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