War..huh, what is it good for? Well PSP gaming actually
Few phrases in gaming truly terrify me. But ?Turn Based Strategy? hits the spot every time. I have flash backs to Napoleonic re-enactments on my old C64 and my Dads Civil war games on his PC. So when THQ sent me a copy of Warhammer 40,000 Squad Command, it was with mixed feelings that I put it into my PSP. On the one hand here was a turn based strategy. On the other was a fond memory of little die cast figurines I would collect as a child, of painting Ultra Marines and Terminators and reading White Dwarf magazine.
Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command, puts you in charge of a small force of Imperium Ultramarines in a fight against the Chaos legions. Although the plot is a little limited, the story is told with jaw droppingly sexy cut scenes!
I can play it on the train to work
The game mechanics should be familiar to anyone who has had dealings with turn based games. You select a unit and give it an action. This is where you will see one of the few niggles with Squad Command. There are not a lot of actions to choose from! You can move, shoot, duck or guard. This is not a bad thing if, like me, you are more of an action junkie as it does speed up proceedings! But the true strategist may have an issue with the lack of control. Each action takes up action points, once they have been used you are stuck where you are. So every move has to be calculated and thought about, otherwise you will find yourself stood in the open with no hope of survival!
The basic nature of the controls lead to a limited set of strategies, however this does not mean the game is simple. If you don’t take care then the AI will destroy you! The Chaos legions may not have the best tactics ever, and the AI may not be able to launch overly strategic assaults, but it can get the job done, you never get the feeling that you can let your guard down. You will find the system a little clunky to start with, but give it a few goes and it begins to make sense.
Mission structure is again limited, mostly consisting of kill everyone and survive or destroy something and survive. This does make it very well suited to a portable games system though, as you tend to be playing in short bursts, so 10 hour battles are a bit pointless! Successful missions lead to upgrades. You get better troops, better weapons and more action points as you go along. As time goes by, getting the equipment load for your team correct becomes very important.
The graphics are very detailed, with destructible scenery the explodes pleasingly and nice character models. Care and attention has been taken to make sure this feels right. The only problem is the camera. The default angles can make it hard to work out where objects are in relation to each other. Music and sound effects are passable, with your usual ?As you command? type responses to orders that we can blame Command and Conquer for.
So it is a simple, short (15 missions only) turn based strategy, with limited actions and mediocre sound. But for me it is the perfect turn based strategy. It is simple, it is short and it is fun. The limited strategies and short missions mean that I can play it on the train to work (in fact I nearly missed my stop today!). Multiplayer makes it possible to add some longevity with ad-hoc AND infrastructure modes!
For my money this is a good game to own for the casual strategist. 5 star generals need not apply!
The Bad: To simple for some, clunky controls and iffy camera!