Rebelstar Tactical Command «

Tactical strategy games are nothing new to the GBA. In fact, some of the handheld’s biggest hits, such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Fire Emblem, have been of the strategic variety. Now, the developers of the popular X-Com strategy series for the PC are bringing their expertise to the portable market with the release of a new sci-fi strategy title, Rebelstar Tactical Command.

The storyline in Rebelstar Tactical Command is your basic sci-fi fare. Earth has been taken over by a race of highly intelligent and psychically enhanced aliens known as Arelians. Arelian rule is strictly enforced by the Zorn, a reptilian race of creatures known for their brutality and bloodthirsty nature. Under Arelian law, human children are implanted with a small locator chip soon after birth, and harvested upon reaching the age of thirty. Earth’s only hope now lies with Jorel, a young boy with mysterious potential and the latest recruit in a growing rebel army.

Rebelstar‘s gameplay should feel instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a turn-based tactical strategy game before. Players control small squads of troops as they battle against alien forces over a series of different battlefields. At the start of each turn, every character is given a number of action points. Action points control all actions in a battle, from movement and firing to reloading and using equipment. With a proper allocation of points, a player could have his units move from cover, fire on enemy troops, and then jump back into cover.

Point management becomes even more crucial after factoring in Rebelstar‘s strict rules involving line of sight. In most strategy games, the player can easily see where all of his opponents are on the battlefield. In Rebelstar, however, a player’s field of vision is restricted by his troops’ line of sight. Troops cannot see what may be sneaking up behind them, or what may be hiding behind a nearby wall or tree. This adds a higher level of tension and planning to the game, as the player is forced to come up with a solid offensive strategy while still protecting himself from a possible ambush. Of course, since the same rules apply to the opposing forces, the player can also use some stealth and guile of his own to catch the enemy by surprise.

As deep and engaging as the strategy element is in Rebelstar Tactical Command, the same can’t be said for the game’s presentation. The graphics in Rebelstar are decent enough to get the job done, however, they’re not exactly going to blow anyone away. Things don’t fare any better in the audio department, either. The music starts to grate after a while, and the other effects just seem somewhat bland. There’s a fine line between being good and simply being good enough, and Rebelstar never quite breaks out of the “good enough” territory.

Aside from Rebelstar‘s deep story mode, the game also includes a skirmish mode which allows the player to set up a quick battle as any of the game’s four races. Battles take place on any of the maps from the game’s campaign mode. The skirmish mode supports both single-player and head-to-head two-player battles. Unfortunately, the developers decided to drop the link cable support for head-to-head gameplay, so two-player games require handing off the GBA after every turn.

Rebelstar Tactical Command is a solid strategy game experience for GBA owners. Anything the game’s presentation lacks is more than made up for by the intricacies of its gameplay. Fans of the genre looking for a deeper level of strategy than in the standard GBA fare owe it to themselves to check out Rebelstar Tactical Command. Just be sure to watch for those annoying alien probes.


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