It’s been a long time coming, but first-person shooter enthusiasts are finally starting to get some real options for mobile. Combat Squad: Project Wednesday by A-33 Studio (run by many of the key folks behind Counter-Strike Online) is the newest entry to the genre’s growing games list. There’s a little something in Combat Squad to please all FPS fans who give the game a go. However, in trying to offer something for everyone, the game falls a little flat overall.
While Combat Squad benefits from interesting key gameplay concepts, straightforward controls, and smooth multiplayer gameplay (thanks to its use of the Unreal engine), it suffers from an weak storyline and maps which aren’t particularly inspired. On the whole, Combat Squad meets the bar for a good first person shooter on mobile. It’s solid. However, now that there’s a solid roster of FPS titles, to stand out it would need to raise the bar. While it’ll likely attract and retain a solid group of players without too much difficulty, it just doesn’t manage to hit that high mark you’re hoping for.
In Combat Squad, the year is 2020 you’re the commander of an international squadron of elite, highly-specialised counterterrorist operatives acting under the auspices of a newly created United Nations counter-terrorism force. Your job is to eliminate terrorists, presumably as defined by the United Nations.
While human, the operatives themselves are subject (or have fallen victim to) serious mind control which gives you, their commander, total control over their thoughts and movements. You can control anyone in your squad. The main challenge is deciding which of your operatives to control at any given moment as you can only control one.
Combat Squad also gives you the option of not controlling any of your operatives directly, allowing you to watch from the sidelines in simulated gameplay, jumping in if needed. While not the most exciting option, given that you have some control over your squad’s path through the game from the round start screen – you can select your ‘A’ team, ‘B’ team, and their routes (from three potential options for each team) – it can often work out in your favor.
With the ability to jump in and out of the minds (and bodies) of different squad members, it’s not surprising that the game is very team-first. Showboating comes with no real rewards here – not even in multiplayer mode. As your opponents (whether in mission mode or multiplayer) move together as a team, so too must you or you’ll quickly find yourself under fire from three to five enemies and that never ends well.
For some players, this focus on cooperation will be a refreshing change. The FPS landscape, both on console and mobile, can, for all its team play options, be as individual stats-centric as the race to make the NBA all-star team. For others, having to spread your resources around across a whole team will make it harder to really engage with the game. It’s easier to put yourself in the shoes of a single person than it is to put yourself in the shoes of five (or 6 if you expand). Because this team focus is still unusual, you’ll probably need to give Combat Squad a try to know for certain whether it’s approach is for you.
Working in Combat Squad’s favour are strong three-dimensional graphics. The fall scenes that often are a real highlight in the FPS genre aren’t present, but the smoothness of the gameplay graphics makes up for this.
If you like first person shooters, you’ll probably want to give Combat Squad a try — but I wouldn’t be surprised if, for many of you, it doesn’t turn out to be a fast favorite or earn a permanent place on your homescreen.