Wot I Think: Frozen Cortex

Frozen Cortex [official site], formerly Frozen Endzone, is a futuristic American Football analogue where surprisingly graceful robots take the place of fleshy, armour-clad men. It’s evocative of Speedball and Blood Bowl, but it’s really Frozen Synapse wrapped in the theme of competitive team sports. The result’s a purely strategic and tactical game, entirely absent RNG, with players taking their turns simultaneously. I’m quite bad at it.

I used to play a lot of poker, and I only ever had one strategy: act like a maniac. If they couldn’t predict what I was going to do next, if they couldn’t get a read on me, then I’d be sure to win. I thought this every time and rarely did better than break even. I was so focused on what I was doing  that I never spared a thought for my opponents. It’s a bad habit that Frozen Cortex has forced me to break.

The strongest throwing arm, the thickest shoulders, the fleetest feet – these are all ancillary. The greatest weapon in a Frozen Cortex coach’s arsenal is empathy. With turns taking place simultaneously, you’ve got to react to what you think your opponent will do, sometimes several moves ahead. When the next turn starts, where will their robots be? And where will they be after that?

A play, which usually lasts until the ball is picked up or intercepted, is the result of countless tiny decisions. It might only be seconds long, but planning out these seconds – the meat of the game – can be a lengthy process. This all plays out during the planning phase, where players get control over both their own team and the opposing one. It’s like having a crystal ball that reveals all the possible futures, but never which one will come true.

Intuitive controls make crafting virtual plays a doddle, and there’s absolutely no buggering around. Robots from both teams can be clicked on, while another click sets their destination, and if it looks like an enemy robot is going to be in the road, waypoints can be laid out to create a more elaborate route. Attackers, whether AI controlled or the minions of another player, tend to charge when they are trying to intercept, so a bit of zig-zagging or an unconventional route can pay off.

Every route can be stretched and every waypoint dragged, allowing every journey to be laid out with exacting precision. Even more fine-tuning can be achieved with the timer that can be manipulated on every waypoint. If you need a robot to move, but not right away, maybe to avoid a collision, then the timer’s a real boon.

Not heading straight for the endzone can actually net a team more points. While a goal is worth seven points, bonus points can be picked up for travelling across markers dotting the pitch. If you run through a bunch of them, and manage to reach the endzone, well then you’ve basically robbed a bank. But it’s bloody disheartening when that happens to you, and it probably will. That’s when you dramatically throw your cap on the ground in disgust.

When it looks like a run will only end in disaster, there’s always that powerful, robotic throwing arm. Any robot with the ball can toss it – a long way, too. Passes are fraught with danger though. What looks like a gap during the planning phase could be blocked by a sneaky rust-bucket on the opposing team, waiting to intercept the ball. If that seems like a risk, however, then it’s simple enough to click on the opposition’s robots and see if they’ll be able reach the path of the ball in time.

Watching those throws is a singular delight that I have, after a particularly emotional game and a couple of drams, described as “orgasmic”. When a turn plays out, it does so with cinematic flair, with fancy angles and slow-motion. And when it shows a long pass, drawing it out, making the wait agonising, well, it’s pretty hot.

It’s not all sexy, though, it does have quite a bit robot crotch-kicking and choking. This is a rough sport, where beatings take the place of tackles. These all happen automatically when robots enter each other’s tackle or chase zones. So if the ball-carrier tears down the middle and gets close to one of your defenders, even if you haven’t given him orders that turn, he’ll still give chase and hammer his foe on the head. This leaves your brain free to focus solely on positioning and movement.

All of these moves can be tested, tweaked and chucked out until the “perfect” play is found, and that can take a while. It’s something that inspires obsessive experimentation, and if the other coach does something you didn’t anticipate in your virtual play, a complex plan can come crumbling down. So many turns end in nail-biting tension, staring at a single robot, praying that they don’t go left. And then, in a moment, it’s over. The bastard went left.

