Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together Playtest – A War of Loyalty and Choices

By Laura . March 27, 2011 . 5:01pm

My first impression of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Togther led to conflicting feelings — I’d heard that its predecessor, Ogre Battle 64, was one of the best N64 games of its time, yet the subtitle "Let Us Cling Together" was such an odd translation of a game title that it set me on edge. Luckily, my sense of doubt was quickly assuaged when I learnt that  "Let Us Cling Together" is based off one of the titles by the rock band, Queen, and the game quickly grew on me once I began to play it.

 

Let Us Cling Together’s story is too complex to be described in a short paragraph, but here’s a try.  The protagonist (whose default name is Denam), his sister Catiua, and his best friend Vyce are orphans from Walister, a state that is oppressed by the Galgastan.  Tactics Ogre starts off with our small group discussing what to do; they’re tired of being treated like serfs and they’re planning their own small revolt (yes, just by themselves, the three of them).

 

Luckily, they meet up with a band of mercenaries who were exiled from the neighboring country of Xenobia, who agree to help them free the Duke of Walister from Galgastan hands.  The story continues with Denam and co. helping the Duke rebuild Walister.  However, paths diverge when the question arises — just how far are you willing to go to fight for your country?  For your ideals?

 

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together actually sports the subtitle of "Episode VII."  It is the third game in the series, with the first two being Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (Episode V) and Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (Episode VI).  Luckily, no previous knowledge is needed to play this game.  If you really want to know the background history behind the wars, the countries, and the more nitty-gritty political aspects, you can watch a narrated video from the start menu (by not doing anything) that explains some of the previous events.  I’m not sure if it’s about what occurred during the prequels to the game, but it does provide helpful background information.

 

One of the highlights of Tactics Ogre is its infusion of "choice" into the game.  At the beginning, you’re given a selection of six questions, based off twelve tarot cards, that help adjust Denam’s stats.  At certain points in the story, you’re given choices.  Most of these determine how much your units like you, but there are a select few that are especially important and decide which story branch you walk down.  Broken down, you start off on Path 1, which branches into Paths 2 and 3.  Path 3 continues into Path 6, while Path 2 branches into Paths 4 and 5 before reuniting at Path 6.  Aspects of Path 6 differ depending on which routes you took to get there.

 

The route you take affects more than just the plot.  Similar to Shin Megami Tensei, the main character has an “alignment” in Let Us Cling Together.  Depending on the route, it’s either Law, Neutral, or Chaos.  Also like in SMT, these categories don’t refer to "Good" or "Evil," but rather to whether you believe more in loyalty and following rules or more in freedom.  Every character in Tactics Ogre has an allegiance, and every character also has an invisible "loyalty" rating that fluctuates depending on the choices you make and the path you’re on.  It’s obviously easier to keep Law-allied characters with you if you yourself are on the Law(ful) path because their beliefs coincide with yours.  If you don’t keep the loyalty of your allies high enough, they may desert your army, even if they’re characters important to the story.

 

This theme pervades battles as well.  Fairly early in the game, you get an ability called the “Chariot Tarot” (as you can tell, there’s a strong tarot card theme running rampant as well).  By holding the L and R buttons, you’re allowed to rewind up to 50 turns in the battles; if you’re not happy with a choice you made, you can rewind the battle and try a different option.  I personally never made much use of this for major decisions because the battles aren’t that hard if you’ve trained properly, but it is extremely handy if you make some sort of stupid mistake (like landing a critical hit on your healer because you accidentally miscalculated the trajectory for an archer…).

 

After finishing the game once, you’re also given access to the World Tarot, which allows you to restart the game from major checkpoints.  This way, you don’t have to restart the game three times (or create three different save files) to play all the different routes.

 

Tactics Ogre has quite a few other unique aspects to it as well, some of which are designed to bring you further into the world.  One of my favorites is the Warren Report, which includes all sorts of useful background information.  There’s a character section that constantly updates with information in the game and some that’s not in the game.  There’s also a section for events that allows you to view any of the story events again and an accompanying route map that puts the events in perspective of other routes.  There’s also an interesting "news" section that is written like editorials in a newspaper (sometimes, reading these unlock sidequests as well).

