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Blade Software Ltd
1988
Tactical Combat
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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67
Andy Smith
Chris Bourne

Hitting the Target.

Highlighting the increasing popularity of strategy/wargame software is this tactical warfare simulation from Target Games.

Laser Squad comes complete with the main program and three separate scenarios, with other scenarios to be released later. Once you've loaded the main program you're asked which scenario you'd like to play. The first game takes place on the planet CX-1, at the home of the evil Sterner Regnix - boss of the Marsec corporation. He's being naughty and using mind control drugs and cybernetic implants on his scientists. You take control of a group of ex-employees who are out to assassinate Sterner.

In the second scenario you control another group of Rebels, coming to devastate a moon base owned by the Omni corporation (who aren't too keen on what the Rebels have been up to lately). In the third scenario you're trying to rescue three Rebels held captive in a mine complex. You have to break them out of their cells and ensure they reach the elevators safely.

The game plays in the same way for each scenario. You first decide on how much armour your Rebels should wear, and what weapons they should carry. You buy equipment by exchanging a limited amount of credits for goods. Generally, the better the weapon, the more expensive it is, so you have to juggle things occasionally.

Then you get into the game proper. You control each member of your team in turn, and each character has a limited number of Action Points for that turn. Points are used up by moving, loading weapons, firing etc. When you're playing in one-player mode - each scenario can handle either one or two players, with several difficulty levels incorporated for the one-player games - the computer uses hidden movement of its forces to keep you guessing.

When in combat in the game, you can only fire at targets that you can see - that is, they have to be within your field of vision and not behind closed doors etc. Once you've spotted a target, and depending on your weapon, you get the chance of several types of shot. An aimed shot at an enemy costs the most Action Points, but you're more likely to hit your target, whereas a snap shot costs less and is less accurate. Beware of what shots you're using in certain places, as you may be unlucky enough to miss the target and destroy certain scenery that could prove disastrous to anyone in the vicinity (like gas cannisters in scenario two!).

A nice feature of the weapons side of the game is the inclusion of time-based weapons, i.e. you can prime explosives to go off several turns ahead (when you've got your team clear and the enemy look likely to be right on top of your booby trap).

Each game is limited to a number of turns, this number depending on the scenario, and the game is won by accumulating 100 victory points. You may get awarded points for destroying certain pieces of equipment or by destroying enemy characters, or a combination of the two.

Target Games have not only managed to produce a great game in Laser Squad, but the whole game system and the ability to play further scenarios when they're released makes this almost indispensable for 8-bit tactical wargame fans.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

RELEASE BOX
Spec, £9.95cs, Out Now
C64/128, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Imminent
Ams, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Imminent
Atari ST, £24.95dk, Imminent
Amiga, £24.95dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 85/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 50/100

A terrific game, with more yet to come.

7/10
5/10
7/10
8/10
873/1000

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SPECTRUM VERSION

The 3D graphics are great. The control method takes a little while to get used to, but is very easy once you know it's limitations. The multiple difficulty levels and the two-player options mean you'll be playing Laser Squad for a long time, and the future scenarios adds even more lasting interest.

Screenshot Text

Scenario 1 - your band prepares to burst into Regnix's house. (Inset) The arming screen at the start of the third scenario.

Scenario 2 - your Rebels start wrecking the equipment inside the moonbase.