Every time a play is committed to, it feels like this massive, weighty investment, bearing down until the outcome flashes onto the screen. Then it rushes out, in my case vocally. I shout and I roar, railing against misfortune or revelling in an amazing, lucky run. In those seconds, my brain must look a lot like it does when I’m watching the rugby. But while I’m only getting up off my chair and yelling at the TV or at the pitch a couple of times during a rugby match, Frozen Cortex is almost entirely made up of those climactic moments.

The whole game is like a highlight reel full of big hits, desperate chases and huge throws. Perhaps the lives of sports fans of the future are just too busy for games that go on for well over an hour. The size of the pitch is a big part of why Frozen Cortex is so damn fast. The pitch is bloody tiny; an itsy bitsy pitch that you could fit in your pocket. First impression: adorable!

I wouldn’t deign to mock it now. It’s the perfect size. The robots, five in each team, are placed perilously close to each other, and the pitch is peppered with walls, taking up much of the already cramped real estate. Some walls are low enough so that the ball can be thrown over them, but none can be climbed over, making the pitch a bit of a maze. They walls serve to funnel robots down certain paths, creating ambush zones and choke points, and that’s when Cortex stops feeling like a sport and starts to feel like two squads of warriors colliding.

The walls and the small maps are not restrictive. They inspire more confrontation and put players in difficult situations where every choice is meaningful. A huge, sprawling field might, ostensibly, offer more options, but not more impactful ones. Every move made should be part of a bigger plan, should be important, and as a match plays out, a single step in one direction can make the difference between victory and a painfully narrow defeat.

Frozen Cortex’s distilled tension makes each match feel like the best bits of sport and strategy gaming, but outside of the hot robot-on-robot action, things are rather dull.

Teams work their way up league ladders in a few single-player modes, one of which has a knockout rule, because permadeath is en vogue. There’s a dash of team management in the pre-game menus, and it’s really nothing more than a dash. The mechanical squads can be customised at the start of the season, in purely aesthetic terms, but after that, they are frozen in time. Robo-footballers don’t make any progress, there’s no training and no chance of an upgraded operating system or a new circuit board. They can be replaced with new robots with money earned from matches and bets, but with them being interchangeable, there’s no real opportunity to get attached to a team.

On top of the paper-thin management, there’s a story of corruption within the league that dodders along between matches. It’s told through a series of awkward interviews with dreary coaches and reporters, and it has no real bearing on the games. It’s hard not to just skip all the nonsense and go straight to the Future Ball. That’s where all the progress happens, anyway. The game doesn’t change, robots don’t level up, but how I play has certainly evolved, and maybe that’s all it needs – personal progress. And the best way to make that progress is the tried and tested method of failure and ass-kickings.

Some people are really, really good at Frozen Cortex. They might be psychics, robots or, god forbid, robot-psychics. And while every failure left me flushed with impotent rage, I try not to forget how I was defeated. Every game holds the promise of unanticipated strategies, ones that can get stored away and used against someone else. I haven’t reached the point where I keep a secret book of plays locked up in a drawer with a turned down photograph of an ex-wife, a bottle of bourbon and a gun, but that might not be a bad idea.

I still remember my first victory, which isn’t very surprising since it was less than a week ago, but it is memorable. I was, after a few very bad matches against some slightly more experienced players, finally pitted against a fellow fresh-faced newbie. Excitement started bubbling away, and I scrambled around in my brain trying to remember all the things that caught me out in my first couple of matches. And then I saw an opening, a chance to make a massive, dangerous run across most of the pitch.

All of my robots, apart from the ball-carrier, were on the left, waiting for a pass, or prepared to block an enemy if I decided to make a run down that side. That route was calling to me. “Fraser,” it whispered, “I’m totally safe. Loot at all the burly robot athletes standing around.” But it was just so obvious. The other coach would surely expect that. The path on the right was another matter. I was yelling during that whole run, banging on my desk and whooping like an imbecile, watching my little automaton narrowly escape a grabby foe when he turned a corner. When I saw the robot pass over the line and do his endzone dance, I accidentally knocked over the plate of toast that was to be my prize.

That stirring tale of victory against someone even less experienced than myself would have been a good place to end this Wot I Think, if it wasn’t for the bit about ruining breakfast. I can’t end it on toast. This gives me an opportunity to talk about style, which has nothing to do with the most important meal of the day.