 

I also loved the way characters are recruited.  One way is by purchasing them at a local Shop, but another way is to grab units straight from the battlefield.  Almost every class can learn a skill that recruits a certain class of characters (human units, dragon units, beast units, reptile units, etc.).  Recruiting works kind of like in Pokémon, normally. The weaker the enemy, the easier they are to recruit. 

 

In addition, the less loyal they are to their original allegiance, the more likely they are to switch sides.  However, if you overdo the damage and bring it down extremely low, their starting loyalty with you starts out low too.  All of this adds a different dynamic to battles, since keeping a character alive just enough to grab them is much harder than killing them outright … while the opponent is affected by no such compunctions.

 

Another factor that affects loyalty is the number of people from each allegiance that you kill.  If you kill too many Walisters, the Walisters will slowly start growing less loyal towards you.  Luckily, the effect of this is so slow it would take a lot of deaths to alienate yourself from most of your allies.  Still, the inclusion of this factor makes the game seem more realistic, which is something I really enjoyed.  You can check the number of units from each allegiance you’ve killed by checking the Warren Report as well.

 

Battles in Tactics Ogre, unlike in most strategy RPGs, are focused on completing the campaign rather than defeating as many enemies as possible in the process.  Usually battles are won by defeating the commander of an area, although sometimes you do have to vanquish all enemies on a map.  When it’s the former, there really is no advantage to killing everyone other than increasing your skill aptitude and getting more dropped items. 

 

Enemies sometimes also drop Tarot Cards, which function both as items and permanent stat upgrades.  You don’t even have to worry about running around to collect all the items; all item bags are automatically collected at the end of the battle.  The Tarot Cards, on the other hand, are not.  (Oh, but the enemy can get to the items first; and then they’re gone forever.)

 

Also, the amount of EXP and skill points you get for each battle is the same no matter how many enemies you defeat.  One unique aspect of Tactics Ogre is that levels are attributed to classes, not individual characters.  (Skill points, on the other hand, are for every character that’s participated in the battle.)  For example, if you get a new character that’s a Warrior, and you’ve been training your Warriors up to level 14, your new Warrior starts out at level 14.  This seems very handy, but the problem starts when you receive a new class.  I really wanted to use the SwordMaster class when I obtained it, but at level 1, it was hardly useful when every enemy on the field is level 16.  Enemies level up with your team, and the only way to train new classes is to put a unit in a battle and keep him at the back of the line.

 

Units that have fallen gain EXP for their class and individual skill points as well.  Well, that is, if they’re not incapacitated.  Dying is fairly complicated in Tactics Ogre, but it’s all for the better.  Once a unit’s HP falls to 0, they collapse on the field and a number "3" appears over their head.  For every one of the unit’s turns after they fall, the countdown goes down, and only when the counter reaches 0 does the unit actually disappear from the field.  Until then, you have the chance to complete the campaign or revive the character.  If a character does "die," his life counter will drop by one.  Once it drops from 3 to 0, that character is gone forever (a la Fire Emblem).  All in all, this system makes the game much more forgiving, since permanent deaths are very much preventable.

 

Tactics Ogre definitely isn’t the hardest SRPG I’ve ever played.  It is, however, the most enjoyable, story-wise and system-wise.  I absolutely love Denam and the rest of the army, and I can personally relate to Denam as he makes what he (or rather, you) thinks are the best choices in the war.  In fact, when I played a second route, one that I hadn’t chosen during my first playthrough, I felt disgusted with myself because the actions I (Denam) took didn’t agree with my moral values at all.  Not many games can make one relate on that level.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1.)  The font in the game reminds me a lot of the font used in comic books.  I can’t name it (though I know some font fanatics who might be able to…) but it gives the dialogue a unique feel.

 

2.)  About the only complaint I have about Tactics Ogre is the fact that because there is just so much to scroll through, the menus seem very crowded.  Luckily, the game attempts to alleviate this by creating subcategories that are easily navigable.

