Laser Squad Nemesis Review (PC)
Anyone who remembers the original Laser Squad will feel right at home here as, from what I can remember, not a lot has changed within the actual game mechanics. What is different, and brings a whole new lifespan to the game, is the fact that this is a Play By Email (PBEM) game. There is no single player game apart from the initial tutorial, you just have to jump right in & choose an opponent.
Games start out on a mutually agreed map and the 1st decision will be what forces to utilize with the points available to you. You can initially choose between 3 races - the ubiquitous Marines, the formidable Machina or the fast & furious Spawn – each one giving its own ‘feeling’ to the gameplay. Once sorted, you will place your troops within the deployment zone, make a quick prayer to the great God of Gameplay, and E it off. Following the initial deployment, the decisions start getting tricky – just how many should you leave as defence? Who would be best for assault? Will I need a reserve? etc. etc. etc. As a general rule – all will go perfectly to plan until 1st contact – then its very pear shaped until you can start regaining control of the situation. The real joy comes in trying to outguess your opponent as this is no AI that will follow a given set of rules – it may well be worth lobbing a grenade down that corridor ‘just in case’ but don’t be surprised to see one coming back at you from a totally different direction. All out, gung-ho rushes are not even worth the effort – you very often do not have enough troops to overwhelm anyway & it is surprising how quickly your great force can run out of ammo or just get cut to ribbons by a few well sited defenders.
Being a multiplayer-only game, the quality of your opponents is just as important as the gameplay itself. Here is where Nemesis really stands out, featuring probably the friendliest user community I have ever found. You’ve played the Tutorials, now try a live opponent – It’s as easy as that. The message board is well used and there doesn’t appear to be any of the one-upmanship common to other communities – seasoned veterans are more than happy to play newbies & teach them a few tricks (or even learn some themselves) – everyone seems to realise that all players have something to offer. After a few games you will more than likely start heading for the league tables to get yourself a world ranking and make a name for yourself.
The graphics are functional but tend to look very ‘basic’ compared to other strategy games. There is no great detail and I often have trouble trying to identify each unit. Plotting complex movement or firing paths can be difficult due to the scale but otherwise all is cleanly rendered and features plenty of animation.
Basic at best, being sound effects only. Nothing spectacular, but adequate.
Different every time. No time pressure. People to chat to while waiting. New races & improvements pending – nuff said.
I’m a firm believer in being able to read up to check things out & to do that I like to have a book in my hands. I don’t want to have to suspend a game while loading up Acrobat to find out just how to do something. With game prices as high as they are there ought to be a damn good manual with EVERY game.
In these days of high speed Internet access it is nice to come across a game that can be played just as effectively with something like a 28 bps modem. The community is an absolute must – you may well find yourself playing someone ‘just around the corner’ and can meet up for a good after battle beer session. Some people remembering the original as fondly as I do will be upset about the lack of a single player game (one is promised though) and this should not influence your decision to buy the game – it is worth it.