The minimalism of Frozen Synapse has been set aside in favour of a more vibrant, but very clean, style. The robots all sport handsome holograms, brightly-coloured but not gaudy, and the pitches are sleek and utilitarian, apart from all the neon. The stadiums are frequently set in peculiar, out of the way locations, like the secret lair of a Bond villains, and it just so happens that these locations are all incredibly striking, from frozen mountain peaks to colossal caverns filled with magma. It’s a weird juxtaposition of Tron-like sci-fi and epic, natural vistas.

It’s easy to ignore the style in a game that’s all about laser focus. The most convenient way to play if from a bird’s eye view, turning the pitch into a board, and the board becomes everything, isolated from distractions. There’s no pageantry, either. You won’t find crowds cheering your robots on or vuvulezas bursting eardrums. It’s silent, apart from the excellent, hypnotic nervous_testpilot soundtrack.

Everything is stripped away, leaving two coaches to duke it out over a weird looking ball. It’s how robots would design a sport if, you know, they actually liked sport. Just the bare essentials, all purity and rawness with simple rules, simple tools and a clear objective. It’s a game that, at a glance, you know how to play. And you should probably go and do that.

Frozen Cortex is out now.

From this site

50 Comments

  1. Prolar Bear says:

    It looks very, very sexy indeed. Added to my steamy wishlist.

  2. spacedyemeerkat says:

    An interesting review. I’ve owned it for several months but still can’t work out if I like it.

    Playing against the AI in league mode seems so incredibly tough (I’ve still not won a game) and I’m not sure if it’s down to my ineptitude or the fact my team is so woefully underpowered compared to the opposition. Some of my boneheaded moves would appear to confirm it’s the former but the difference in robot abilities is huge and I wonder if it’s partially designed to get easier with each $100 earned for losing a game.

    • Guvornator says:

      Really?! What difficulty? I got to the playoffs on standard difficulty on my first go yesterday, and I’m terrible at games. On that difficulty the AI was variable – quite cunning but often it would do the same thing. As far as I can tell, the path to winning is just covering all the gaps in the obstacles and having 1 robot attacking the ball carrier on defense.

      • Xocrates says:

        Yeah, I won the league on my first try with a win rate of something along the lines of 13-3. Once you get the basics down it’s very easy to either consistently win or lose by a very small margin.

        • spacedyemeerkat says:

          Way to make an ageing gamer feel very inadequate, the pair of you!

          :D

          • davec1 says:

            It took me 3-5 games vs. the AI to get the hang of it and then win most of the time.

            You could check out some random folks replays to compare play styles, maybe there’s a fundamental bit that you’ve overlooked in how you approached each game.

            Also, vs. AI in league it’s definitely worth it to keep upgrading your robots (and even if you lose a game, I think you still get $100. You can also bet against yourself, I believe, so that could be a viable funding strategy while you’re not feeling confident about winning games :D

          • Guvornator says:

            Well, to expand with some guidelines based on my short experience ( baring in mind this is just against the AI and on standard difficulty):-

            Defense:

            Cover the gaps in the lanes (this’ll stop those irritating runs).
            Have one person charging the ball carrier FROM THE FRONT. The carrier can only move or pass forward. A well placed bot can rule out a third of the field for passing just from proximity.
            Don’t feel you have to move. This depends on the layout of the obstacles, but if you’re blocking all the gaps (check your tackle range with the “C” key) there’s no special need to move. Chasing the AI around will leave gaps. Unless there’s a free pass on, or there’s a large amount of points zones in reach, good cover shouldn’t be messed with. Again, the carrier HAS to move forward, so they will end up in someone’s tackle zone, and that means a turnover.

            Offense
            Set up your next pass while you’re setting up your current pass.
            Remember to move the opposition. Assume that it knows EXACTLY what you are going to do. If you can’t defend your scheme that you know, the opposition shouldn’t have a chance.
            Be prepared – runs won’t end until the runner is tackled or in the endzone. So either make sure you have bots blocking the run (they have to be still so will have to arrive before any opposition), arriving at the point where runner is tackled to tackle straight back or even just getting back to provide cover.
            Punt the ball. If a turnover is inevitable it might as well be on your terms. A long pass into a corner the AI is going to have trouble getting out of is preferable to a run that only picks up a couple of points and leaves the AI a free run into your endzone. Even better, pass to where your bots can get quickly and you can tackle the AI and probably pick up some points.

