Frozen Endzone Ditches AKs For Running Plays
By Brad Jones
Frozen Endzone is a sort-of sequel to the critically acclaimed Frozen Synapse, a turn-based strategy game where players pitted teams of soldiers against one another in online asynchronous deathmatches. Synapse was a good game in its own right, but there were times where squad size and the sheer range of movement and attack options available to you went from complexity to fiddliness. Happily, Endzone refines what made the gameplay of its predecessor so compelling, bringing it to the fore whilst scrapping any dead weight.
As you may have guessed from the title, Frozen Endzone takes its inspiration from American football. However, there’s a twist: the athletes are highly advanced robots facing off on floating future-turf—Madden this is not. Whilst this may seem like quite a departure from its predecessor, which took its cues from the squad shooter, it really just demonstrates how well the developers at Mode 7 understand what made the first game so fun to play. Watching your squad fan out through a map in the original as they followed your meticulously planned directions was a simple pleasure that never grew stale. The actual combat of Frozen Synapse was typically very short-lived and decisive—it was all about positioning, and if you found yourself caught out in the open, you’d soon find yourself dead.
Frozen Synapse was all about controlling the map, and doing so by moving your squad around in a way that covered all your angles and made sure you couldn’t be caught napping. Looking at it as a game of movement and positioning, it’s far easier to see why American football would be such a good fit for the mechanics already in place, and in practice it works incredibly well. Conceiving and executing a strategy is incredibly satisfying, especially when you’re playing online against your pals. Since multiplayer is asynchronous and you can have several games ongoing at once, you can really take your time and make sure that each move is perfect. That’s not to say the game is slow-paced, though. Every second of gameplay has the potential to be decisive, and matches neither plod on or seem inconsequentially short. It’s a very polished multiplayer experience, and one that has enough moving parts to be consistently engaging whether you play one match or one hundred.
It’s great to see a follow-up to a well-received game that takes a few chances as well as advancing the work that’s already been done, but it’s especially positive to see a game shed its violence rather than pile on some more. It’s rare to see a video game outside of out-and-out sports and racing games that don’t feature killing as their core mechanic, so it’s very refreshing to see the developers at Mode 7 make the decision to remove the guns and grenades for Frozen Endzone. It’s not that it’s a completely non-violent game—there’s still circuit-crunching robot-on-robot tackles to add some impact and intensity—but it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to play some competitive multiplayer that leaves soldiers and terrorists behind and is simply about competition.
Game : Frozen Endzone
Developer : Mode 7
Platforms : Win / Mac / Linux
Current Status : Early Access
Frozen Endzone is currently in development, but if you pre-order the game via Mode 7 Games’ official website, you’ll be given access to a beta version of the game for you and a friend. You can also purchase it via Steam Early Access.