MMObility: Line of Defense Tactics is a fun start for an IP

Line of Defense Tactics screenshot

Line of Defense is an upcoming MMOFPS created by 3000AD. It looks like an interesting twist on the shooter genre, complete with large battles and vehicles to control. It offers only a beta sign-up right now, so if you are interested in diving into the LoD universe, you can download the newly released Line of Defense Tactics standalone game. It's not an MMO, but it still introduces players to the IP. If you're a fan of real-time turn-based combat and challenging gameplay, you might want to give it a go on your portable device or PC.

I downloaded a version of Tactics from Steam and tried it on my Android tablet as well. Both experiences felt pretty much the same, and my game save synced between both devices easily. Today I am going to cover the mobile version mostly, but it should be noted that the PC version looks and acts pretty much identically.

Line of Defense Tactics screenshot

The game will start you off in charge of a small squad of class-based soldiers; you'll be sent into different locales to complete missions. Eventually you'll take charge of massive spaceships and ground vehicles, but the game does a nice job of keeping the controls pretty much universal and familiar between all modes. Your team is made up of four basic types: a gunner, a heavy weapons specialist, a useful medic, and a sniper.

Controlling the squad is easy enough; you simply touch on a blank area of the screen and instruct the team to move in sync or individually. You can also tell your team to move in a stealthy mode (at no penalty other than speed) and have it take cover. Cover is marked by yellow indicators on the screen, and if you are having a hard time finding a place to hide, you can also tell your team to find cover for itself. This doesn't always work out, especially when a squad member runs into the middle of the enemy in order to duck, but it's a nice option to have. You'll also earn experience as you go along and can use those points to unlock new weapons or items for your squad to use. It's very simply done, but that's a good thing.

Controls work pretty well on the touchscreen, but they are definitely not perfect. Attempts to select one squad member can be interrupted by the presence of another, and bringing up the individual squad member's icon list can sometimes be tricky. It's easiest (but not always fastest) to select each squad member's portrait on the right side of the screen, but it doesn't feel as intuitive as clicking on the on-screen character. Even with these issues, the touchscreen works very well for the game, and I'd like to see more games simplify and streamline gameplay as LoDT does. In fact, the game seems remarkably simple at first, but within the first three or four missions, it's obvious that gameplay will be tough.

I do wonder if the game's early play will be too tough for some. While I was certainly able to press through the missions simply by repeating them, I could see someone becoming frustrated because he got to nearly the end of a mission only to find an overwhelming, hidden cache of enemies that made victory seemingly impossible. It's very hard to do a perfect job when the game seems to throw unknown mechanics at you out of the blue. Still, it's refreshing that the game doesn't just hand-hold the player or start asking for energy refills or in-game purchases. This game can be tough, but if you pay attention to each squad member or ship ability, you can mow down most enemies easily.

I liked the fact that it offers a decent array of tactics -- from space warfare management to healing a teammate -- within a very small space. All of the fat is trimmed from this game, including its graphics. The game looks fine, don't get me wrong, but it's nothing too fancy. This could be good for those with older devices or PCs, and it isn't so primitive that it looks bad. LoDT reminded me of those good-old Warhammer 40k tabletop simulation games from years back, the ones that were tough but fun and repeatable.

The best moments in the game are spent while controlling your squad of four soldiers. That's a good sign that the MMO might offer something that we haven't seen in an MMOFPS yet. The other content, like the space fighting, felt more sluggish and predictable. Sure, I love that I was able to control a massive battleship and could select different weapons like missiles and gun batteries, but the openness of space was sort of betrayed by the linear movement. I'd like to see more strategic moments during space combat, or at least as much as you find during ground combat.

LoDT is a lot of fun and works well on tablets. It's nice to be able to jump on the PC version to pick up where I left off, and the universal and familiar controls make the game fun to play. With a few tweaks to the game it could be one of the best real-time squad-based RTS titles I've played in a while.

Now, about that MMO?

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.