 

3.)  Every projectile weapon has a trajectory that is heavily affected by height.  You can even aim outside the highlighted range and snipe the enemy from far away if you’re standing on a cliff.  Magic attacks are also affected, though in a different way.  If the elevation is too high, the direct-line trajectory would hit a wall instead of the target.  Magics and arrows also tend to hit whoever is directly in line, so if an ally is standing in the way, they are hit rather than your intended target.  This can actually be used to your advantage, since long range attacks typically can’t hit units less than 2 blocks away.

 

4.)  If some aspects of the game seem familiar, like the art or the music or even the less unique aspects of the game system, that may be because there are many familiar faces from the Final Fantasy Tactics team.


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  • Testsubject909

    Oh yes, Tactics Ogre is definitely a wonderful game.

    Mind you, you only need to press L to open up the Chariot.

    Oh and, pretty damn good for a remake of a PS1 remake of a SNES game, huh? (Yes, Episode 7 came out before Episode 6 on the N64… Odd, isn’t it?)

    • Xien12

      And yet Yasumi Matsuno seems to have no intention of completing the series.

      • Moriken

        He probably can’t think of any more Queen song titles he wants to use…

        • http://www.facebook.com/tomasu13 Tom Van Ommeren

          How about Fat Bottomed Girls?

        • 128bitigor

          Radio Gaga would be now a total sellout.

          (And apparently TO sold so well Matsuno will make a sequel… I wonder though, since his and SE relationship seems to be rather sour)

  • Xien12

    Note that Tactics Ogre preceded FFT by about 2 years.

  • Ereek

    2.) About the only complaint I have about Tactics Ogre is the fact that because there is just so much to scroll through, the menus seem very crowded. Luckily, the game attempts to alleviate this by creating subcategories that are easily navigable.

    I’d say there’s more bad than that.
    For example, the crafting system is a huge, gigantic mess. It feels like it was just tossed in so that the game has more features. Having to create ores one-by-one and when you need 10+ of them to make an Ingot, of which you need 2 Ingots to make an item was an absolutely horrible design choice.
    And, for that matter, not being able to see the stats on items you’ve yet to create.

    Also, I know the game is old, but with so much updated, you’d think they’d have added the “fitting room” like FFT has.

    The entire Chaos Frame system needs to be replaced. The idea is good, but implemented horribly. Getting a certain character requires a death march of 2-3 hours of nothing but suicides on auto-battle.

    Other than these problems, I played it to death. All the way through the Palace. Without auto-battle.

    On the plus side, Oz is absolutely delicious.

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      Oh yes, the crafting system. I’d forgotten about that. My main complaint with that was that it could only make one item at a time. I rarely used the thing because it only upgraded items and never created new ones (or did, but rarely). I almost never had the original item to upgrade =|

      I really liked the Chaos Frame concept. I’m not sure about it being implemented badly; I just know that on certain routes, characters really hate you and it’s almost impossible to change their initial opinion of you. Maybe the fact that there’s so little impact is a sign that it could be worked out better?

      You like Oz? I’m on the Neutral/Chaos route. He was a real annoyance in that route thanks to the fact that I had to save Cerya. *grumbles*

      I liked … my dragon(s) and Canopus. You can’t not like Canopus.

      • Ereek

        I go Chaos. Law route does have one character I really like though.

        Since you don’t seem to be on Chapter 4 Chaos -> Chaos, you can’t recruit the character who requires CF. When you do this character’s path, you’ll realize why I hate the system so much. It’s a good idea in theory, but the way it worked for the character is one of the worst grinds I’ve done in years.

        As for Oz, I love how brutal he is. On Law he’s even worse than on Chaos, as it’s impossible to save Cerya on Law. I’m sure you can imagine what happens to her. Now multiply that by 10 and you’ll probably just be touching on it. On the other hand, if you do take Law, you can save another female character from a gruesome fate.

        The females in this game have the worst fates. Either way, someone is going to end up in a state worse than death.

      • LastFootnote

        The cool thing about upgraded items is that they often have a cool ability in addition to higher stats. For instance, my Wizards have Buckler+1, which gives total immunity to Silence. A Shortbow +1 has a chance to paralyze on a hit, I believe. Just a few examples.

  • Jirin

    I thought TacticsOgre had eight unique paths that you brought about by three decision points. Was this reduced, or did it always branch back together at the end.

