Frozen Sy­napse 2

It’s al­ways worth dou­ble-check­ing in Frozen Sy­napse 2.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Chris Bratt

The ac­tion in Frozen Sy­napse 2 plays out in per­fect five-sec­ond bursts, as sol­diers carry out or­ders with pre­ci­sion. It’s great to watch. Your team might breach a room from mul­ti­ple en­trances at once, or duck be­hind cover just as a grenade ex­plodes on the other side. It’s flaw­less and meant to be en­joyed, be­cause these mo­ments take plenty of plan­ning on your part. Like its pre­de­ces­sor, this is a game fu­elled by in­tense sim­u­la­tion. You may not know what your op­po­nent plans to do next, but you can run tests un­til you have a pretty firm idea.

Let’s say you find your­self con­trol­ling a soldier armed with an as­sault ri­fle fac­ing an en­emy unit hold­ing a shot­gun. Be­tween these units lies some ba­sic cover. Should you tell your soldier to stand their ground and take a shot, or move to the cover and open fire? Which is safer? What hap­pens in ei­ther case? Un­like most turn-based tac­ti­cal games, in Frozen Sy­napse 2, you don’t need to guess.

In­stead, you run a test sce­nario for each de­ci­sion. This means not only sim­u­lat­ing your soldier’s ac­tions for the next five sec­onds, but also those of your op­po­nent. You can con­firm what will hap­pen if both units hold their ground, or what hap­pens if one, or both, of them run for cover in­stead.

Know Thy En­emy

Af­ter col­lect­ing this in­for­ma­tion you’ll want to see if you can give your soldier an or­der that has them win re­gard­less of what your en­emy does. The ques­tion changes from, ‘What should I do next?’ to, ‘What do I think the en­emy is go­ing to do next, and how do I counter it?’

In sin­gle­player, this of­ten comes down to logic. The AI is chal­leng­ing, but I rarely found it sur­pris­ing. Its re­sponse to player ac­tion is usu­ally an ag­gres­sive one, al­though it tends to avoid most un­nec­es­sary risks. This makes it rea­son­ably pre­dictable, al­though in most cases that’s coun­tered by the fact that it’ll bring a lot more fire­power to the bat­tle­field.

How­ever, play­ing against other hu­man be­ings can be any­thing but pre­dictable. This is where the game truly grabbed me. I’m re­minded of why I don’t en­joy play­ing chess against AI, but love play­ing in per­son: The best move is of­ten the one that sur­prises your op­po­nent the most.

If you think back to the ex­am­ple sce­nario with the sol­diers fac­ing each other, things change when an­other player is added to the mix. It prompts a third, vi­tally im­por­tant ques­tion: ‘What do they think I’m go­ing to do next, and how can I take ad­van­tage of that as­sump­tion?’ It’s these ques­tions that made the orig­i­nal Frozen Sy­napse such a de­light to play, and they’re still just as en­tic­ing in its se­quel. The ma­jor dif­fer­ence here is that there’s a much big­ger play­ground for them.

The cam­paign fea­tures a pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated city for the player to scheme and fight over along­side sev­eral other fac­tions. Each of these groups has a dif­fer­ent agenda, which sees them clash­ing at times, al­though all of them are equally in­ter­ested in the ‘relics’ you’ve been col­lect­ing as you de­fend the city from an in­vad­ing force.

There’s so much room for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion here. Do you want to main­tain a good re­la­tion­ship with the more pow­er­ful fac­tion? You don’t have to. From the very start, you can choose to at­tack any build­ing in the city, no mat­ter who owns it. If your at­tack is a suc­cess­ful one, you can then steal what­ever was stored there. Be warned, though: Other groups may choose to do the same to you.

Art Of Wa r

Each of these struc­tures is it­self a unique map, and the forces you’ll en­counter will de­pend on what squads have been housed there by the other fac­tions. Squads move around in be­tween fights and have their own op­er­a­tions to com­plete. Al­though it was the mul­ti­player that I was drawn to, if you en­joyed the cam­paign from the orig­i­nal, there’s a lot more go­ing on this time around.

Frozen Sy­napse 2 is not a game of chance. Luck isn’t meant to be much of a fac­tor. It’s about run­ning the same sim­u­la­tions your op­po­nent is run­ning and then try­ing to get in­side their head and fig­ure out what they’ll do with that in­for­ma­tion. Just like in chess, it’s about see­ing a good move and then look­ing for a bet­ter one.

The best move is of­ten the one that sur­prises your op­po­nent the most

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