THQ and developer RedLynx have excelled in bringing Games Workshop's turn-based miniature war game to PSP. Set in the far future, during a period when humans have spread across the stars, Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000, pictures humanity in a never-ending conflict with alien races and horrors unimaginable. The greatest of these enemies are the forces of Chaos, cult worshippers of unspeakable Gods, who corrupt the Imperium of humanity from within with seductive promises of power.
Squad Command focuses on this eternal struggle between the Imperium and Chaos, putting you in charge of a chapter of Space Marines sent to cleanse Ruhr III of traitorous, Chaos forces. Armed with bolter, chainsword and flame it becomes your duty to purge the war torn streets of this ravaged planet.
Taking its cue from the miniature game, Squad Command employs a turn based approach to the single player missions. These varied challenges see you taking command of six combatants, drawn from the vigilant Space Marines and Terminators to the heavily armed and armoured Dreadnought walkers and Predator tanks.
Before each mission you choose what secondary weapons to equip and the amount of ammunition to carry. The options are wide, covering everything from the most powerful close combat weapons, such as chainswords, to the most devastating of support weapons, such as lascanons. Heavier weapons and greater reserves of ammunition will encumber your troops, giving them less available action points to use each turn.
Action points are the backbone of Squad Command; every action preformed requires the expenditure of these points, which refresh with each turn. Movement, dependent on distance covered, will cost a variable number of points, while firing a weapon will cost a base amount plus any additional points spent on aiming and improving accuracy. Any unused points at the end of a turn, as long as there are enough, will be used to fire a weapon in your opponent's turn if an enemy moves into or through a field of fire.
Each mission whether storming an enemy strongpoint, purging the city streets or defending a beachhead, to name just three, presents a different challenge. This is particularly true when the enemy decides firmly to entrench themselves and wait for you to enter their field of fire. However, scripted opponents are no match for the real thing and this is where Squad Command really comes into its own. Supporting multiplayer matches in Ad Hoc and Infrastructure modes for two to eight players is the coup de grace.
Like the single player missions, turn-based gameplay continues in multiplayer but now the clock is ticking. You have just 90 seconds to conduct your actions and co-ordinate your endeavours with teammates. Quick communication is facilitated by an icon-based system. The only difficult choice is whether to fight for the Imperium or against it as the forces of Chaos.
In terms of look and feel, developer RedLynx has delivered an excellent slice of this iconic universe on PSP. From the gorgeous cutscenes to the well designed and rendered environments, you feel transported into the grim reality of 41st millennium warfare.
Squad Command presents a steep and very rewarding learning curve to the uninitiated and is a real delight for Games Workshop fans. With such an iconic setting, well supported by solid gameplay, it is one of the best tactical combat games available on PSP.