Wandering about on ECTS we saw a smaller booth, without that much decoration and filled with flight/trainsims and football manager software. Our first reaction was just to walk by.
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Two days later and after walking by several dozens of times we saw that there was also a strategy game being shown. A bit of strategy game fans ourselves, we
couldn’t resist the urge and went down to check it out. Quickly identified as being “Laser Squad Nemesis”, the game made us feel very unpleasant about ourselves, for not recognizing it.
Honestly, we didn’t know what the game was about, except for having read about it on Penny
Arcade. We were shocked to find out that it was a game by the Gollop brothers. The people behind the very well known X-com series. A brand name that was stolen from these game-loving developers by big corporations (*cough*Hasbro*cough*) and is now “lost” somwhere in the Intellectual Property haystack. Big shame.
We were introduced to none other than Julian Gollop, who explained us a bit about Laser Squad Nemesis (LSN), which is a remake of the 1988 “Laser Squad” by the same people.
The first thing that intrigued us, was that it was turn based. Now, before you get the idea in your head that turn-based games should be inferior to “real-time” games let me tell you something.
Before the times of Command and Conquer and Dune, strategy games were played in turns. Very much like chess or any other board game. This has advantages over Real Time, because it basically allows you to think out what you will do, instead of having to move like a zillion monkies to get the defenses up before the first enemy rush comes in. Ofcourse, one can say that speed is part of the strategy too, but in the humble opinion of yours truly, I think that’s rather an aspect of action, where it comes down to how fast you can move and click.
To get back to LSN, something that’s really interesting is that the online multiplayer game is play-by-e-mail. What happens is this: You plan and confirm your actions. Then the moves you made will be sent to a central server by email, which will process this information and send it trough to your opponent. He will receive this as an attachment and can open it with his client.
The first thing that comes to mind is: in a setup like this, it seems a bit redundant to use e-mail to send the data, instead of sending it directly. Julian told us this was just an artifact from the older days and that they are working on a model that would send the data directly to the server. On the other hand, it’s easier to have your opponents next turn waiting for you in your inbox when you return to the office on monday.
This ofcourse makes you wonder: how long does a game last? Well, we’ve been told that if you play non-stop you can finish a game in about 2 hours. But there’s actually no limit to how long it can last. Unless you set in a timelimit, it should all depend on how fast and how often you and your opponents play.
LSN allows you to play against one (human) opponent, so it’s only 1 on 1. But you can play more than one game simultaniously, as many games as you can handle.
You can choose from 3 different races in LSN: Machina (human made robots gone bad), Marines (humans, always bad?), Spawn (gory aliens) and there’s a fourth race called the Greys that should be available soon and who knows what the future might hold.
The game client, which has beatiful graphics, is supposed to run on very low-end PC’s, because basically the only 3D that’s being used is the optional lighting effects. The rest is good old sprites, which gives the game a nice old-school look to it. A linux version of the client is expected, but we weren’t given a release date. After the linux version a MAc OS X version can be expected too. There were also plans on doing an N-GAGE version of the client. You read that on fragland first, so spread the word :p
The central server that is used to process the e-mailed game data in order to prevent cheating will also allow the creation of leagues and ladders. It will also make it easier for you to find an opponent.
Julian also told us that they wanted to keep the learning curve as managable as possible for everyone. Easy to learn, hard to master is the term for it I suppose 🙂
The community has a lot to do with the game too: thanks to the powerfull editor supplied by Codo the community itself is responsible for some of the most popular maps. They also actively help translate LSN into different languages.
When we asked Julian about the future, he said a 3D version was on their schedules.
The game should be released in retail this week in the UK and soon in Germany and italy.
You can check out their website for a downloadable demo at www.lasersquadnemesis.com.
You can also expect a detailed review and some specials on this title on fragland!