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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Laser Squad
1989 Blade Software
Programmed by Nick Gollop
 
ost text of the present article comes from the review published in the fifty third issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: August 17th, 1989).
 

LASER SQUAD
Blade Software, C64, 9.95 cassette, 14.95 disk


An offshoot of a deal involving programming team Teque and The Software Business Ltd, Blade Software is a new company although Laser Squad isn't new, having surfaced previously through Target Games.

The game begins well with the squad being equipped with armour and weaponry using 200 credits. Armour comes in four types, ranging from light and cheap through to expensive dreadnought thickness. For weapons the squad can buy automatic and sniper rifles, light and heavy duty lasers, explosives, AP50 grenades and daggers, all providing different levels of damage for varying cost.

The type of mission to be undertaken dictates the tactics and weapons the squad will use. The three missions call for differing courses of action: secret attack (The Assassins), outright attack (Moonbase Assault) and a covert rescue operation (Rescue from the Mines). Two bonus missions are included for disk owners, involving defence of a rebel station (The Cyber Hordes) and a subsequent retreat from the station while under alien attack (Paradise Valley), 2CN'ers can obtain the Expansion Tape One from Target Games.

Once armed, the squad deploys in set areas around the edge of the warzone. A cursor is used to scroll the large window rapidly around and scan the battlefield below, and a scanner brings up a complete map of the zone -- very useful for co-ordinating split forces on a high tactical level.

Laser Squad is based around Action Points (APs), each squad marine having a set number with which to perform all Actions. Everything from turning around to loading weapons costs points; when the points run out so does the marine's turn. The enemy forces then begin their hidden movement, firing at any marines they meet.

Movement is achieved by rotating and moving forward while combat involves three types of weapon fire (Snap, Auto and Aim), resulting in spectacular shoot-outs. The marines can accomplish a satisfyingly large number of other tasks, including extensive handling of weapons and objects, manipulation of doors and bomb priming. Morale, stamina, constitution, encumbrance levels and weapons/unarmed skills all play a strong part in the actions of each marine.

The game is over when either side reaches 100 Victory points (achieved by eliminating enemy guards, selected targets and by completing the mission).

Laser Squad may look easy enough with a lot fewer commands and parameters than SSI games, but the odds are definitely against the marines right from the start. With four skill levels and three different scenarios, the game challenge increases to above average at a very smooth rate indeed.

One of Laser Squad's strengths is its expansion on the ideas of hidden movement. As marines can only see enemies within a 90 field of view, it's all too easy for an enemy robot to sneak up behind someone and take them out unless another marine guards their flank. With hidden movement the player doesn't know for sure what lies round the next corner, and moving into a long corridor can be a kill zone if a sniper is waiting with opportunity fire selected.

The tension that builds up is very strong indeed, forming a major part of the game's atmosphere with the impressive combat graphics adding to the game's surprisingly fast pace. The graphics are a neat bonus, having detail and clarity despite the lack of shading. Helped considerably by this arcade-style look, the game is extremely user-friendly, allowing a novice to get into the game with very little delay.

 

The great thing about Laser Squad is that you really do feel part of the team and want to use each marine's unique advantages and weapons to the full. In the long term, the game may not be as strong or complex as your average SSI wargame but it's certainly the more entertaining to play.

a m i g a

An Amiga version is planned for September from Blade (19.95) with five built-in scenarios.

u p d a t e

ORDER HQ'S
Laser Squad: Blade Software, Brooklands, New Road, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE17 4BG.
Expansion Tape One: Target Games, 19 The Rows, The High, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1BZ.

   


Presentation 90%

A very easy to understand, very slick menu-driven command system, very good graphics (for a wargame), very clear screen layout, atmospheric sound effects and an informative manual.

Challenge 74%
The challenge doesn't rise to formidable heights but four skill levels and a wealth of weaponry to utilise gives the player plenty to do.

Authenticity 79%
A great futuristic atmosphere about it although it lacks somewhat in complexity.

Overall 83%
An absorbing and very fresh approach to man-to-man combat in the future, and a lot better than Breach.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (2 Mar 2010)
Only the first of above screenshots existed in the original review.

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