We need a leader. We have many missions to complete. We have to assassinate leaders of our
aggressors, we have to destroy heavily guarded installations. We have many enemies, and they are not all
human. We need to cross alien landscapes, over rocky surfaces, through vast subterranean caverns and
across insect infested swamps. We need help. We need a leader. -From the game ad.
Laser Squad is a futuristic head-to-head, "hot seat" strategy game, in which two players take turns moving their team (usually five to eight men or robot units) towards their objective, which is usually, but not always, the extermination of the opposing team. There are several scenarios in Laser Squad, ranging from the assassination of a company boss to an alien invasion. The scenarios may be played either by a solo player against the computer or by two humans. The solo player always plays the same role, typically the "good guys", so if you get tired of the view, you'll need to find a friend to play against. Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum versions were developed by Mythos Games, others (Amiga, Atari ST, PC) by Krisalis Software and were first published in 1988.
The game is of the top-down, turn based type. When playing against computer you see a blank screen when it plans it's moves, with a friend as your opponent you have to look away from the screen while his turn lasts (cheaters will be persecuted). The gameplay is not an easy one to learn as there are tons of features to master: weapons selection, armour selection, squad deployment strategies, Action Points, opportunity fire etc. I will tackle the most essential points of the gameplay here and leave the rest for yourself to find out. Any moves and tasks you perform in the game take a toll on your Action Points allowance. When all your unit's APs are used, you must wait until the next turn to get a chance to move it again. If you save at least half of the total AP amount of the specific unit, it will get a chance for opportunity fire. This means that if the unit spots an enemy on your opponent's turn (your opponent moves one of his units to your soldier's line of sight), your unit is allowed to fire the first shot. Opportunity fire may save you from really tricky situations so you should definitely save your APs for it. Selecting the right weapons helps to accomplish your mission too, some are more effective, lighter to carry or more accurate than others. The first scenario, The Assassins, is a good mission to start from, the map is small and the objective is straightforward. Arm your personnel and give them droids hell!
See Laser Squad Scenarios for more information about the missions.
The game is best played against a friend and the Commodore 64 version is still the one I prefer. The Amiga and PC versions do have better graphics and sound but the game interface is, especially on PC, too "user friendly", making simple tasks like the weapons/armour selection a really slow process. I may not be a strategy game freak but Laser Squad still ranks very well in my all-time Hall of Fame of Computer Games. Consider it definitely recommended. If you like Laser Squad, you should also check out Lords of Chaos which is uses the same "engine" with some improvements and is set in a world of wizards, dragons and magic. BTW, you may have noticed that Laser Squad and UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-COM: UFO Defence in the US) have lots of things in common? The reason is that both were developed by Julian and Nick Gollop, the founders of Mythos Games.