USC: Counterforce looks like a game that could be made for me considering its theme – space marines fighting aliens in space. Unfortunately, it is not, and left me rather unimpressed. The demo starts with a tutorial that explains one million and a half things, and it all seems rather complex, however, as soon as you know the controls it’s rather basic. You can argue that the classic X-com game is also rather basic, but what that game does that is missing from USC: Counterforce is simulated systems – like weapon projectiles. This makes Counterforce have more in common with the modern iteration of X-com than the original, which is disappointing and makes for pretty boring gameplay.
Not that I entirely dislike nuXcom and its system, but with all this, I mean that the game has a boardgame approach, instead of feeling like a true simulated tactical turn-based experience with all of the autism the genre brings. Another thing that didn’t help was the aliens. They are mostly melee based which means it all comes down to setting up kill zones and waiting for them to come to you. One mission I played was basically like that, making me think it’s the main design of the game. Move up with the squad to spend 5 minutes each turn to mow down all the endless approaching aliens. Mind numbingly boring in TB – a thing that works way better in real time.
Another thing I don’t dig too much is the top down camera angle, but to its favor, it gives you a perfect view over the battlefield at all times. Now that I think about it, the game reminds me of Space Crusade for Amiga. It seems to share a lot of things with that game more so than X-com, like camera, and general gameplay, however, it doesn’t change the fact that it just does not feel good to play. It’s something with the static nature of combat of these types of games that just rubs me the wrong way.
And it’s a big shame because some aspects of Counterforce look cool, for example, the shoulder-mounted camera on each marine, which allows you the see the environment through their eyes. Other things are the weapons and the amount of customization for the units. There seem to be a lot of options combined with the different distinct classes, which is always cool. The campaign will probably be pretty awesome will all these options playing with a persistent squad… And that makes it a waste, for me at least. I really want to like it, and I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s just not for me. That combat felt far from something I would enjoy.
Thanks for reading.