Greeting Seasons: Frozen Cortex Adds Singleplayer

Mode 7’s simultaneous turn-based future-sport game, Frozen Cortex [official site], has received an enormous update, adding a lifetime’s worth of singleplayer content. Even if you expect your own lifetime to cover an extended period, you should be covered – the update includes randomised seasons, persistent story elements, commentators, a perma-death knockout mode and loads of unique players. I’ve been looking forward to this as much as almost any other game this year.

If you don’t know the basics of Frozen Cortex (previously Frozen Endzone), imagine Frozen Synapse without the guns and with a faint echo of American Football, or watch the trailer just above this paragraph. The attacking team aims to move the ball to their opponent’s goal area, finding routes for passes and hoping to deceive the defenders who would block either the ball or their own movement.

While American Football is there, at the foundation, you won’t need to know the intricacies of an Oklahoma 6-4 Loopaway or an Alley-Oop Truncheon Pump to the Wide Receiver’s Tight End. It’s the most sensible starting point for tactical sportsplay though, seeing as it’s essentially a turn-based sport in real life. Some people complain that it’s all stopping and starting, and I shed a tear and wonder how they’d cope with Panzer Corps.

Here’s a description of the various modes straight from the devs:

This update adds Knockout, a kind of rogue-likey-likey permadeath type mode. Get as far as you can without losing a single match, using only limited (and somewhat randomised) player upgrades each week. Rewards will come for doing specific things in matches: it’s up to you to figure out what those are. It’s pretty hard, but a lot less annoying than a kind of massive, vague flaccid league mode.

Also available is the somewhat-less-hardcore Global Cortex League mode, a more traditional league where the aim of the game is simply to do as well as you can in a season. Earn cash to buy new shiny robot players.

Finally, there’s the Random League mode which pits you against a vast array of randomly-generated teams. This is the Wild West of Cortex. If you happen to like massive vague flaccid league modes…then this is for you! Except it’s really good. Yes.

Each one of these modes has sub-modes with various difficulty settings and rule variants, including Timed Turns: think speed chess with more robot punching. There’s also Killer where you can knock your opponent’s robots out of the game with a single hit.

Short version? You can build your own team and rebuild it as robotic permadeath occurs mid-match. You can design arenas, perfect your tactics and enjoy the simulation of a fictional sport and its surroundings until you’re old and grey, and the actual superbowl contains more metal than flesh.

Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to Sunday’s SuperClash. Rooting for the Seahawks purely because I enjoyed their comeback in the previous game much more than I enjoyed watching the Patriots marching onward all-but unopposed. Being British and therefore having no in-built regional allegiance, I’ve somehow become a Detroit Lions fan. Someone’s got to be, I suppose.


  1. davethejuggler says:

    Really liking the music in that trailer!

  2. Zankman says:

    None of those 3 modes sound like the serious and deep “Career” mode I’d expect and desire from a sports game, unfortunately.

  3. jezcentral says:

    It seems the more money-rich and time-poor I get, the longer games get. I had hoped that games were getting shorter a few years ago. I’m turning out to be wrong.

    Poorer, younger me would be pleased, though.

  4. Crimsoneer says:

    Just went back to it after leaving it alone for ages…it’s damn good. Feels far more intuitive than Synapse did for me.

  5. PopeRatzo says:

    imagine Frozen Synapse without the guns and with a faint echo of American Football

    “Faint” echoes of American football?

    • Juke says:

      Can’t tell if you’re disagreeing or just wanting more detail, but I’d say the influence is indeed faint. When still called Frozen Endzone, the ball was the familiar oblong “egg” with a lot of American Football terminology included, plus the run/pass dynamic, etc. But in action, it felt quite different. You couldn’t really run versions of football plays and succeed. Mode 7 seemed to agree that this was giving people the wrong impression of their game hence changes to the title, ball, etc.

      Unfortunately for me, I was hoping it would feel more like American Football played by robots on a randomized field, but it doesn’t look like that’s what we’ll ultimately get. Frozen Synapse fans will probably like it; American Football fans, less so.

  6. DrollRemark says:

    At least you ended up with an decent team. I chose the Jets.

  7. Juke says:

    Has anyone played the latest update and can provide their thoughts? I bought early access to Frozen Endzone largely *because* I liked the overtones toward American Football, but Mode 7 since walked back a lot of that influence, and stuck to their own brand of generic futuresport shove-around. Which is just my way of saying that I had high hopes but it didn’t click with me when I tried multiplayer builds last year.

    The single-player concept was what sold me on the project, but I lost interest in the sport itself before single-player ever materialized. What I’d like to know is whether it freshens the formula enough that I might still enjoy the game even if the core Cortex sport didn’t click well enough to keep me coming back on its own.

    • Funso Banjo says:

      I’m with you. I was really hoping the game felt and played like a futuristic American Football, with crazy field designs and awesome robotic tricks.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Same here, for what it’s worth. A little disappointed with the direction in which Mode7 has taken the game but that’s the gamble.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Frankly, it sounds like you are hoping for something very much outside of Mode7’s forte. The game very much follows the Frozen Synapse design philosophy, and even simplifies it further.

        I think something like what I think I’m hearing could be pretty cool. I’m imagining different classes of footballer, like how Synapse has different classes of shootman…maybe one could throw over high walls, another takes two players to tackle. Yet even that would make the game lose something, in my opinion.