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DarkKoala
20:11:46 Tue
Jan 8 2008

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WH40K: Command Squad for DS Review

So I got Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command for the DS a week ago, and Iím about a third of the way through the game. Since there seemed to be some interest in this a while back (before release), and no one else has posted about it, I thought Iíd write a little description/review for anyone who may be interested.

The game is like playing Kill Team in 40K, although it is most definitely NOT just a direct translation of 40K into video game format. You have six slots for your team of Space Marines to take with you on linked missions in a campaign. The slots are pre-determined by the mission. For example, your first mission, you get six scouts. The next mission, you get 4 scouts and 2 marines. Each unit has a number of Action Points (AP) which determines what they can do during your turn. Moving 1 ďspaceĒ will use up one action point, firing a weapon will take a certain number (depending on the weapon, bolters are 4, for example), and different unit types have different base AP (scouts have 26, marines have 28, etc.). Very much like the old Chaos Gate game. Although you donít get to pick what units you bring with you, you do get to pick their weapons. Everyone is armed with a primary weapon (usually a bolter) which has unlimited ammo, and may choose a secondary weapon which will have limited ammo. Taking a secondary weapon has a cost, though: it will lower your base AP, so you will not be able to do as much with that unit each turn. You can also take extra ammo, but it will further lower your base AP. More weapons are unlocked as you complete missions, and they are unlocked on a per unit basis. For example, I have unlocked the Missile Launcher for Scouts, but not for regular Marines.

Controls are really nice and easy and intuitive (with one exception below). Each button has one function, and they are the same for all units. No searching through menus or having to switch your controls around to find what you want. The directional pad moves the cursor, one button to act, another to switch between moving and firing (although this will switch automatically if you move the cursor over an enemy), the L and R buttons cycle through units, etc. If you have the DS version, the stylus can be used, but is the one major beef I have with the game. Stylus control feels really tacked-on and unpolished. I was constantly picking multiple units when I only wanted one and ended up wasting a lot of AP, there is no stylus control instructions in the booklet so you have no idea how to do certain things like switch between move and shoot without a certain amount of trial and error. I found it very difficult and not intuitive, which is not what you expect from using the stylus.

Squad Command is a very tactical game. You need to think about what you are doing, how you are using your AP, where your units are and what they are armed with, etc. all the time. The game is difficult enough that, if you donít, you wonít get very far. Cover is everything. Hiding in a ruined building and shooting out makes you really hard to hit from medium range or longer (distance seems to affect accuracy), and nearly invulnerable if you remember to crouch down at the end of your movement. But one cool thing about the maps is that every piece of terrain is destructible. So, if you have a marine hiding behind a wall, he may not be as safe as you think if the enemy has a Missile Launcher you didnít see. They have brought in the Overwatch rule from 2nd edition in as well. If your unit has enough AP left to fire his currently selected weapon during the enemyís turn, he will fire if an enemy come close. The enemy makes frequent use of overwatch, but their lines of fire are highlighted, and clever use of your units means you should almost never take overwatch fire.

Missions are objective based. Objectives are usually fairly simple, things like kill all enemies, destroy target building(s), kill enemy leaders(s), etc. The enemies in the campaign are Word Bearers. You start off fighting cultists, and then they add CSMís and eventually Predator Tanks. I havenít seen what else you fight, but the enemies are getting harder. The Hit Points of an average CSM seem to have increased over the last few missions, and they are armed with better weapons. I havenít had a chance to play multiplayer yet.

If you are looking for good translation of 40K directly to video, this isnít the game for you. Besides the AP system making it different, the weapons do not always relate to their 40K equivalents. So far, Iíve seen the following weapons in action: bolter, combat shotgun, plasma gun, chainsword, sniper rifle, missile launcher, lascannon, autocannon (on a Predator Tank), and twin-linked heavy bolters (also on a Predator). So far, the plasma gun wins out as my weapon of choice, and will serve to illustrate some of the differences between videogame and tabletop nicely. The plasma gun does more damage than a lascannon, has a blast radius, and the lascannon canít hit the broad side of a barn from the inside. Seriously, I have literally missed a BUILDING firing this thing. The only advantage the lascannon has over the plasma gun is that it cost less AP to fire. This makes the 2 guns very different from their tabletop equivalents. The autocannon is also very different. It does almost 3 times the damage of the lascannon, and has a huge blast radius. When you have a predator tank, it plays more like a Leman Russ than anything. Sniper Rifle, Bolters, Heavy Bolters and Missile Launcher behave pretty much as you would think they should. Combat Shotguns hit everything inside of their range and field of fire, dealing 4 times the damage of a bolter. I imagine flamers will work similarly if they were included. Chainswords are on par with that damage, but to a single target. The tactical viability of this weapon is limited though. Every time I have actively tried to use it, the marine in question gets hosed down afterwards by enemy fire. The good news is it doesnít take up any AP to equip and no more than a bolter to swing.

So, what do I think of it? Well, here are some Pros and Cons

Pros: Easy (except stylus) controls, good graphics, simple but very tactical game play, good variety of weapons (20+, but I havenít unlocked them all yet), excellent use of the WH40K universe, enemy AI is intelligent and challenging but not overwhelmingly so (doesnít feel like the computer is cheating)

Cons: stylus controls are bad, weapons sometimes donít perform as expected, you donít get to pick your units,

Overall, Iíd give it an 8 out of 10 (although if you want a faithful recreation of WH40K, drop this by a few points). An excellent game, and I would have to say high on the to buy list if you have a DS or PSP.



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FarseerBill
20:37:16 Tue
Jan 8 2008

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Re: WH40K: Command Squad for DS Review

Thanks for the review!

ADMIN: Moved to computer gaming and console sub-forum. :smile:



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"I know i know i am french but i cant understands GW codex in french its all chinese to me ."
 
 
DarkKoala
21:43:18 Tue
Jan 8 2008

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Re: WH40K: Command Squad for DS Review

Whoops, forgot this forum was here. Sorry about that.



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Toronto Areas source for Warmachine and Shadowrun news and events.
 
 

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