Shock Tactics – The New Sci-Fi Strategy Game
Shock Tactics, the new title released by Point Black, is a single player strategic turn-based science fiction based combat game including elements of exploration, squad management and base building. It is similar is style to XCOM, the Final Fantasy Tactics series, and even reminded me of the table-top RPG version of Dungeons & Dragons.
“Your team are the trailblazers for the first wave of Free Space Pioneers exploring a newly discovered alien planet. While searching the hostile world for alien technology you lead your team into tactical combat against pirates, alien creatures and the troops of the Imperial Consortium. Set up outposts and dig sites to exploit the secrets that this new world holds, in order stand against the incoming invasion. Everything is out there for the taking, but nothing will come free.”
During combat, cover and hit percentages seemed to be the most important aspects – at least that was what governed most of my decisions. While the mechanics for moving your team around the map were straight forward, the camera angles and environment textures made it difficult to spot enemies that were in the open, find and optimism the use of cover, and simply navigate the battlefield from one area of battle to the next. The AI seemed to have the advantage since at times I simply could not figure out where I was supposed to go or what tactical options were at my disposal while the enemy found positions I didn’t know we’re possible. Despite this, I did enjoy the skirmishes and did get better the more I played. Future updates may address some of the issues, and I look forward to seeing what the soon to be released patch will address.
Shock Tactics boasts other elements besides just standard fire fights. These elements include base-building which can be raided by enemies and structure selection and positioning are key. I noticed that the Power Generator seems to be the favorite target, so defend it well. There are also bosses which add a higher level of difficulty to any encounter. Exploration of the procedurally generated planet also gives players something to do then simply fight one battle after another and may add some replay value since each new game will have a unique world. The game also allows players to customize the name and look of squad members, advance their abilities and skills and choose various weapons.
Shock Tactics: Pros and Cons
- The game mechanics are easy to pick up with the help of the tutorial.
- Graphics were decent but seemed a little dated.
- Exploration adds more depth to the game.
- The storyline seems interesting.
- The countdown of days before the arrival of the Imperial Consortium adds a sense of urgency from the very beginning.
- While there are various classes for squad members, all can be used in a similar fashion. Weapons should be class restricted and classes should include more class ability that are unique to the class.
- Combat mechanics need some refinement.
- Allies do not perform well in combat. Their AI is lacking compared to enemies.
- A multiplayer option would be perfect for this game but isn’t an option.
While the game isn’t perfect, it is fun. I loaded up the game initially just to look at the intro and play for a few minutes, but ended up playing for an hour. I usually play fast pace first person shooters but it was a nice change to slow it down a bit and enjoy the turn-based strategic fights. The issues I mentioned will most likely be addressed by future updates, so I do recommend this game.