Line Of Defense Tactics Review (PC)

A spin-off product to the Line of Defence MMO that’s also currently in development, Line of Defence Tactics – Tactical Advantage (aside from possessing a name that’s way too long) this is a top-down real-time squad-based tactical strategy game where you control a group of soldiers through a series of 16 single-player missions, and a single skirmish scenario. The missions start off simple, letting you get to grips with the game and how it works, and get more and more challenging and complicated as you go along. The skirmish mission is a simple horde-mode, where you and your team need to hold out as long as possible.

Your team is a predefined squad of four soldiers, each with their own specialisation and role. Commander, Recon, Support, Heavy etc... These soldiers can be further customised and specialised (or made more diverse) through spending points. The game nets you with around 1000 points to begin with, and then you earn more as you play through missions. This means that you can ‘grind’ missions over and over again for more points; although once you’ve had your fill of the single-player campaign there’s actually little point. All in all, it’s a simple game that’s not terribly well designed, and a bit clunky in execution.

The thing is, it’s a bit too obvious that the game’s target market isn’t the PC. The top-down view, the way the controls work, and the way you can click on a guy and then drag him to its target. This is a game, first and foremost, for the tablet, and there’s nothing wrong with that but you’ve got to make sure it all gets translated properly. Even with keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys, it’s all a bit counter-intuitive. The game plays out in real-time, except when you’re giving orders to your squad members. An actual pause button wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s not too big of a deal.

And that’s just problems with the interface and controls. Regardless of which platform you’re playing on, the overall design is a bit of a let-down as well. AI movement and behaviour is especially poor – with squad movement so bad that you really have to control them all individually, which takes up time and is a bit fiddly. Troops don’t always do what you want them to do either, and LOD Tactics can catch you out when you expect a certain level of competence from your troops. For example – if a man was behind cover, and you told him to fire a rocket launcher at some guys on the other side, a sane man would surely step out of cover THEN fire. In LOD Tactics, your troops will defy your expectations by simply being a bit derpy. It’s not a big deal when you realise this, I guess, but it just adds another layer of consideration, and over all there’s more micro-management than there needs to be.

The single-player campaign, if you can through it despite the faults, isn’t bad, I’ll give it that. The missions get more and more varied – you start off infiltrating a ship to take it over, and then you can control that ship an take it on further missions. Your pilot is able to jump into a range of vehicles that appear through-out the cause of the game, and things do get better. Marginally. The poor start though would be enough to make anyone regret the money they spent acquiring this game.

I rarely question the very existence of a game, but I can’t help but project a question mark onto LOD Tactics. It’s not a particularly good advert for the brand, or the MMO. It’s way too pricey for what it is, and it’s got very little replayability. Coupled with the fact that there are plenty of games on tablet that do what it’s trying to do so so much better (The tablet port of XCOM, for example) that, really, this looks incredibly amateurish by comparison. I imagine some of the problems I’ve outlined aren’t as big a deal on tablet, but we don’t review tablet games, so we’ve just stuck with the PC version here. My advice is, give it a miss, and perhaps just go check out the MMO instead.

Top Game Moment: The last mission is alright, I guess.