Laser Squad Nemesis Review

If you’ve been playing strategy games for some time, you probably remember X-COM: UFO Defense. It was a turn-based tactical strategy game that put you in charge of Earth’s defenses against invading aliens. It was the first game of its kind and provided challenging gameplay, so it was a hit with strategy gamers at the time and planted itself in their memories. The team responsible for that game has now returned years later to bring us Laser Squad Nemesis, another turn-based, tactical strategy game. However, not a lot has changed for the team over the years and Nemesis is not a modern reworking of X-COM, but rather a game inspired by X-COM’s battle component. Nemesis features an improved interface over its predecessor, but the graphics, presentation, and overall gameplay are decidedly old fashioned.

Screenshots
Marines on the attack.

Nemesis features four different races to battle each other. The Marines are the human faction and feature battle armor clad warriors armed with laser weapons. The Greys are the alien race of human abducting and probing fame and bring powers of mind control to the battlefield. The Machina are robotic machines that can pack a powerful offensive punch. Lastly, the Spawn are swarming insectoids ala StarCraft’s Zerg. The races are well-balanced and each lends itself to a different strategy and style of play.

The game’s single player component features a campaign for each, but these are essentially a series of missions introduced by a paragraph or two of text to provide a minimalist story. Each mission opens with a deployment phase in which you spend points from your allotted total to purchase units and place them within your starting area on the map. Of course more powerful units cost more points and so you’ll need to make a quality versus quantity decision during deployment. The decision isn’t too hard to make, though, as each side only has six different unit types available. There is no research in the game and so no tech tree, so what you see at the beginning of the first mission is what you’ll get before every mission.

Once your units are deployed the mission begins. Play is turn-based, but the action is carried out in real time. This accomplished by dividing your turn into orders and execution phases. During the orders phase you can give any or all of your units their orders for the upcoming execution phase. This can be any combination of movement and fire orders as well as setting orders of engagement to do things like take all opportunities to fire at the enemy or to run if an enemy is encountered. The execution phase will take place over 10 seconds of real time, so the number of orders that you can issue depends on what the unit can carry out subject to this time constraint.