Tack­ling Mode 7’s fu­ture-sports strat­egy game


Mode 7’s Frozen End­zone is not a sports game in the sense that Mad­den or FIFA fans would recog­nise. Yes, it has a ball, ro­bots in chunky shoul­der pads, and teams in pri­mary neon hues. End­zones even. But its Amer­i­can-foot­ball-meets- Speed­ball looks are de­ceiv­ing: this is ev­ery yard the in­tensely tac­ti­cal game of de­cep­tion and fake­outs that Frozen Synapse was. You never take di­rect con­trol of a player in the thick of the ac­tion. In­stead you oc­cupy the role of allpow­er­ful coach, plan­ning the moves for your team of ro­botic pawns to be played out in short, si­mul­ta­ne­ously en­acted phases.

As such, it has some­thing of a per­cep­tion prob­lem. The game’s open beta went live in De­cem­ber, and since then lead de­signer Ian Hard­ing­ham has re­ceived a lot of feed­back from non-play­ers who “worry that it’s an Amer­i­can foot­ball game, and they don’t know any­thing about Amer­i­can foot­ball, or they don’t like real-world sports. That’s some­thing that we’re still look­ing at ad­dress­ing, be­cause it’s not a real-life sports game and it’s got noth­ing to [do with] Amer­i­can foot­ball.”

Which in­vites the ques­tion: why make a fol­low-up to the gun­play skir­mishes of Frozen Synapse a sports game at all? Co-man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Paul Tay­lor ex­plains it’s a nat­u­ral re­sult of Mode 7’s goals. “Ef­fec­tively, we wanted to make a game that took some of the el­e­ments of Frozen Synapse, par­tic­u­larly the ter­ri­to­rial phys­i­cal el­e­ment of the game, mak­ing it much more about read­ing the map. The sports thing kind of came out of that.”

The first months of this year-long beta present only a core sam­ple of the fi­nal game, of course. Even so, asyn­chro­nous End­zone matches with other hu­mans are sur­pris­ingly fully formed area-con­trol tus­sles, which play

The cam­era adds plenty of drama to the en­act­ment of your plans. Mode 7 also wants to let play­ers put to­gether high­light reels of matches to share on­line.

Right now, sta­di­ums are a bit bland, but you’ll be able to cus­tomise your home turf later

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