is true that the gameís younger audience will be just as content dueling their friends as they would someone across the country, Yu-Gi-Oh! has enough older fans that it could have easily become one of the more popular PSP games.


Difficulty:
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force isnít any harder than previous games. One of the really great things about the series is that it has always been accessible to players of all skill types. The only difference between the two is their record, which directly ties into their decks. The starting deck is okay for training sessions, but youíll want to upgrade as soon as you can. It also helps to have a clear idea of what type of deck you want and how it relates to your particular play style. Do you want a deck that is built of fast attacks, or one that builds up to massive bruisers? For example, my decks tend to work on manipulating the rules and flow of the game to either turn my opponents' monsters against them, or get my big guns out as quick as I can. Donít panic rookies! These are things that come with time and experience, but once you find something you like, stick with it.

Game Mechanics:
Although a few other elements have been added, dueling is still at the heart of the game. The interface is very easy to learn and doesnít require much more than a couple of button presses. Again, coming off the GBA titles, I found the PSPís interface to be much easier to pick up thanks to the wider, clearer screen.

While in the field, you have access to a PDA where you can edit your deck, check on school events and receive messages from other characters. Over 2000 plus cards are available in the game, so if youíre looking to replicate your awesome tournament deck in GX Tag Force you can Ė if you can get the cards, that is. Again, it is a good idea to figure out what kind of deck you want to build early on, that way you can make sure you donít lose cards that would really help the deck.

E-mail messages are planned to coincide with the story and will usually let you know where to go next.

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force is a must buy for Yu-Gi-Oh! fans. I have played more than my fair share of Yu-Gi-Oh! games in the past and GX Tag Force is easily the best one.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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