The Redheaded Stepchild of X-Com
Rebelstar: Tactical Command is a turn-based strategy game from the creator of X-Com UFO Defense. It is like X-Com in many ways but is it’s own game. However, it is so similar they are hard to not compare. So is Rebelstar a good enough game to stand on it’s own feet? The answer is yes. But if you’re expecting another X-Com you will probably be let down.
The year is 2117 and a race of aliens known as Arelians have already invaded the planet earth and enslaved them all, planting chips in their brains to track them. The game then introduces you to Jorel, a young man who had his parents taken by the aliens when he was young. He is a special human able to resist the powers of the implant and also has visions of some of the aliens as if he could communicate with them. He then decides to join the Rebel forces and soon becomes the leader of this squad. The game is very much story driven unlike X-Com where you just did mission after mission. In Rebelstar you go from area to area which progresses the story until you reach the end of the game and that’s it. It will probably take around 30 hours maybe to complete. After that you can play skirmishes but they are basically the story levels all over again.
In the game you command a squad of soldiers, just like X-Com, but you’re limited to who you can take in every mission. Also it goes without saying that everything from X-com from building bases and facilities to recruiting soldiers and researching new weapons are not in this game. In this game you use the same characters (who don’t die like in X-Com) and you level them up bit by bit through the game. You must level your character wisely because there are a lot of useless weapons in the game. Pistols, close combat weapons, smoke grenades, and stun weapons are pretty much useless. Some characters are supposed to be a certain way (like stealth) but in this game stealth is kind of worthless. However, unlike X-Com medikits have a little more value in this game. Combat is pretty similar to X-Com as well, but made more difficult because your accuracy is never very high so if you aim at something you should definitely hit, such as an enemy maybe 4 feet in front of you, a lot of times you will miss. Thanks to the linear nature of the game there is no way to level grind like in other RPGs, you can’t go back to level up so for the most part you are stuck with what you have skill-wise. The game can become frustrating but for the most part it will satisfy your urge to play X-Com on the go.
The graphics abandon X-Com’s realistic setting for a friendlier more colorful cartoon world. The characters are big and easy to see and all the on-screen information is easy to see. The player characters are pretty well designed but the alien designs are kind of weak. There are only three types of aliens and three types of their equivalent to X-Com’s terror weapons, so you can expect to see many of the same enemies each level. For some reason there is a lot of slowdown in this game. I guess the levels are pretty big, but if you scroll around a bit you’ll see some slowdown. It doesn’t take away from the game but it does seem weird when you see it. The sound in the game is adequate as well. The music is pretty much a continuous loop of various songs so you’ll hear the same song over and over again. The sound effects get the job done but aren’t anything amazing either.
This game won’t dethrone the greatness of X-Com but as it’s own game it is enjoyable. It is more of an RPG than a strategy game but it is barely an RPG so it is hard to say who would enjoy it more (RPG fans or Strategy fans). There are some design choices that make the game more difficult than it should be but overall you can overlook those issues and have some fun.