Tactical Strike packs a graphical punch and plenty of action, even if it does lack a little scope.
It’s rare to see environments as well rendered on the PSP as those found in Tactical Strike. Set in Panama, they’re varied and evocative – raids on dustbowl industrial compounds at noon, rural villages at dusk, mansion complexes by night – and they’re usually open. Your four-man team will have a selection of objectives scattered over the map, and it’s usually wise to cover the ground extensively so as not to get surprised by enemies.
After all, it’s not good to be surprised in Tactical Strike. Developer Slant Six has looked to Full Spectrum Warrior for inspiration: control of the team, which can be split into two
squads of two, is restricted to basics such as moving to specified locations and firing on targets. The player’s role, therefore, is strategic, primarily concerned with creating covering firezones: just as enemies will drop after a few well-placed shots, so will your soldiers.
The controls are well designed, with no hand-cramping button combinations, but not intended for reactive play: get into a panicked situation and chaos quickly descends.
But the main frustration is the camera, which will often require you to move your men in order to see what you need to, and flicking between teams often results in it pointing in a disorientating direction.
There’s a lot of action on offer – at around 45 minutes each, the 11 story missions are perhaps overextended for handheld play, but the game includes many more ‘instant action’ missions and fully featured online multiplayer, backed up by a multitude of weapons and equipment to suit different strategies. But it quickly feels samey. Squad members can be trained with experience points but the effects aren’t particularly obvious. It’s too easy to exploit the enemy AI, through sniping, for instance: enemies will run to where fellow foes were killed, ready to be sniped themselves. And the feeling of tactical openness is compromised by the fact that events are usually closely scripted, although it’s more organic than the logical abstractions that Full Spectrum Warrior devolved into.
It shows that a lot of investment has been put into the game: apart from being an excellent reminder of its host’s graphical oomph, Tactical Strike is engrossingly detailed and generous, if not wide, in scope.
Verdict: 7 / 10