|System: DS, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Game's Workshop||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 17, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
To my immense satisfaction, portable gaming systems seem to have always been an absolute hotbed for really great strategy games. Ranging all over the map from titles like Fire Emblem to Final Fantasy Tactics to Super Robot Taisen, our portable gaming systems seem always to be there to provide us with a shot of addictive strategy action. Now we portable gamers get another title to sate our desire for strategy games, and it's called Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command on the Nintendo DS.
As made indicative by the game's title, Squad Command is all about taking control of a group of units -- you can have no more than six at one time -- and fighting through a variety of missions. Like most strategy games, you're given plenty of opportunities to prepare for the coming fight: you can check out the terrain, survey your foes, and equip necessary weapons and armor on your units.
With that over, the battle actually begins. Again, there's nothing all that new here; if you have ever played any sort of strategy game, you have a very good idea of exactly how Squad Command is going to play out on the battlefield. It's presentation is very similar to that of Final Fantasy Tactics games: there's a 3D isometric view of the battlefield with a cursor that's present in just about every single strategy title ever created.
Squad Command does implement a pretty cool way of actually getting stuff done on the battlefield, however: you have a certain amount of points for each unit, each turn. Every type of action you perform uses up some set amount of these points. Part of the strategy in this game, therefore, lies not only in figuring out how to win the battle (a macro approach), but also how to best consume each unit's action points to make the most of each and every turn (a more micro approach).
The positioning of your units also plays an interesting role in Squad Command. In many strategy games I've played, attacks can only be pulled off within a few spaces of a unit. Some games, like Final Fantasy Tactics, give you a bonus in accuracy for attacking from behind. Well, in Squad Command, you can gain an accuracy bonus for attacking a unit that's directly in your line of sight. If you've just got to defeat a certain enemy and your accuracy is startlingly low, however, you can use your action points to actually boost your chance of hitting the enemy.
You may have heard about problems with Squad Command that result from the lack of a grid, and I'm sorry to say that they're actually pretty significant. See, your cursor can go anywhere -- there's no invisible grid that guides it along. It can get pretty awkward just to control your units -- always a bad thing in any strategy game. The lack of a grid becomes even more problematic thanks to the gameplay implementation detailed above: it's hard to base attacks around the "line of sight" idea when it's sometimes hard to tell if you actually are in a straight line from the enemy.