REVIEW: Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command

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Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command is a squad-based tactical game very loosely based on the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop rules. True Warhammer 40,000 fans won’t be impressed until a game comes out incorporating the complete tabletop rule set and including all the armies and units, but Squad Command ain’t so bad.

Squad Command is a streamlined experience. You have 6 units in a squad and a few commands: move, attack, crouch, or overwatch. Customization is equally limited. Your units are predetermined each mission (usually 5 soldiers and a vehicle). But you can select a secondary weapon for each unit and alter its amount of ammo, affecting mobility. The extra layer of depth is appreciated, but tweaking freaks will be underwhelmed. However, Squad Command’s simplicity works in its favor—it’s fast and approachable.

Where Squad Command shines brightest are its excellent maps and cunning AI. The maps (all cityscapes) are massive, intricate, and totally destructible—full of bunkers, windows, courtyards, choke points, etc. Enemies are deviously positioned, often preset in ambushes or deeply entrenched. Still, there are always many approaches, keeping it tactical instead of puzzle-like (unlike Advanced Wars). Complimenting the maps is superb AI—incredibly aggressive, unpredictable, and able to utilize cover and destructible terrain, also fully capable of flanking and setting up ambushes.

As always, there are gripes. One: Line of sight is finicky and arbitrary. It’s annoying, but true to source. Playing Warhammer 40,000 tabletop, hours are spent arguing LOS. Two: There are only 15 missions—not a sin per se, but there is no skirmish mode for replaybility, so length might have added value.

All that aside, I liked Squad Command enough to play through a second time without losing a unit—a balls hard challenge that brought me to terms with the map design and AI. While Squad Command is short and simple, it plays like a ten squad-based games condensed together—pure and intense.

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