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Laser Squad Nemesis: No Nonsense Review by The Holy Goat of Power 05/22/2005, 4:16pm PDT
In a nutshell:

2-player play-by-email Squad-based tactical combat with an easy interface and suprising depth.


Thinly veiled takeoff of the battle scenes from "The Teminator," "Aliens," and "Predator." Practically no plot to speak of.

Compared to other games:

The squad combat of X-Com with a touch of play-by-email chess.

Nuts and bolts:

You start out with a set number of "Force Points" that you use to buy and deploy units on the map. Once the pieces are set, both sides make their orders simultaneously and sends them (within the game) to the server. Once the server gets both players' orders, it calculates the results and e-mails a tiny results file to both players.

Instead of using the traditional "Action Points," each turn is broken down into 10 seconds. Every action you add to the unit's orders takes a small amount of time out of the turn. (Firing a shot might take 2 seconds, then running across the street 5 more seconds, etc.) Since you give orders to all your units simultaneously, the time system makes coordinated actions very easy to set up. Complicating things is the fact that every unit has a limited range of vision that is blocked by obstacles and narrows when the unit is performing an action.

After you recieve your results file, you can watch how the AI handled your orders. With no orders, units will stand their ground and fire at the closest enemy. You can order them to aim at certain areas, improving their reaction time, and if you can see the enemy, a direct-fire order gives the fastest reaction. Movement is waypoint-based and at every waypoint you can change between "keep moving," "stop if you see a new enemy," and "retreat to the last waypoint if you see a new enemy." Before you e-mail your orders in, you can run a test of your orders, (equivalent to the caltrops "preview" button) to make sure your units don't bump into each other, accidentally shoot each other, or to catch any orders that might confuse the AI.

The combination of easy controls and AI idiotproofing makes the interface entry fee very low and lets newcomers get into the real meat of outsmarting your enemy with the best tactics within their first few games. There are literally volumes written about LSN strategies.


Note: You do not know what your enemy will be when you deply and don't find out until you first make contact. This keeps you on your toes because while a tight formation of marines out in the open is great -even necessary- when fighting the spawn, it's certain death against the missile-shooting machina. Every race has several Elite league champions who favor them. I've run into nothing in my own experience to suggest any balance problems.

Laser Marines are the titular human side. They resemble a cross between imperial storm troopers and the stay-puff marshmallow man. Their advantage is highly mobile units who excel at long-range combat. Their disadvantage is being the most frail race. They're probably the most tactically versatile of all the races

Machina are the killer robots. They're bronze and kinda look like the big brute robots from attack of the clones. Their advantage is having the most highly specialized units, the best battlefield intelligence, and on average the most durable units. Their disadvantage is also having the most highly-specialized units, which can destroy their whole strategy if a couple key units are destroyed. They tend to win by slowly taking control of the whole map and trapping their enemies.

The Spawn are the Xenomorphs. While the queen is pretty nasty looking, the rest of their units are silly looking combinations of human limbs and maggot bodies. Their advantage is having on average the fastest units and, if they can manage to secure an area after a skirmish long enough for the queen to get there, expendible units. Their disadvantage is an almost total reliance on up-close bite attacks. Their best strategy is to use stealth before launching the mother of all "They're coming out of the goddamn walls!" ambushes.

Greys are the anal-probing aliens. They look like sectoids from X-Com. Their advantage is having neeto space-age technology like personal deflector shields and cloaking devices and Warp guns whose projectiles can turn corners and the most badass vehicle in the game. Their disadvantage is their weapons and deflector shields use the same power supply, so they can't handle extended combat. They tend to win by doing hit-and-fade attacks using their saucer to transport energy to and from the HQ.

Single Player:

Missions are puzzle-based and highly scripted. The player has full control over their deployment but usually are at a positional and force-point disadvantage. A good tutorial at easy difficulty and a decent "how would YOU crack this hardened fortress?" challenge at medium/hard, but by no means a substitute for multiplayer.


You can have as many games as you want running at once. A simple request using the game interface or the online forums will summon way more challengers than you were expecting. Sending orders manually is tricky and requires you to remember the game number you're playing. Watch out if you're using hotmail, it defaults to labeling LSN e-mails as junk mail. While games have a time limit, it's irritating to be one round away from victory and just have your opponent give up and stop sending orders without formally conceding.


The non-game interface is absolutely bare-bones. There is no way to preview maps before playing. You need to manually provide the numbers when doing any out-of-the-ordinary game management. Once you're in a game, you can't get back to the main menu without restarting the program. If you're running in fullscreen, the only way to close a game-in-progress is Alt-F4.

The game is designed around you double-clicking the results files to open the program and sending your orders within the game's interface. Trying to manage games yourself is possible, but way more of a headache than it needs to be. Graphics and sound effects are absolute bare bones.

The Money issue:

This game can only be played through the LSN server which charges a monthly fee. The demo lets you try 3 games (marine vs. marine only) for free. If you have an old account, do not renew it online, you'll get screwed. The best deal at the moment is the retail box version which includes the single player missions and 3 months free play (activated at your leisure) for $20. If you want to keep playing once the 3 months are up, the monthly price varies from $4-10. If you live in a dorm or with nerdy roommates, unlimited hotseat is available (no peeking!)


It's been active for years. Generally helpful. Mostly British, so expect to recieve messages saying "Cor!" instead of "Shit!" and "Bugger!" instead of "Fuck ME!"


The old X-Com or Jagged Alliance games are better Single Player alternatives. I am unaware if any other multiplayer tactical game with this game's ease-of-orders or unit balance exists.

Game's homepage
Laser Squad Nemesis: No Nonsense Review by The Holy Goat of Power 05/22/2005, 4:16pm PDT NEW
    *cough* by FABIO 05/22/2005, 7:17pm PDT NEW
        Re: *cough* by Mischief Maker 05/23/2005, 7:08pm PDT NEW
            oh Mischief by FABIO 05/23/2005, 10:11pm PDT NEW
                Order is restored, FABIO still stucks at games NT by Choson 05/24/2005, 6:44am PDT NEW
                    STUXXX NT by Choson 05/24/2005, 6:45am PDT NEW
                        Choson's cheap shot misfires, explodes in hand NT by binkbot 05/24/2005, 12:53pm PDT NEW
    continue with the current game NT by FABIO 05/24/2005, 1:07pm PDT NEW
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