            In short: You’ll be playing defense even when you’re playing on offense. You’re looking to pick up points on the AIs ball pickup and at least match on yours.I’m sure there are more advanced plays around and this is far from comprehensive, but these guidelines will win you games against the AI.

    • superbob2k says:

      I am in the same boat. I want to like the game but cannot win a single game against the AI. I wish there was some type of learning curve built in. Also it might be fun to write bots for the game. Maybe they will allow scripting. About my only chance to win :) ha

  3. amateurviking says:

    Oh yes. Time to dive in!

  4. shadow9d9 says:

    Is the game all double think, like frozen synapse seemed to be?

    • Moe45673 says:

      Yes. The biggest difference between this and Synapse is in this game, your choices are waypoints and the time-delay thing from Synapse. If you have the ball, that person can throw it. Everything else is gone.

      This makes the game more streamlined as you consider things, like if someone is moving and the other is not, the one not moving will stun the other, leaving them useless for a few precious seconds.

      However, having loved Synapse, i miss the aiming, the checking, the ignoring/focusing, the ducking…. all that fun stuff. This one is so spartan in comparison. It’s not “Synapse for newbs”, not at all. It’s a fully realized tactical game and it’s pretty awesome. But I miss the extra choices from Synapse.

      That’s just me, though. Had I played this first, I’d probably think FS is too complicated :p

      • subedii says:

        As an addendum, I’d say that (from my few hours of Cortex and lots of hours of Synapse) Synapse felt as if it was focused more on the granularity of your moves. A split second too early or too late, an attack that hits just at the turn end giving the enemy an opportunity to react. It could be a lot to take in but it took fine-tuning your strategy and anticipation to a whole new level.

        Cortex feels more like it’s focused on the big decisions and the big plays. You’ll be facing decisions, but they’ll usually be more stark and discrete: Pass or throw, move into this direction or that one, will he pass, and if he does, can I intercept?

        Both games are focused on you predicting and anticipating your opponents moves. Synapse seems to go for the minutiae (not a bad thing), where Cortex (seems to have, remember, short play time so far) streamlined that into fewer, more discrete and more impactful decisions.

        • subedii says:

          Also: Unlike Frozen Synapse, I’m actually enjoying playing the Singleplayer here. Not that Synapse had a bad campaign or anything, but I much preferred the back and forth against human players.

          • Moe45673 says:

            I think the decisions on if to move or not (for reasons of stunning enemy players) as well as intercepting potential passes are equal but different to those in Frozen Synapse on who gets the kill first when 2 units fire at each other. Again, though, in FS there were like 5-7 priorities looked at to see who gets the kill, whereas here it’s very binary if a robot gets stunned or a pass gets intercepted.

  5. Shadowcat says:

    So having played both, if you could recommend only one of the two games to a newbie, would it be Synapse or Cortex?

    • Houghtezo says:

      I’d start with Cortex, I think it is a lot easier to pick up. Synapse is fantastic, but there is a lot more going on

      • Tacroy says:

        Yeah it’s weird, Frozen Cortex is almost like the game that a studio would release and then think, “what if we added guns to this?” and then come up with Frozen Synapse.

        It’s odd that they went the other way around.

    • Xocrates says:

      Definitely Cortex.

      Simpler rules, less guessing (due to smaller maps and focus on the ball), less punishing (since you never lose guys, though they can be briefly stunned, and the turn ends once the ball changes hands).

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      I am far too biased in favour of good old Frozen Synapse to give an objective view, but I can point out some stuff that might help make the decision. As others have said, Cortex is more streamlined and probably easier to pick up (as far as I can tell as someone who has only played a few games of FC), but then FS has a more cat-and-mouse feeling to it. They both require trying to second-guess your opponent, but the way many of the modes in FS work mean you can’t even see your opponent’s players unless they are in sight of your players, which increases the second guessing to much more paranoid degrees.

