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XBLIG Review: Star Hammer Tactics


Available Platforms

Xbox 360

Reviewed Platforms

Xbox 360

Pros

Easy controls
Simple gameplay

Cons

Repetitive/uncompelling gameplay
Lack of visual variety

Features

Local Multiplayer

Price

MSP 240

Purchase Recommendation

Try

Gameplay

I’m going to be honest here: tactical games are not my forte. The fact that this game has the word “Tactics” in its title was enough to make me want to pop in my copy of Halo and continue on being a strategically-inept meatshield. Star Hammer Tactics offers some words of comfort for players like me, however. Quoted as “a tactical battle game that anyone can learn to play in minutes,” I took these words of support as I dove into the turn-based world of Star Hammer Tactics, not knowing what kind of experience I would be in for.

They weren’t kidding when they say you can learn to play this game in minutes. After a few minutes of stumbling through the controls (give me a thousand buttons for an FPS, and I’m fine, but throw me in a 4-button control scheme for a tactics game, and I’m done) I did, in fact, learn to play this game. Unfortunately, what you learn in the first few minutes is just about what you’re going to get for the rest of the time you’re playing Star Hammer. The gameplay is extremely repetitive as you click a ship, click a square on the grid, rinse, repeat. You can modify your ships’ attack/defense stats during your turn, and this consists of sliding a bar to add and subtract each side of the spectrum. The system feels a bit loose and incoherent, as I found myself just sliding my stats around blindly and hoping for the best. Safe to say a lot of good ships were lost under my command.

There is a time limit for each turn, and each ship has a certain number of points per turn to allocate on movement and stat shifting, adding to the strategy factor in Star Hammer. These elements are about as immersive as the game gets, as players must pay attention to their ships and upgrade their roles according to the battlefield. There are also missiles, which are probably the most exciting thing that happens over the course of this game.

Two modes are available for play, Campaign and Skirmish. Campaign is basically just levels preceded by a paragraph of briefing text, where all the missions are similar in that you must destroy the enemy fleet or sometimes protect a ship. Skirmish allows players to set their own rules and ships, which is a bit more fun, but the objective remains just as repetitive despite which mode you play in.

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Visuals and Sound

The visuals in this game are nicely put together and all fit within the space warfare theme. It’s nice to see solid and coherent art direction in an Indie arcade game, so I must commend the artists for their dedication. In-game graphics are clean, but I was a bit disappointed in the lackluster animations. It would have been nice to see some thrusters or rocket effects on the movement of the sprites or even a better visual cue for the damage counters, as a line of text and numbers feels a bit dated in this day and age. The battlefield itself is basically a colored grid with your average star-studded space background, and the lack of variety in the graphics throughout the levels really doesn’t help break the game from its repetitiveness. So while the graphics are clean, they do become boring after a while.

Sound quality is neither particularly outstanding nor inadequate and fits well within the theme of the game. The background music is indistinct enough to blend in and avoid becoming a nuisance while playing the game, but leave it on long enough, and it too becomes a bit monotonous.

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 Final Verdict

Perhaps I am a bit biased, being a non-tactical gamer with a bit of a short fuse for games that test my patience, but even as a player of turn-based games, I can’t help but feel that Star Hammer Tactics is a bit too simple and basic to hold many player’s interest for long. It has the foundation of a good space tactics game, but doesn’t seem to push the genre in any new direction. The game feels a bit like a mash of Battleship and Rock, Paper, Scissors, so if you’re an avid fan of space battles with a bit of chance thrown in, then go for it. Otherwise, I’d say get the demo first, and if you’re still aching for more by the time the demo expires, then by all means put down 240 points

 

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These elements are about as

These elements are about as immersive as the game gets, as players must pay attention to their ships and upgrade their roles according to the battlefield. There are also missiles 

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