With sequels to hit games are almost always there is one significant problem. On the one hand, it is impossible to break something that already works fine. On the other – you need to come up with something new. Well, when it is purely a story thing – you can get off with a new story and cosmetic changes. Harder when it’s a tactical strategy like Frozen Synapse. Thank God, the British from Mode 7 Games, this problem is elegantly solved in the sequel avoided the “second album syndrome”.
According to external attributes and basic mechanics, the first Frozen Synapse, released in 2011, looked very simple. Visually, the game resembled some kind of schematic special forces simulator: the men on the screen shoot each other surrounded by lines, rectangles and other illuminated neon geometric shapes, indicating Windows, doors, corridors and shelters.
And at the same time, the authors deliberately avoided many “crutches”, familiar to the classics of the tactical genre, — calculating the percentage of hits, points of progress, fuss with inventory, eternal dilemmas, how to fit five first-aid kits, a heavy machine gun and seven boxes of ammunition, and so on and so forth.
But this minimalism was hiding as pure as possible, distilled tactic, which is impersonal, devoid of options, tools and emotions of the fighters showed something in the best moments of the game could be the envy of even the professional forces of some “alpha»
Five seconds, five seconds… that’s a lot!
Although, of course, it all depended on the player. At his disposal were not points of action or move, and seconds. During the planning phase it was determined that each fighter will do in the next five seconds, for example, in three runs back and then, at the fourth sit down, take a bead on the passage to that door, and on the fifth check box to the right. You can still order to move quickly from one point to another, ignoring the enemies, so as not to waste time on aiming, or, conversely, to take focus on a particular enemy or a specific area. As the enemy will arrive, you thus don’t know — he at the same time with you also distributes orders to the subordinates. Plan can be first test, and then give lights out and in active phase with horror or glee look, which of you released tactician.
In such a situation, it is important to plan your actions correctly and predict the movements of opponents, based on the architecture of the level and location of allies and enemies. It is also important to aim the zone, work in pairs, so that one covered the other, to go from the flank and the rear. This scheme with simultaneous planning is ideal for multiplayer, and the whole genre gave a new impetus.
Yes, the authors clearly spied it in Laser Squad Nemesis, but made it more modern, easy, concise and focused on pure tactics. In any case, in the future, many projects, including the modern XCOM, also relied on the dynamics and minimized the manipulation of inventory, ammunition and first-aid kits.
Out in the field with a knife
Why do I take so long to talk about the first part? Yes, because in the second in terms of tactical battles, little has changed. And here it is difficult to add something to what you have probably heard and seen in our video review. Yes, there are new classes of soldiers like a flame thrower, “shield”, winners miniguns, knives or gas grenades — they each have their roles, pros and cons, especially apparent in the case of those who only swings a melee weapon. The authors have improved the AI, added new multiplayer modes, including an extremely intriguing mode of “one move”.
From myself I can only add that the range of orders to fighters slightly expanded (now it is possible to ask “to wait”), there was an updated focus system allowing to find and entice enemies who persistently sit out behind shelters. Levels have become more and more diverse – shopping centers, cars in the Parking lot, the walls of different curvature and density, civil, flashing in front of the sight, trees, rocks…
All this, of course, makes the tactics even more diverse, flexible, makes it more interesting to use the shelter and the detection factor, increases the importance of stealth. And, accordingly, makes network battles even more addictive. Yes, in the vast spaces of the battles are slower, they take longer to move back to somewhere the enemy or, conversely, to wait for them, when do you plan to lure your under heavy fire. There was even such a function as”raise/throw the subject.” But all this does not negate the fact that the tactical battles here are extremely interesting and addictive.
Tactics in the big city
But what the game is really seriously changed, so it’s in single-player mode, which is quite undeservedly called some kind of application to multiplayer. And the first part was not only about “skirmish” and network disassembly, but also about the story, painted in neon colors cyberpunk. And now even more so.
The new campaign is framed in the form of a global strategy in which you can see the features and “Civilization”, and Total War, and the strategic mode of XCOM, but which remains unique and interesting in its own way. Here we operate in the vast cyberpunk city as the leader of one of the many competing factions, groups and corporations.
The scheme is generally clear. We hire fighters, we form groups from them and we send on different buildings of the city to carry out contracts from these or those fractions, we earn money, watching not to leave in a minus, we buy new buildings, we build diplomatic relations with other groups, asking about the Union, declaring war or offering a truce. When you get stronger, you can no longer work on the errands, and themselves to attack the possession of other factions or their scurrying on the map units.
All this is more than familiar, but for Frozen Synapse, a minimalist tactic from 2011, it is a huge, serious and very bold step that significantly expands its ambitions, audience and range of opportunities. Because in this mode it is interesting to be engaged not only in tactics, but also in global strategy.
There are many nuances. For example, in areas belonging to other factions, local police will act on their side. And to reduce its activity, you need to sign a contract with a special organization that has influence among the cops.
Another structure under the symbolic name “Dark world” is ready to lobby our interests in other groups — without it we will not be able to fully use all diplomatic opportunities. There is still contracts, which will allow to set silencers on weapons, make our machines faster (Yes-Yes, here still and transport emerged!) and so on-in fact, these are analogues of upgrades and technologies. Only they are allowed to change on the go, signing contracts with other suppliers.
Tasks also need to be performed wisely. All of them are from different factions, which often ask to attack another group, thwart the plans of competitors or protect themselves from their attack. Accordingly, the principle of “Helping one, you hurt the relationship with the other” works here on all cylinders. Especially given the fact that groups and corporations just a lot. And they are all very different, and all constantly get in touch, ask for something, explain something, warn or even threaten.
Hunt for relics
Finally, plot. It is in Frozen Synapse 2 is not a checkpoint, not the background and is not limited to training. You can, of course, turn off the story missions, getting a kind of “Free game”, but it is better not to. The plot here, though devoid of rollers, but all lovers of cyberpunk will like. In this case, we have to resist or try to build relations with the hostile group Sonata (but not Arctica), which regularly arranges the invasion in different parts of the city and attacks the buildings of different groups.
Do not have time to respond to the attack or were not ready, because the main strike team rests in the medical unit at your base, or just flunked the mission — the influence of the enemy is growing, and the affected faction accumulates resentment and cuts the budget. Most importantly, Sonata invasions are associated with some important and very valuable relics. And our task is to have time to collect 15 such relics, without giving any other group the first to accumulate seven. Therefore, when your team carries the relic to the base, it may well be attacked by units of other factions. And we’re gonna have to do that, too.
But it’s not just an artifact hunt. In the story mode, we constantly receive messages from different characters who reveal the background and the background of events, involve us in local political games, sometimes even ask for advice on how to act in certain situations. Well, a more predictable tactical AI in single-player mode is partially offset by the fact that in the story missions (or when we capture the possession of other factions) there are very unusual conditions and restrictions.
Frozen Synapse 2 really became a game more ambitious, diverse and multifaceted. One layer – it’s all the same dynamic tactical battles that came to a wider and open spaces and especially captivate in online matches. The second is a global tactical strategy about diplomacy, intrigues, political and corporate wars in a huge neon city of the future. And all this – under absolutely brilliant melodies, which together with the soundtrack from the first part today have already made the same classics of cyberpunk music as the composition of Vangelis(Vangelis) from ” blade Runner»