      Also worth considering which theme you like better – FS does a pretty good line in tactical shooty-bangs, while for all its strategy, FC is definitely still a sport at heart. I know little of Americanised foot-to-ball, so am still finding it a bit odd to get used to the idea of everything having to always go toward the goal-line. (Can’t pass or run back up the field with the ball-carrier).

      Given the recent release and current hype cycle, FC probably has more players at the moment though, if multiplayer is your thing. Not sure how many are still playing FS.

  6. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    While I absolutely loved Frozen Synapse, I dont think Ill be picking this up.

    In the end, each turn in frozen synapse was taking me around an hour to an hour and a half. Id make a good strategy for my team, counter it with the enemies, make a strategy that counters that, counter it with my enemys team, make a strategy that counters his two counters…. etc. If I was going to do it, i was going to do it properly, but it just took so effing long!

    • Shadowcat says:

      That makes me think of my first ‘dark’ multi-player game of FS, which ended up being against someone who mostly stayed hidden close to the starting area (except they could also have moved half-way across the map and stayed in cover the whole way, so the simulation got a hell of a work-out as the turns went by).

      I won the match, and it was pretty awesome being able to watch the replay and see just how well I’d done, but I found the whole experience exhausting; so that was also my last dark game.

      (But then I much prefer single-player anyhow.)

    • davec1 says:

      In Cortex, the choices are much more limited, but in a good way. Planning a turn can still take a while, but probably a lot less than in FS. Your choices are just: Run (Timing/Where) and Pass (Where), for 5 robots, and sometimes, the play situation won’t require you to move all of them anymore.

      I think it’s a positive case of streamlining, because there’s still interesting choices to be made at almost any moment, but it’s not as overwhelming as FS.

  7. 3Form says:

    I was a huge fan of Frozen Synapse, and I’ve enjoyed this game for the most part but I just don’t think I can carry on playing it now. I’ve only had games against the AI but I’ve encountered many game breaking inconsistencies and bugs where my plans are absolutely wrecked. This is terrible in one of the single player modes where it’s game over when you lose a single match. I can expect it to be even more horrifying in multiplayer

    Basically I’ve had cases where the planning phase bugs out, it shows me one thing but then as soon as I PRIME my robot is tackled before he can even throw the ball.
    Even worse, last night I literally had an opponent run THROUGH my robot with the ball, without being tackled or chased.

    I want to recommend this game because it seems to be much more about bluffing and reading your opponent than FS was (FS was more about accounting for all the choices the enemy could make) but with this stuff is a recipe for frustration if you spend ten minutes planning your turn, only for a bug to allow your opponent to do exactly what you were planning to counter.

    And having experienced such frustrations in a mere 4 hours play time… FS had it’s wobbles but they were very infrequent.

    • PaulMode7 says:

      Hi there – sorry to hear you’ve had problems – if you contact support@mode7games.com with game numbers (if these are MP games) or save files if they are SP, we will investigate. Planning vs. Outcome inconsistencies are bad and really shouldn’t happen.

      • Guvornator says:

        I’ve had some inconsistencies, but as a Blood Bowl player thgat didn’t bother me. What did was having to junk a SP knockout campaign because the third match crashed on start up every single time. Why only one savegame?

      • 3Form says:

        Thanks Paul. Sorry if that was a bit negative, I’m still a massive fan. Will keep at it and make save games with the next occurrences.

        I’m not even sure the ball carrier running through my player was an inconsistency, as I never even checked it on planning mode. Might’ve been a hiccup with how they compete to pick up an unclaimed ball, as my player was beaten to it. Just the next turn he sort of just hung there for a bit and didn’t give chase as the enemy ran straight through him. I think that’s not a game rule but I could be wrong.

  8. raiders5000 says:

    I picked up Frozen Cortex and Cosmosnautica last Friday. I wanted something to tinker around with while I took small breaks from Football Manager; if that was even possible. I installed both games flipped a coin and Frozen Cortex won. By Monday morning, my steam hourly played stats read: Cosmosnautica: 0 hrs, Football Manager 2015: 4 hrs, Frozen Cortex: 31 hours.