    I don’t like the idea of the ‘Battle rewind’ system. Tactical games shouldn’t give you a hedge that allows you to take risks without taking the consequences.

    • Ereek

      It always branched back at the end, so it’s the same. While all paths eventually lead to the same place, how you get there is different. Different characters will be alive, different responses will be necessary in a certain scene in order to succeed, the like. The final chapter will be different depending on your previous chapter choices, but not drastically enough that I would consider it a completely different “path.”

      Also, the “rewind” system is optional. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. It’s not forced down your throat. What’s wrong with that?

      • Jirin

        You shouldn’t have to ignore one of a game’s main features for it to be a challenge. At the very least there should be a ‘hard’ difficulty setting that disables it.

        Newer games try so hard to remove the ‘game’ aspect of gaming. Sometimes you’d even buy a game, and never manage to beat it. When you did beat it, it’d feel like an accomplishment. It’s fine to have the easier difficulty setting for players who would rather read an interactive visual novel than play a game. But don’t take out the challenging version of the game, so old school gamers can have a challenge without having to artificially restrict themselves.

        • http://www.hey-hey-listen.com ChibiD

          to be honest though, the Chariot Tarot often doesnt allow for too much battle correction. 50 turns sounds like alot, but when you have 30 enemies on the field, it can often mean you can only change 1 or 2 moves per unit

          • Ereek

            Also true. For some of the larger battles, sometimes slower characters can only go back one turn. And even then there are times that you can’t “fix” the battle. This becomes especially apparent on the “Save-the-NPC” missions.

            Chariot is not “instant-win.”

            However, I would make the argument that Quick-Saves not deleting does allow for more leniency than Chariot. That would be something to complain about more than the Chariot system.

          • http://www.hey-hey-listen.com ChibiD

            seriously the archer girl in chapter 2 was soooooo hard to save, i must have dropped back to the start of the fight like 30 or so times, but never could get close enough to save her, has to lvl and send a cleric to the front lines.

        • Ereek

          Here’s where you’re wrong:
          The Chariot system is not a main feature in the game. It’s a side feature. The job system is a main feature. The alignment system is a main feature, even Chaos Frame is a main feature even though most people don’t even know it’s there. Chariot is a feature that can be ignored completely with no penalty whatsoever (exception: see below).

          Also, for all of the so-called “old-school gamers who enjoy a challenge” (I would generally consider myself one of them, but not in this case) you’re only hurting yourself in this case. Farming 30 Pumpkins for Wicce will take 10+ hours instead of 2-3 with Chariot. If you want to do ridiculous things like that, be my guest. If for nothing else, Chariot is amazing simply as a time saver.
          When I was younger, I’d spend the 10 hours doing it for my own pride. Now that I’m older, I realize that my pride about that type of thing is ridiculous.

          For all of this nonsense, you are actually rewarded with a title for not using Chariot. And for no incapacitations. So yes, you do get something, albeit pointless, for playing it the “hardcore” way.

          There is nothing wrong with making a game more accessible as long as it isn’t dumbing the game down. There is no dumbing down with the simple addition of being able to fix a mistake. A more valid complaint about difficulty would be the addition of lives. You would actually have to work to get anyone permanently killed in this game.
          I’d say play it first and then get back to me. You’re criticizing something you’re not even familiar with and assuming it’s a much bigger deal than it is.

        • raymk

          I get what your saying but you sound kinda like someone else I know that takes these things way to seriously. I played contra hard corps uprising not long ago and people are mad that the game basically added a mode that would allow people to beat the game that couldn’t otherwise. Now while there is the classic mode in that game people get mad at the feature because it allows newb’s to beat the game with little effort.

          One thing you have to understand is that #1 everyone patience isn’t the same and #2 not everyone has the same amount of time to play the games they play and want to just see the ending/story. Now i’m an old school gamer myself and i like my games hard like ninja gaiden. Now while I could get mad at simple modes and things like that they add in games I understand that you can’t please everyone and that a game must be fun before all else.

          To answer your question chariot system isn’t part of the main feature of the game its more like a side feature. Its also on psp which is why I’m sure they did that in the first place. Also I don’t really get a sense of accomplishment from any games except competitive games because I haven’t found a single player challenge game I couldn’t beat. When it comes to actual real life challengers that’s when things become hard to deal with.

