Laser Squad Nemesis
- The Game
In the beginning...
Before I get into Laser Squad Nemesis, I'd thought it wise to tell about the background of this game. It all began in 1984, with the game Rebelstar Raiders - for the Sinclair Spectrum, which itself gave an inspiration to 1988s Laser Squad.
Yes that's nice, but do these have any relation to LaserSquad Nemesis? Indeed. A couple of brothers - Julian and Nick Gollop - who've created 14 games in 20 years. Not alone, mind. They did have help from their colleagues of course. But back to the main thread; They were responsible for those two games, and kept on developing new and innovative titles. Their biggest breakthrough came with the very popular game called X-Com: UFO Enemy Unknown for the PC - which was a tactical turn-based game which is based on the idea of a company who fought for the protection of Earth against an alien invation.
The sequal to UFO was X-Com: Terror From The Deep which took the game into the open seas. This game was shortly followed by X-Com: Apocalypse, which allowed the player to play in real-time, although plan his/hers actions almost as if it was turn based.
They changed publishers quite often, ranging from MicroProse, Hasbro Interactive and Infogrames. However these changes wasn't helping the future for the Gollop brothers, so they started their own company; Codo Technologies. And this move spawned the production of LaserSquad Nemesis
Ironically, Spawn are one of the three races found in the game. Along with Marines and Machina. The story of the game is quite briefly that the humans had learned to live in peace and harmony for many generations, even milennia - and all knowledge of weapons and destruction was lost in the past. Of course no world is perfect, and the Spawn showed their "interest" in human areas - or preferably meat.
Instead of sending out humans to sacrifice themselves against the Spawn, they created machines to do the fighting for them. These machines were capable of reproducing and fight all without the help of humans. These did however, turn on the humans, and became an enemy as well as the Spawn. So that's the very basic story. The official site for the game has a much wider story. Soon a fourth race will be introduced, with a look of the first aliens you meet in UFO: Enemy Unknown.
So what is LaserSquad Nemesis?
Nemesis is an isometrically-viewed, semi-turn-based tactical strategy game played by e-mail (hotseat mode also avaliable). Quite an elaborate description, but very accurate. It is not a single player game, it only allows for human players to play each other - which in turns makes sure that each game experience is unique.
Codo are the developers behind the game, and they still develop it, with close relations to the players of the games community - which is quite large and very friendly. The game is not sold as a retail, but downloaded (size: approx. 12MB) from the Internet either as a demo, or full version - depending on if you're a subscribed to the game or not. As a subscriber, you get access to all the 50+ (and expanding) maps created by the developers or one of the subscribers using the accompanied map editor. The prices range from $7 for a month of full access, to $40 for a whole years worth of playing time. And there is no limit of how many games you can play - other than your own time. As long as you're a subscriber, you get access to all updates of the game in the future. Non-subscribers can only play by being challenged from subscribers, or try three free games which they play against Field Instructors - dedicated players who help Codo Tech. to gain more subscribers. Non-subscribers are also limited to play the Marines only, and three maps.
Unlike the previous games from these developers; this is not a turn based game per se. Its principals are very simple, however not always easiest to explain. Each turn is sent and received through the use of e-mail, so you're allowed to choose when you're gonna play it, and plan your turn quite neatly before sending it away. However, each turn is planned 10 seconds at a time, which narrows your movement, shooting, aiming or healing time to that time frame.
In effect: A Marine Grenadier has an aiming time of 2 seconds before the grenade is launched. If you issue a firing order, then he only has 8 second left of that turn to do anything. If the fire order is issued at the 9th second of the turn, then he won't be able to fire a shot, as the turn only lasts for 1 more second.
There are also other aspects which affects your units. Orders like 'Opportunity Fire', 'Halt on Sight', 'Flee on Sight', 'Fire at Will' and more are the basics for a very wide game experience, and opens up to many tactical choices. As many other games, there is also an ammunition issue, which can be remedied with an HQ. But the units will have to reach the HQ, and also have time to replenish their ammo. The HQ is the only thing which is immovable, and is a very easy target - as it is very big.
The client is a graphical interface with simple 2D graphics, but this really fades away when the gameplay is experienced. It really is very suitable for this game, and it's quick to load or close. It can also be played in window mode, for quick minimize during working hours (but that's hush-hush to my boss).
When you've made some orders you're also able to test your orders, but the visible enemy units will remains still and not fire back - as this is only a test-run. If you're satisfied with your orders, you just hid the 'End turn' button, and can accompany a little message to your foe. The client sends the email by itself, or you can do it manually if you need to pass a firewall of some sort.
At the first step of a game you choose one of the three existing factions. The Spawn, Marine or Machina. Which you choose to play makes a huge difference to the game, and is highly influenced by the map layout and what tactic you intend to play. Bear in mind that what the opponent chooses can be really devestated if you're not prepared for it. However, sometimes it can turn out quite well afterall.
Wrapping it up
In general, the game is highly advanced, and the server prohibits any form of cheating. No matter how you may clutter with the client, the server makes sure that the impossible doesn't happen. It's the perfect game for e-mail, and makes you wonder what e-mail was used for in the past except for LaserSquad Nemesis and Spam. It's fun, highly advanced, always under development and improvement and highly highly addictive. It's eating a lot of my time, so I felt it necessary to write about it.