This game definitely doesn't run on fumes,
but it might make you a bit steamed at times.
From the minds behind Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, Intelligent Systems has not been resting on its laurels recently, what, with releasing a new and successful IP on Nintendo's digital platforms with its Pushmo line of games. Now, Intelligent Systems has an even larger scale new IP on the Nintendo 3DS with the pulp comic-esque Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. Sticking to the developer's tied and true strategic roots, Intelligent Systems might just have another winner on its hands in a gameplay sense.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s story has you going through over a dozen chapters with multiple battles against an alien force that has just infiltrated and attacked the planet earth. As part of the S.T.E.A.M. squadron, also known as the Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace, your task is to obliterate this aforementioned menace from the world. The group is led by none other than 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and it features a ragtag collection of characters from famous literature, fairy tales, and folklore, such as Henry Fleming from The Red Badge of Courage, John Henry of the eponymous African-American folk tale, the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, among many others.
|Henry Fleming and John Henry spring into action.|
Not only are missions possessing a main objective to complete, but they also have some side content to them for repeated playing. Coins dropped by foes when they are defeated can not only be used for a one-time-per-save-station healing of one character or, for a greater price, the whole team, but after each chapter is complete, your total coins collected in that chapter are tallied up. It's not only fun to compete for better coin totals, but doing so unlocks new weapons and abilities at new coin plateaus. Each battle also has three hidden gears on the map to collect, which further unlocks content.
|Use your steam wisely. There's only so|
much a character can use per turn!
Before I get into that, however, let me talk about your turns and enemy turns. When it's your turn, you can switch between up to four characters, situating them around and through the map to take up (hopefully) advantageous positions in battle. Each character uses steam to move, attack, and use abilities. Every square that a character moves exhausts one slither of steam from that character. When a foe is in their sights, they can attack pending their primary or secondary weapon has the proper range. Most enemies have a weak point, which when attacked, allows for greater damage. You're able to aim and fire as each character, making it beneficial to aim for a foe's weak point. Attacking and using special abilities expends more steam than normal.
|This lion is no coward. Would a coward launch his own body|
into enemies to take them out? I don't think so.
At Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s launch, players had to sit through the enemy's turn, which had each unit of the enemy moving one at a time in a super slow fashion. This made missions where many enemies were moving one after the other last a long time. Enemy turns could last for over a minute. Now, there has been a patch which allows for the fast-forwarding of enemy turns. It's 2X the normal speed for the regular Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL, and 3X the normal speed for the New Nintendo 3DS XL. This is a remarkable improvement that made me really glad that I waited to play Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. until the game's enemy turns were sped up significantly. It makes this game so much better.
|Talk about a strawman battle!|
Still, if you need to take a breather from the steadily more arduous single player campaign, there are some versus options for players, either locally or online. There is a standard Deathmatch mode, where you and another player control a number of units on one of a number of maps available, with the goal of wiping out the other player's forces before they do the same to you. There's also a Medal match. This is a contest where two players try to collect medals, with the winner being the one who has all three in their possession. Finally, you get a nice rock-em, sock-em, gigantic Abraham Lincoln robot affair where two bots battle until one of your health bars reaches zero. Compared to the tricky single player campaign, these versus mode match types are a nice distraction and way to relax oneself.
|Each character has a special ability that they can let|
loose to try to change the tide of battle.
All things considered, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is successful as a new IP from Intelligent Systems in, yes, that the game is difficult, but it's oh-so rewarding when a tough mission is finally conquered by the player. S.T.E.A.M. features a glorious cast of characters and mythos, engaging strategic gameplay, and plenty of side content to come back to. Whether you'll want to with the rather high difficulty depends on the type of player you are. If you think you can push through the pain of retrying the same mission and getting steamed again and again, then Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is a worthy game to add to your library.
[SPC Says: B-]