          • Exkaiser

            Have you beaten Rogue? Now there’s an accomplishment.

          • raymk

            Nope I will look into it thanks =D. Its not that I don’t feel happy about completing games though even hard one’s. its just that its nothing inside of me that makes me feel like I got anywhere. I’m under the impression that no matter how hard the game is you will do it one day if you keep at it. The same can’t always be said for competitive games or sports because there’s some people I can’t beat at certain things and we’ve been competitive for years lol.

          • Exkaiser

            It’s just personal outlook, really.

            I mean, myself, I don’t really get anything out of beating other people. I just like the act of playing them, not of beating them.

  • Aiddon

    ah TO, the best game SE has released in quite some time. Heck, it’s probably going to be the best game they’ll release all year

  • Tom_Phoenix

    I bought the Premium Edition of this game recently and it is still sitting shrink wrapped on my shelf. While I would love to play it, I still have a whole slew of other games that I currently have on hold and I don’t feel good about adding another. It doesn’t help that I am in the middle of a playthrough of a similar game; namely, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. That said, I will probably crack it open at the beginning of April and play it until SRW Z2 is released.

    On topic, thanks a lot for this preview. If I didn’t read it, I wouldn’t have known about the narrated video at the start menu (since I tend to go past a menu very quickly). Also, it makes me look forward to playing this game even more.

    • Exkaiser

      The narrated video is the same as the english voice-acted trailer that was posted on here a while back, if you’ve seen that.

      • Tom_Phoenix

        Oh, I see. I guess I will find that video and watch it in advance. Thanks for the tip.

  • kupomogli

    Own it but haven’t played the PSP version yet. But I’m still pissed off with Square Enix and their crappy retranslations.

    Denam, Vyce, Catiua, Xenobia, Walister, Galgastani, etc. :(. While I’m sure there’s nothing available as it wasn’t available in the PSX version, I just there would be an option to change the story characters names atleast. If I have to and it’s not too difficult, I’ll hack the save file to change the names.

    Another thing that I don’t like about it is that since all classes are tied to a single level rather than each character. This means that you can no longer create characters with different stats based on the classes you leveled them up as, similar to any Tactics Ogre prior and FFTactics Advance.

    • raymk

      Whats wrong with the name changes their actually pretty good translations for the game and I don’t usually like name changes(NISA cough!!). I’m also happy that the classes are like they are now if I want the old way I can always play the more broken psx version of the game and that game is good as well.

  • Soma

    Just picked this up today!
    And I got the sweet Tarot card deck that came as a bonus for pre-orders. Good day? Great day!

  • Ladius

    One of SE’s best games this generation, and an example (along with Oath in Felghana) of how JRPG remakes should be handled by competent teams.

    PSP’s lineup is really stellar because of jrpgs like this one, Trails in the Sky, the Ys games and the Valkyria Chronicles titles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Morandi/100000837836996 Daniel Morandi

      And is one of the best thing that SE did lately. Just play Parasite Eve 3rd for example, it was ugly plotwise speaking.

      • Ladius

        Plotwise it was a mess, but at least it was a good tps with enjoyable mechanics and good production values… of course those who will buy it because of the rpg elements or because they hope to see a true PE sequel (and not a completely unrelated plot with PE characters thrown in) are in for a disappointment, I fear.

      • 128bitigor

        Yet it TO story was done good 15 years ago in times of Squaresoft so it’s not really their effort. Although thanks to original staff working on the game the new bits are just as good as the original script.

    • Hraesvelgr

      It’s a shame Square Enix didn’t put the same amount of effort into War of the Lions. While the translation of the games is considerably better, the overall game itself is pretty bad. The battle lag and sound effects especially make me sad.

      • raymk

        You talking about War of the lions or Tactics ogre? I haven’t experienced any battle lag in TO yet and i’m on my second play through so it must be WOTL.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/Ojsinnerz Firo_Prochainezo

          Yeah, he’s talking of War of the lions.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Smith/100001371066080 Robert Smith

            Yeah, as bad as the lag in FFT:War of the Lions (PSP) is, don’t forget that there’s other benefits for the port too including new story, characters, missions and a really amazing set of cutscenes all hand drawn and voice acted.