    I never played Synapse (and never will now) because it didn’t appeal to me. I thought the same for Frozen Endzone. I guess somewhere, the marketing strategy changed while the game evolved. Nonetheless, from my first playthough I was hooked. I didn’t understand all the ends and outs since this game refuses to hold your hand (which is a positive thing).

    However, as I kept playing, doors were unlocking and secrets revealed seriously pleasant treasures. And within those first 31 hours, I went from constantly and woefully losing to a force to be reckoned with. What I’ve found is Frozen Cortex isn’t just a game of 5 vs 5 on a procedurally generated pitch. It’s about betting, upgrading, and strategizing bots to fit my purposes. Basically, it’s Chess with Mechs.

    Winning money is the key (The booky is your friend). Upgrading piece-o-crap bots into The Golden Army is the objective (the marketplace is your friend, mate). And gambling is the forbidden fruit (whether on yourself, against yourself, or on AI vs AI; money is money, mate). I play “Capture the Flag” on the pitch but I’m Archie Karas off of it. And by the time week 6 starts, it’s pure adrenaline. I’m talking Breaking Bad meth here, jeebs.

    And do you know what the funny thing is? The games are actually very VERY short. I couldn’t believe how fast the games were over despite me spending maddening amounts of time contemplating diagrams. Furthermore, the full replay of the game is like 1 minute and some seconds. Each game consists of 12 turns, but the turns are decided by Events. So there’s really only a couple of possession per game. But what glorious possessions they are.

    All isn’t peaches and crème here though. While the core of the game is absolutely flawless in my opinion, the UI outside of the pitch is garbage. It’s not really setup optimally and looks pretty damn pedestrian; which probably explains why there isn’t a single picture of it in the entire RPS review.

    So for ALL of you (those inclined to play and those who are already negatively judging the book by its cover) looking to adventure into fresh and new experiences of tactical strategic turn-based sports-themed Chessical warfare, jump overboard, lads. The water is fine.

    • Houghtezo says:

      Couldn’t agree more – I’ve been absolutely loving the matches, but everything in between is pretty useless. I’d really love to see a more fleshed out league – touchdowns for/against, top scorers etc… Just being able to go to the market more than once per round would be nice – I don’t see any reason why it goes away once you leave it?
      It does seem like a really good game, but a few simple tweeks like these could see it be a lot better

      • Xocrates says:

        You can actually go to the Market/Bookie at any time by clicking on your advisor’s face.

        • Houghtezo says:

          Ah! Good to know, cheers. I thought there must be a way to do it, but couldn’t find it

    • Christo4 says:

      As someone who didn’t really like Frozen synapse, tried it a bit but never could really get into it (maybe because some turns took way too long), this really sounds promising, since it seems like it is am easier to get into title.
      Opinions on this?

      • Moe45673 says:

        As I said above, the only things you can do in this game are set waypoints, set a delay timer, and throw the ball (if you have it). Everything else is mindgames. This makes the sports theme really shine through (negatively, for me, as I’m not a sports fan). I think I prefer the much more tactical Synapse, which felt like playing an FPS with a time machine. Having said that, this game (like Synapse) has endless replayability and depth.

        If the wealth of options are what frustrated you away from FS but you liked everything else, you’ll like this.

  9. B0 says:

    Ok, I’m seeing a bit of discrepancy between the original review and some of the comment reviews. Hoping someone can clear this up.

    The original review states the robots are interchangeable, and not upgradable. You can get more, but they are all the same.

    spacedyemeerkat said “…the difference in robot abilities is huge…”
    raiders5000 said “Upgrading piece-o-crap bots into The Golden Army is the objective (the marketplace is your friend, mate). ”

    Perhaps this depends on the different leagues/gamestyles?

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      In single player league mode, you start off with robots that effectively have negative abilities. Each game, you earn an amount of cash to spend on the robot market (purchasing new robots and discarding your rubbish ones), either immediately or by saving up. This is the only way to improve your team.

