Frozen Synapse 2

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

Tak­ing con­trol of a se­cu­rity force tasked with elim­i­nat­ing a sen­tient AI, Frozen Synapse 2 sees you bat­tle your way through iso­met­ric maps, while plan­ning, test­ing and rou­tinely re­work­ing your com­bat strategy. Af­ter de­ploy­ing your troops, you is­sue a series of in­tri­cate com­mands to each in­di­vid­ual sol­dier, giv­ing them or­ders to move into po­si­tion, shoot at or ig­nore en­e­mies, or duck for cover. These de­light­fully tac­ti­cal turn­based en­coun­ters take place in in­cre­ments of five sec­onds, mean­ing that acute at­ten­tion to de­tail and metic­u­lous ex­e­cu­tion is the or­der of the day.

For­tu­nately, you’re granted the gift of fore­sight for con­coct­ing your seg­mented plan of at­tack: you can is­sue endless or­ders to your units and watch the re­sult­ing sce­nar­ios with­out hav­ing to com­mit un­til you’re sat­is­fied with the out­come. When you’re done day­dream­ing about how use­ful that func­tion would be in real life, you can use it to save hap­less sol­diers who’ve un­wit­tingly fallen foul to a hail of en­emy gun­fire, or get your sol­diers into po­si­tion to pull off the per­fect shot. As long as you re­main un­de­tected, you can even see en­emy move­ments; open fire or get spot­ted, how­ever, and the op­po­si­tion’s ma­noeu­vres are re­duced to ed­u­cated guess­work in­volv­ing trial and er­ror tac­tics.

Each sol­dier spe­cialises in a par­tic­u­lar weapon, the type of ar­tillery on hand hav­ing a vast im­pact on how you ap­proach the sit­u­a­tion at hand. Shot­guns have the ben­e­fit of added ac­cu­racy, but lack the range of SMGS, while knives of­fer a stealth­ier ap­proach and grenade launch­ers can be used to take down walls and cre­ate new paths to the op­po­si­tion.

While this sec­ond in­stal­ment does lit­tle to evolve the game­play ideas es­tab­lished in the 2011 orig­i­nal, the ex­cel­lent com­bat and tac­ti­cal depth, backed up by a crisp in­ter­face and some se­ri­ously stylised graph­ics, keep the for­mula feel­ing fresh through­out the newly added sin­gle-player cam­paign. Set in Markov Geist, a cy­ber­punk city run by an in­trigu­ing bunch of ri­val or­gan­i­sa­tions and plagued by ter­ror­ist group Sonata, the nar­ra­tive, while not overly in­vest­ing, does of­fer a sense of pur­pose and added depth to the world.

When you tire of bat­tling armies of AI op­po­nents, there’s also a ro­bust mul­ti­player on of­fer to test your tac­tics against other pay­ers. The un­pre­dictabil­ity of hu­man op­po­nents makes for vastly more thrilling and mem­o­rable en­coun­ters com­pared to playing alone. A va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent modes greatly ex­tends the game’s life­span, in­clud­ing ‘One Turn’, a mode in which you must com­plete the ob­jec­tive in a sin­gle round to achieve vic­tory.

More ca­sual strategy en­thu­si­asts may be put off by Frozen Synapse 2’s over­whelm­ingly con­sid­ered ap­proach to con­flict, but the game’s slow pace and sec­ond-by-sec­ond ex­e­cu­tion of the per­fect strategy can make for a thrillingly tense ex­pe­ri­ence that’s far more sat­is­fy­ing than sim­ply mind­lessly mow­ing down wave af­ter wave of en­e­mies.

above: The neon red and green of the op­pos­ing forces against the dark back­drop sees shootouts im­bued with an un­em­bel­lished, yet un­de­ni­ably slick and dis­tinc­tive, vis­ual style, backed up by a eu­phoric sound­track that per­fectly fits the game’s fu­tur­is­tic de­sign.

above: When not deal­ing with a Sonata in­cur­sion, you can take on var­i­ous con­tracts. These in­clude tasks such as set­ting up check­points, de­liv­er­ing items and in­fil­trat­ing build­ings. The funds from these al­low you to pur­chase new units to ex­pand the might of your mil­i­tary force.

Xcom: en­emy un­known

Frozen synapse

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