Drop down tactics games can be tricky. There’s a lot of bad ones on the market and trying to parse out the solid from the sketchy can often burn you. I can’t tell you how many I’ve run into that I thought were going to be awesome that turned out to be half-constructed junk with little plot and poor mechanics. So whenever one drops into my lap, I sort of air on the side of caution that it may not be as great as it sounds. We use that same caution as we wade our way into Touch Dimensions’ latest title, Strain Tactics.
The game puts you in command of a soldier who is ridding the world of “The Strain,” a weird viral agent that has cropped up all over Earth and no can figure out what caused it. Many blame bio-terrorism, some blame our missions to Neptune. Who knows! All you know is that this crap is everywhere and you need to get rid of it. You’ve been activated as a soldier to take out this stuff after most of the world went nuclear trying to get rid of it. After getting some instructions on how to operate your new equipment, you’re sent off to seek and destroy with the help of some people along the way.
Right out of the gate, Strain Tactics is a point-and-click kind of movement that feels kind of janky. You have to guide yourself and others around objects using a dotted line on the ground that will how you how they move. When enemies are nearby, soldiers will automatically attack them, leaving out the guesswork of hitting someone. Moving the camera around to find enemies and objects on the map while engaged in combat is a chore that I don’t feel like doing, but it becomes a necessity to see what’s coming and make sure everything is eliminated. It handles about as well as working with a large picture in Photoshop. You can change out equipment for better gear and ammo to get you through the level, but these drops are few and far between, forcing you to play conservatively.
And that plan doesn’t always work out as your soldiers are frequently dumber than a box of rocks. Some will move ahead of you, others will lag behind until someone else moves, and often get shot because of this. The weapon variety is the one saving grace as you can see what everything does and judge for yourself what best to take into whatever situation lies ahead. Also, purchasing the right gear becomes crucial, so spend your money wisely. Being properly equipped will be your one saving grace. The enemies feel very generic, not in the sense that they’re not original, but more the idea that when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. There’s no grand animation or emotion when they die, it just cuts to a picture of what it looks like dead.
The graphic and music int his game are about as generic as they come. Every tree looks like a variation of the last 100 trees you just saw. Craters look the same at different angles, the rocks all look the same in different shades and sizes, even the soldiers just look the same with different gear from above. The music itself sounds like it’s on a two-minute repeating track, which gets old real quick. A lot of the elements to this game feel like they were cranked out last minute or it felt like someone wasn’t trying very hard to make it feel original.
Strain Tactics isn’t all that great. A poor system married to a vague and uninteresting story used as an excuse to “go kill stuff.” I could pop in any version of Command & Conquer right now and get a better experience. Do yourself a favor, don’t bother with it.
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