Review by SynjoDeonecros
"There is no "I" in Team."
In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, with Yugi Mutou as its star, the main theme is teamwork and friendship, the underlying message that no matter how tough the opponent, how dire the situation, as long as you believe in yourself, your deck, and your friends, there's nothing you can't accomplish. However, that was then, and times have changed; dueling, both in real life and in the anime, has become a cutthroat competition where only the strong survive, and it's literally you against the world. Despite the GX anime's new message of taking things easy and playing the game mainly for fun, if you're not ready and fully willing to trust no one and do unto others before they do unto you, you'll quickly be eaten by the wolves of the elite. A harsh lesson, to be sure, and one that's unfortunately slapped upside the head of any duelist that tries their hands at this game.
At first looking and playing a lot like the original Tag Force game, with a 400 card increase, you quickly realize you're way out of your league; admittedly, none of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games are well-known for their stellar AI, but that of TF2 is downright unfair. Let me give you an example of what I mean: in one recent duel, during the first few turns, my opponent was able to counter my every move, spamming Forced Back when I tried to normal summon a monster, and cards like Magic Drain and Spell Shield-8 to take out any attempts to reborn my lost monsters. One duel I remember playing a level 3 monster during my first or second duel, only to have it nuked by Weed Out, a trap specifically made to take out face-up ATK position level 3 monsters. This is the kind of omniscience you can expect with every single duel you have, the opponent somehow able to read precisely what you're going to do next turn and countering it flawlessly. Even more frustrating, is that this foresight only lasts while the NPCs are your opponents; once you take them up as partners, they suddenly become bumbling idiots, making mistake after mistake almost as if they're purposely trying to sabotage the duel for you. Sure, the opponent may sometimes make similar boneheaded moves, but those are few and far between. In other words, everyone's literally against you in this game, and this extreme unevenness in AI makes it nigh-impossible to play the game and get any enjoyment out of it.
Speaking of how much of a cheating bastard the computer is, Konami has somehow converted the infamous "Heart of the Cards" from the first anime into a game mechanic. Known as the "Destiny Draw", you can assign it to up to 5 to 10 cards in your deck, and when you're close to losing, the Draw kicks in, letting you draw a random card among them. Yes, there is a bit of a luck factor in which card you draw with it, but considering that there are plenty of universal "staples" out there that can turn the game around in a pinch, it's really just another way for the computer to cheat its way to victory. And of course, the computer is not bound by any of the banned/restricted lists, even going so far as to pack three copies of a card that's only limited to 1 or 2 (like Aster's Destiny Hero - Malicious). There is a bit of a buffer, though; once you're able to get them up to their max heart level, you're able to edit your partner's deck to make it more efficient and smooth, though even then, you're limited to swapping out cards that aren't considered the character's "favorites" (which are the cards that make them recoil in shock when they're stolen or destroyed during a duel).
Beyond that, the new additions to the game are quite forgettable: there's five mini-games that you and your partner can play, none of which really do much other than gaining you heart levels for your partner and DP points to spend on more cards. There's also a Monster Rancher-type game recognition system that allows you to get three copies of a certain card if you use it with different games; other than getting the three playable Egyptian Gods from the original Tag Force game, though, there's not really much point to it. The best addition by far, though, has to be the spectator mode, which allows you to pit your in-game partner against any duelist you challenge (or any two NPC duelists in Free Duel mode), allowing you to get a glimpse into their decks and find out what you'll be facing.
As far as cards go, you have most of the cards up to Tactical Evolution, along with the Cloudians from Gladiator's Assault, meaning that practically any deck you're currently playing with in real life can be transferred flawlessly into this game. The card renter and card converter are still in here, but surprisingly, you're also given the option of trading cards with other players over ad-hoc mode, which really ups the interactivity of the game and cuts down on the randomness of the converter or buying packs in the game's store. However, there are several card-based glitches in the game, so be warned that not every card will act like it should. My personal favorite addition, though, is the ability to choose where to play cards on the field (a mechanic probably implemented for ease of use with the Column cards, cards that can move around the Monster Card Zones and have effects that rely on what's in the same column they're in); it's a subtle touch, which won't make that big of an impact against the opponent, but I have found that randomly setting cards around does tend to confuse the opponent.
The graphics and sound are the same as in the original Tag Force, but the story's really disjointed; supposedly taking place during Season 2 through the first part of Season 3, this game somehow decides to mush the two seasons together, starting you with the Overseas Champs already at the school, with the Society of Light nowhere to be seen. More confusing, is that the story changes depending on who's your partner, so it's possible to finish the game with one character and never encounter the Society. That seems rather stupid to me, especially considering how linear and organized the storyline for the original game was; instead of expanding the playability with all of these branching storylines, they're all tied up in a Gordian Knot that you can't really unravel to figure out what's going on.
I really wanted to like this game; I really did. I felt the first Tag Force was near perfection, the game that all Yu-Gi-Oh! games should be...and then they stomped all over my expectations with the brutal and unforgiving AI difficulty and disjointed storyline. At most, I use it now mostly as a test bed for any new decks I come up with, and that's sad. Hopefully the connectivity with it to its PS2 counterpart, The Beginning of Destiny, makes up for it, even slightly, but I'm not holding my breath.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/07
Game Release: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2 (US, 09/18/07)
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