Line of Defense: Tactics by game studio 3000AD is an RTS game designed for mobile devises and currently ported to the PC and MAC. It is small squad combat and is a companion game to the upcoming MMO Line of Defense where you control a patrol of four Galactic Commandos (yes… another name for space marines), each with different skills, infiltrating rebel bases, basically killing everything in your way.
As a companion game, and based on the Line of Defense comic series by DC, the game doesn’t start off with any explanations but expects that you are familiar with the back story and know the world, the places and the names.
The game launch pad provides a deep database, and a link to Youtube training videos – not a tutorial – in fact you thrown in the deep end with a choice of normal and hardcore when you start the game although tool tips take you through the game functions. The game is real time but it pauses when you tap a character to bring up the action dial. Letting you swap out weapons, move to cover etc. unlike turn-based games like say XCOM (space marines… yup!) in which you can fiddle your characters with for quite a while before you end your turn, or Call of Cthulhu: Wasted Lands which are both brilliant games themselves. Like those games, Line of Defense: Tactics is not an easy game to play. There are commands to master, weapons to learn, characters to load out and enemies to kill. Many, many enemies to kill.
Each character in you squad has a specialty. Crater is your leader with well rounded skills, Mash your Medic and Pilot, Roach your scout and Thumper is the best named, being your heavy tank. His movement speed is the slowest, but positioning him at point with Mash following is pretty good general strategy. Character customization is through the weapons and kits you equip them with.
When maps load up, you get an overview and icons that show you where your objectives are. The tutorial videos take you through the game better than the game itself as a Designer explains the commands step by step through both the first and second missions. I highly recommend watching both tutorials.
I would not even try playing this game on a phone. Playing on the iPad was challenging enough – tap and drag seems to be the preferred way to bring up the actions your character can take. 3000AD calls it the command line. With it, you can access all the commands you need. The line represents the path your character will take. Cover points will light up, options like grenades will be accessible as will the “move all” command – of moving from cover, your characters will automatically use cover as they all move along. The attack dial is accessed by tapping the enemy, but your squad will also automatically return fire if fired upon. Salvage drops from dead enemies and crates. These are picked up by running a character over it and used for various things such as weapons upgrades.
There’s Campaign as well as Skirmish mode and each game you play provides xp to your characters. There are also the usual tools you bring along such as repair and medical kits. The game has pretty good voice-overs that lead you into each mission. The spare graphics allow the game to run smoothly on a larger number of devices and depending on your device, team voices might be turned off. For the iPad2, I only had “Good” quality graphics and no voices, whereas the iPad3 has “Fastest” quality graphics and team voice support.
Squad based RTS games are few and far between and this game is a solid addition to the line up. For fans of the genre, Line of Defense: Tactics will be a fun play. A try before you buy is available – players get to download and play the first 3 out of 16 missions for free.