If you never played the original Frozen Synapse, then you missed out on a unique and spectacular PC multiplayer experience. Frozen Synapse Prime is a complete re-haul of the original concept with some new features added in, but does this new version live up to its predecessor? While inherently a tactics game, it’s unlike any other game in the genre. While the original was a multiplayer only experience, Prime adds in single player modes that allow you to play the game any way you want. The single player campaign is a really well made addition to the game. The story follows that of a dystopian cyber punk future where you control a rebel faction trying to take down the establishment. Each mission offers different objectives that force you into playing differently and expanding your abilities. Each mission gets a little more challenging whether you are trying to eliminate all other opponents, defend an area, or reach a certain point on the map.
If you don’t want to play campaign missions with designated objectives, the game offers a skirmish mode with randomly generated levels and character placement to satisfy your desire for mayhem. The skirmish mode really is an ideal mode for this game and is just as addicting as it was in games like Command & Conquer. You can spend hours with this one mode and have a variety of experiences, all of which involve good old fashioned fun. As with the previous version of the game, multiplayer is still a large factor. The benefit the first Frozen Synapse had was its asynchronous multiplayer, so you were not required to be online at the same time as your opponent and could play at your own pace. You were free to make your moves and log out, only to come back later and see your opponent’s moves and the outcome. This remains the same in Frozen Synapse Prime and is perfect for a handheld game. Since a lot of people won’t be playing in long stretches, it’s perfect to log in and play whenever you want.
The game itself is tactics based. You move your characters around a board and give commands to help benefit the outcome. Everything is turn-based so you move your characters and then your opponent moves. Actions take place whenever a character crosses another’s path. If they can see, they will shoot, and based on distance and environment you may lose a character or get lucky. To use this to your benefit you have command options such as directing which way you want your player to face, or if you want them to be standing or kneeling behind cover. It really feels like an intense game of chess on a cyberpunk themed board. However this is much more difficult than chess which is maybe the game’s biggest setback for some. Frozen Synapse has a steep learning curve if you want to get into expert level multiplayer games. Anyone can pick up the campaign and fumble their way through but it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
The game looks great and is a huge improvement over the just solid blue visuals from the original PC game was. Now there are fully rendered characters and environments, all tied together with a great cyberpunk style and some amazing music to match. The look of the game is one of my favorite improvements and everything runs really smoothly. The only downside is it may contribute to the loading times which can be a little long. And this game loads a lot. After about every turn you make there is some amount of loading and you will get quickly used to watching progress bars fill up. While it doesn’t hurt the fun of the game at all, it does slow down the pacing.
It’s hard to find a reason why anyone shouldn’t have Frozen Synapse Prime on their Vita. It’s a fantastic strategy game that will challenge you and push you to new limits. It is also one of the better playing titles on the Vita. While a lot of strategy games have been showing up on the handheld’s library, none of them are like Frozen Synapse. With only some minor hiccups in the execution, it’s a well thought out formula that produced a challenging yet fun game worth your time.