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Have You Played... Frozen Cortex?

Cold Brains

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We don’t get enough simultaneous turn-based games.

Frozen Cortex takes teams of somehow sleek-yet-chunky robots and makes them compete in a wisely stripped down derivative of Americaball. It’s not as cruel as it may sound, and its amusing, gently satirical near future setting wisely keeps out of the way of the tactical sport fun.

It compares best, of course, to Mode 7’s own Frozen Synapse, but I find Cortex much less taxing to play. Teams of 5 players take turns to pick up and run or throw a ball past their opponents to the endzone, while the other team tries to intercept their passes or bodyslam the ball carrier to steal some points back.

It’s just complicated enough, as its moves are very few – really just moving, throwing, and waiting, all done with simple clicks and drags – leaving the tactical wrinkles entirely down to who can best anticipate and outdo the other team’s behaviour. The minor complication to its scoring (seven points for a touchdown, but two if your ball carrier touches one of the glowing blue sections of floor dotted about the pitch), and the strictly limited, but slightly manipulable turns, add just the right amount of extra possibilities without muddying its waters.

Its randomnised pitches sometimes completely screw you, but I guess that’s sport, right? And games are short enough that it’s easy to take the hit and move on. And you’ll still get a cool replay of the whole match as a little reward.

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