    • Guvornator says:

      I haven’t tried multiplayer but you can upgrade your bots in sp league mode for the cash you earn for wins. In knockout you can just exchange them

    • Giaddon says:

      I believe Brown was trying to make a distinction between replacing your players with better ones (which you can do) and upgrading existing ones. Your team only ever has five players, so there’s no bench or stock: every new, better robot you acquire means it replaces one you already have. However, there is an option for new robots to take the name of the robot they replace, so you could see it as upgrading your team. One of my biggest complaints is that it is impossible to tell your players apart without bringing up the stats overlay.

      • raiders5000 says:

        Thank you, Giaddon for clearing that up for B0. I apologize, B0. I should’ve been more clear. I choose the option to keep my original bot names. So when I purchase a new bot, the stats and abilities are upgraded but he’s still my personally named bot. So that’s what I mean by “upgrading” instead of “exchanging”. And I do this pretty much based on what Giaddon said. I found it to hard to keep up with bots when they changed names and positions in just about every new game.

    • B0 says:

      Thanks all for your responses!

  10. PopeRatzo says:

    Why does he call the field a “pitch”?

  11. bonuswavepilot says:

    RPS Frozen Cortex league is on the way! If you’re interested please post to that effect hither. At the moment the plan is to wait until the multiplayer league features are turned back on to set up a proper league, but if you’re looking for friendly RPS folk to schedule a match or two with, we’re starting to gather there.

  12. davec1 says:

    I absolutely love this game! I also liked the idea of Frozen Synapse, but didn’t manage to really get into the game. So I would give it a chance on its own merits, regardless of your experience with Frozen Synapse.

    While there are some situations, where it truly comes down to you and your opponent making a guess and whoever guesses right, scores, I feel this aspect is often overemphasized in reviews. Those moments happen occasionally, and they certainly are thrilling, but fortunately, there’s a lot more tactical depth to it than that, unless your playstyle consists of making high-risk gambits. If these “mindgames” were the main part of the game, it would be very shallow, as the game is not long enough to get to know your opponent and make meaningful choices based on psychology.

    One very cool aspect is that you don’t need to be online at the same time as your oppent to play together, and you can have multiple games going at the same time (like the guy in the park that plays chess at 3 different tables simultaneously). This is perfect, maybe even required for a niche multiplayer game.

    To me, this game is a perfect example of a very focused experience, the core gameplay just works and the controls do, too. That totally compensates for the occasional feature or two you might miss (like being able to pick your robots’ starting positions. Though I wonder if maybe they tried that and found it limited gameplay by making overpowered skill combinations possible).

    It would be lovely to get significant DLC or a Frozen Cortex 2 with some more fleshed out bits around the fantastic core game experience to turn it into a fully-fledged sports game.

    • Christo4 says:

      Hmm, i kinda had the same experience with Frozen Synapse, so perhaps I’ll enjoy this game more.

  13. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Seems like a mix of Frozen Synapse and BloodBowl, but more streamlined than both. Probably not as fun for me as either, as well but I’d really have to try it to find out.

  14. raiders5000 says:

    P.S.

    I disagree with the premise:

    “Robo-footballers…can be replaced with new robots with money earned from matches and bets, but with them being interchangeable, there’s no real opportunity to get attached to a team.”

    I keep my 5 boys named. I steal the tech from the robot in the marketplace. Well, not steal, but a pay a pretty hard penny for his upgrades. I’ll never “interchange” my boys. They just keep getting better with every match. And yes, I have grown very attached to them. All 5 of’em!

  15. jezcentral says:

    I loved Frozen Synapse, but there was a deal-breaker in the code. I would spend ages sorting out movements. And after this exhausting process, my opponent would drop out, and all that effort would be for nothing. Very frustrating.

    Has the time limit been implemented properly, this time?

  16. Catchcart says:

    Just wanted to say excellent WIT – informative, well-written and droll. Thanks, Fraser – hope you get more assignments. Only thing I was missing was more comparisons to Frozen Synapse, as in ‘How familiar/new will this feel if you’ve played FS?’

  17. Josh W says:

    “Cortezone”

    I just wanted to stress what an excellent pun that is.