|Multiplayer:||There are buttons for the online multiplayer, but the system doesn't seem to be up and running.|
|AI:||Unknown, or none|
|Purchase for iPhone:||None available. Buy an iPad now!|
|Purchase for iPad:||
Legions of Steel
GD Star Rating
Humanity is doomed! Again! This time it’s evil robot thingies from outer space stealing all of the natural resources and eating all the chocolate out of or Neapolitan ice cream. Now it’s up to the humans to put on heavy steel armor so they can infiltrate the machine bases and set off more metal-on-metal action than a battle of the bands between The Scorpions and Iron Maiden. Does Legions of Steel rock like a hurricane, or should you run to the hills to avoid it? Rock on to find out!
Legions of Steel starts with a rather long series of tutorial missions, and brother, are you going to need them. During the typical mission you’ll control a squad of eight to twelve individual units, and you’ve got to tell each of them where to go, how fast to go, what direction to look in, what to shoot, how to shoot, what to shoot with, and in what order all of that should be done – on every single turn.
Each mission takes place within a Machine base where everything is built on a perfect square grid, sort of like evil Legos. Mission objectives are the usual fare for this sort of game – escape; prevent your opponent from escaping; blow-up something in particular; race your opponent to particular location; stay alive; and/or the ever popular kill everything.
Your squad of units is predetermined based on the mission, but it’s usually a few generic troopers, two heavy weapons guys, one corporal and one sergeant. The corporal and the sergeant both pack leadership points which can be used to make other units shoot better, move faster and/or help with initiative. Initiative is determined via a d6 roll after every round.
On your turn, you select each of your units one at a time and tell them to run, walk or stand still. The computer highlights which squares your unit is able to reach with each option. Walking grants you four movement points. Running grants you eight. Doing anything like taking a step, turning, or opening a door uses up those points at different rates depending on whether you’re walking or running.
Firing your awesome future weapons takes a bit more than just pulling a trigger. A fully loaded soldier has ten options regarding what to fire (the gun, the grenade, or the force-field grenade) and how to fire it (basic, automatic, and five types of covering fire). There is no in-game rules reference regarding what does what, so I hope you remembered the tutorials. Once again the computer highlights all of your valid targets, and tapping on a target shows you your percentage chance of hitting it before you commit to pulling the trigger. (The game uses a 2d6 system.) An additional tap of the percentage window will show you all of the modifiers that were used to calculate your odds.
The game board can be displayed in either the fancy artwork realistic view, or a simplified blue lines on graph paper look. You can toggle between the two looks at time, and both views are fully rotatable. While you can always see the layout of the entire map, some missions allow for “Electronic Warfare” which is a fog of war that only allows you to see opponents that at least one of your units has line of fire to.
A handy undo button lets you give the Edge Of Tomorrow treatment to each of your units, back to the point where they last shot at something. The game auto-saves your progress at the end of each round of the game, and you can keep multiple saved missions and campaigns simultaneously. As of this writing, the online multiplayer still isn’t active, leaving you the options of playing solo against the computer, or as a pass-and-play where one of you gets to control the machine hordes against those pesky humans.
While Legions Of Steel may seem like a simple little game of moving around and shooting stuff, much like the subterranean lairs the game takes place in there is a lot buried beneath the surface. Having a unit perform the mere act of walking requires the same amount of button taps as dialing a local phone number. While that may not seem like much, remember that you spend each round of the game calling up to twelve of your friends without the help of an auto-dialer or a contact book, and they’ll each need their own area code if you want them to shoot anything.
Due to the tight quarters of machine bases you are invading, portions of the game can turn into exercises in traffic control as your armor-laden commandos can’t walk through each other and failing to blow-up or open one key door can wreck your whole turn.
Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of the game is unit facing. Each unit’s firing arc is strictly limited to the ninety degrees directly in front of it, because apparently elite soldiers in the future aren’t trained to turn their heads slightly. Compounding this problem is that your units spend a lot of time staring at the adjacent walls because you forgot to save enough movement points for them to turn around. Again, these are highly trained troopers adept at following orders, not people you would want in your improv troupe.
While there are a lot of buttons to be pushed each turn, the neat and efficient layout gives you easy access to everything at all times. The artwork and the lighting give the machine bases an aura of damp, rusty doom, much like several of my first apartments. The background music is decidedly creepy and foreboding, also like several of my first apartments (I was in a Cure phase). The sound effects are the lone presentation aspect I don’t like, as the weapons fire all sounds like a kindergartener imitating a Star Wars blaster, and units die in complete silence without so much as a Wilhelm scream.
In addition to the online multiplayer still not being active, I have had the game freeze-up on me several times. The game does auto-save as you progress, but having to restart may cause you to lose an entire round of initiative, successfully hitting opponents and successfully not getting hit back. Is this the work of the machine hordes traveling back in time to mess with our iPads so we don’t learn the skills to kill them in the future? We won’t know until our toasters come alive to tell us, and by then it’s too late!
Legions of Steel is a difficult to learn game, and full of little rules that are meant to be forgotten just long enough to come and bite you in your metal-encased backside. By playing it, you will waste useful chunks of your life screaming at little pixelated soldiers for being stupid enough to follow your orders precisely. You will strangle your iPad in impotent rage as you helplessly watch your units die a thousand deaths, and swear never to play this stupid game again. And that’s what makes it so fun. It’s like being Hudson in Aliens, and Patton in Patton, and Bill Murray in Groundhog Day all at the same time.
Because of the very limited variety of assets available to you, your only hope is to figure out some strategy and to do it quick. Actually, you’d better start re-figuring some strategy as the whims of combat luck will ensure that your plans aren’t going to last long. So download the app, buckle yourself in, crank-up the Megadeth and avenge humanity!!! (After carefully playing through the tutorials, that is.)
Check out other great games:
- Game over, man! Game over! (In the best of ways)
- Displays and controls seem to come from the not-to-distant future.
- Not a cause of Legionnaire's disease.
- Looong tutorial.
- You'll press more buttons than your dry cleaner.
- Units take death with a surprising quiet grace.