Brits with American accents meet a bunch of silly looking aliens
In the Mission Control Room of your base, once you have set-up all your teams to research and engineer to their hearts content, you must scan for alien activity on a fancy holographic globe. This is the turn-based side to the strategical element. Once you start scanning, the boys and girls in your workforce start the tasks for you. It could take days to complete a new laboratory, for example, so you have to be careful that you’ve not spent all your resources, because anything could pop up on that globe. Then, up pops the shadow-masked Fat Controller of your operations: “Some alien stuff is going down, yo!”
More strategy here. Funding can be reduced if a certain country is in panic, so naturally you must choose to help them. But then, another country may be able to give you a new soldier class. Decisions, brain-pulping decisions, but a few of the choices you have to make.
And the ultimate showdown arrives. What I liked about this part is the randomness. I discovered, after a particularly bad mission prior to a save-game reload, that the same mission didn’t come up. Anything could happen. And all the operations, I should call them, have specific names—Operation Swift Fist, was a particular favourite—giving the game a real-world feel.
The missions are turn-based on an isometric 3D perspective map. Your squad consists of about four soldiers at first, but you can increase that with research. You have to move from cover to cover, which can vary from partial to full, and tactically out-flank and destroy your opponent by using a variety of special manoeuvres. Each soldier has a set area to move, and a maximum of two moves, depending on what you do. Quite a fun adornment to the missions are the random cutscenes that come alongside a well-played manoeuvre. Like a soldier getting his own back on his aggressor after being shot at in their turn. Blam…splat. Tactics are a must, because once a member of your team dies, they stay dead. No ‘1UP’ for you, Joe Corporal.
By far my favourite aspect is the customisation of each soldier. After each successful mission, depending on what a particular soldier did, they may earn a promotion and subsequent upgrades and special abilities. The soldiers are generated randomly, and upgrade to specialise in a particular class—sniper, support, assault—and you can customise their look to your own specific preferences, but I never did. It makes it so much more fun if new recruits remain the way they were born…I realise that sounds insane, but I’ve spent a lot of time with these guys. My team became so precious to me. Heavy arms specialist, Lieutenant Raul Garcia has been with me since my first disastrous mission. He was the only one to come back, and he’s staying alive from now on. The game becomes such a personal experience for you that you want to carry on, despite the rubbish accents, poor story line and slightly skewed lip-synching, if only for the sake of your team. And if your favourite grunt is pinned down by gunfire…then who are you going to sacrifice?