Laser Squad Nemesis (PC) Laser Squad Nemesis is a turn-based, real-time, e-mail strategy game. That's a genre isn't it?
By - Mark H. Walker
Take E-mail X-Com, throw it in a blender with Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, mix thoroughly, and pour onto your hard drive. What that you'll get is Laser Squad Nemesis. Designed and coded by the same team that brought gamers the original X-Com, Laser Squad Nemesis is a play by e-mail only, turn-based-order-real-time-execution game of man-to-man combat in the far future. It's an ambitious yet flawed undertaking, far more complex than E-mail X-Com, but not quite ready for prime time.
The game boasts three races -- Laser Marines, Warbots, and Spawn -- but only two of them, the Laser Marines and Warbots, are currently in the game. It's a simple story, yet one that Codo Games (Laser Squad Nemesis' developer) hopes to develop into an interactive universe. In the not too near future, the ever-expanding human race runs headlong into the Spawn. These hive-oriented critters have an appetite for humans that makes Roseanne Barr's sweet tooth look like a passing hunger pang. Enter the Laser Marines. Bad men armed with lasers, grenade launchers, and other weapons of futuristic destruction, the Laser Marines put a serious dent in the Spawn population. Unfortunately, the Spawn take their own bite out of the Marines. Earth grows tired of the casualties and develops the semi-sentient mechanized Warbots to bear the brunt of the battle.
The 'Bots mature, develop a conscience, and then turn against the human race. So what began as a battle against the Spawn explodes into a geurre à trois. It is against this background that you game.
The gaming is straightforward. Head over to http://lasersquadnemesis.com, pay 15 bucks for a subscription, and download the software. Once installed, you fire it up, type in an opponent's e-mail and start a game. Your adversary doesn't need to have a subscription to play, but non-subscribing players may only game if a subscriber invites them. No friends? No problem. The Laser Squad Nemesis server will fond an opponent for you.
Each game pits squads of Warbots and Marines against each other. You may choose your squad from several available units, and then deploy them on the map. The Warbots and Marines are radically different. The Laser Marines have several different infantry types, from snipers to grenadiers, and although the Warbots have robot-like infantry, their strong suit is tank-like missile and laser units. Orders are issued in standard turn-based fashion. Much like in Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, there are a multitude of possible commands. For example, you may tell a unit pause, move to a location, pause again, and fire on an enemy unit. Unlike Combat Mission, Laser Squad Nemesis includes a "Test Orders" button that allows gamers to see how their orders will play out. Of course the button doesn't account for enemy actions so nothing ever happens according to plan.
Once both players have issued/e-mailed orders, the turn plays out in 10 seconds of real-time combat. Without doubt, this is the coolest part of the game. Laser Marines duck into an ally only to find an enemy tank spitting laser bolts at them, Warbot Missile tanks demolish buildings, revealing the Marines hiding inside to another "Bot's lasers. It's exciting stuff, and not bad looking either.
Laser Squad Nemesis uses a 3D accelerated engine that allows the gamer to easily zoom in or pull back from the battlefield. The combat looks pretty darn good at a medium zoom. Lasers flash, grenades explode in puffs of smoke, and large Warbots explode in balls of flame. Continue the zoom, however, and it all looks a bit blocky. Bottom line, the graphics aren't bad, but neither will they win any awards.