      • Ladius

        Yeah, let’s hope that the next FFT porting is able to fix those issues. TO was far more polished.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Morandi/100000837836996 Daniel Morandi

    Is never late for a remake of a game like this and I think a lot of JRPG should take one or two things as example. I really love the plot, lately I did play a lot of JRPG with weaks storylines but this game just came at the right time.

  • http://twitter.com/ChaseBurr Chase Bonner

    great article dude. i now understand a little more about this game. (yes i own it)

  • raymk

    I’ll be honest I knew this game would have flaws the best of them do. This is still the best game i’ve played on psp though and one of the better rpg’s i’ve played in a long time. The good outweighs the bad in this game by a lot.

  • http://strictlyapathy.comoj.com/ SoulArbiter

    Want this game. So bad…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000301072427 Mark Shaver

    Hey Baby, I can see your compunction!

  • 128bitigor

    What a nice playtest. I love TO, it really is one of the best games in the past couple of years… I loved the choices included in the story, I had to sometimes stop and really think about the possible outcomes and what would be for the best and yet I found myself quite surprised.

    I am a whore for Matsuno games.

  • elroid

    This game has been done very trickily. As all the features written in most reviews really deserves high scores for its rating and the flaws are hard to be noticed or neglect-able at first. However, the game is actually not friendly enough in terms of post game values, maybe even for late games…

    Most flaws of the game are all related to items in some way. Firstly, the items in the shop of game were not updated according to the level of the player, which means even if the player went for grinding in the first playthrough, he would still need update their equipments by battles. Whats worse is the shop will only update until around lv.23 and it will stop adding new items. The rest are all depend on the player the hunt themselves.

    Secondly, the items dropped by enemies are completely randomed. And worse of all, it is still depended on the level of the player. For example, I remember there is one time defeated an archer with a set of equipment around lv. 27 while I was still around Lv. 22, I end up getting a bow that is less than my level. The only efficient way getting equipments from enemies are by recruiting them, strip them naked, then leave him or get rid of him. I’ll say this is a very abundant way though, as equipments affects greatly the flow of a battle.

    Also, like Ereek has said, the shop should at least add a fitting room or to see which equipment are best for the characters and crafting items one-by-one really destroys the mood, especially after a failure that already wasted a lot of time crafting the other materials.

    By the way, the Chariot system will also ended up being abused especially during item hunting. A good example is during the process of hunting 30 pumpkin heads and not forget to mention recruiting the dragons in order to get the magic orbs to recruit Deneb as Wicce. The game has already set some items to be only dropped by specific enemies type or individuals while most player would not know unless they checked from the Internet (or maybe from the strategy guide). And most of the time these items were rare drops which causes the player to be even harder to get the items. The player has to abuse the Chariot to RNG in order to obtain items and it also consumes a hell lot of time because the player would also has to reset from the turn he kill the target instead of the turn he got the loot. And by the way, there are also many individual enemies that drops specific crafting recipe in the Pharompa Woods.

    The game also seems to be a little lacking in term of the aspect of providing informations. For example, the buffs and debuffs or ailements were only mentioned by their names and there is no way to check what are their affects unless the player learns by their own experience. The Warren report also mention each race/class has their strength and weakness in their atrributes, but I can’t seem to check the details though. Well, we can still get over with it without knowing them and complete the game, it is just that they included many features without explaining them with details.

    So yeah… I might have complaint too much. But I really think this game is very tricky as the item flaw is hard to be noticed or neglect-able at first and made it to be praised as a very good game. I do not deny that this is indeed a very good game, but I really think it does not deserve the scores for its rating, as they are not mentioned in the reviews and it is the most critical part that spoils the game…

  • RupanIII

    Been playing this lately and wow.. I’m always saying it but, they really don’t make ‘em like they used to! Been a while since I had that old feeling while gaming of ‘okay.. just one more battle..’ where you’re totally drawn into story and gameplay. Makes you a little melancholy too, though.. nearly every new Squaresoft game used to be so immersive/polished/must-buy. With any luck the game will sell well and convince SE to look to the past for inspiration.

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