Dungeons & Dragons Tactics - hands-on

In between missions, expect to spend a lot - a LOT - of time tinkering with your characters. If you're leveling up your adventurers, for example, you'll be able to pick from an extensive list of new skills, spells and "feats," which might be a little daunting if you don't already play and understand D&D. Luckily for more casual players, you can have the computer make the decisions for you and spare you one more thing to worry about. This is especially nice considering all the time you'll need to spend dividing loot, outfitting your characters and making sure your mages, clerics and psionic warriors memorize spells you'll actually use in battle.

The computer can also help you out during character creation, again sparing some confusion for players unfamiliar with 3rd Edition D&D rules. Even the most basic aspects of a character, such as their job class, species, alignment and portrait, can be automatically assigned by the computer if you want. This takes all the fun out of character-creation, but given that you'll need a party of four to six of them, all with varying and complementary talents, you can be forgiven for wanting to rush through.

The load times in the unfinished version we played were pretty lengthy, but D&D Tactics is rapidly shaping up to be one of the PSP's more technically impressive games, as well as one of the most realistic tactics games we've ever seen. The missions we tried out were fun and involving (but a little tedious, once they started to run too long), and we get the distinct feeling that we've only just scratched the surface. Assuming you've got the patience to delve deep into it (and if you've read this far, you probably do), Dungeons & Dragons Tactics could be the game that eats up your summer.