War is a nasty business and should never be glamourized, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t be used for videogame inspiration. Countless titles over the years have allowed gamers across the world to wage conflicts against one another, and Phaser Lock Interactive’s latest Final Assault encourages plenty of tactical thinking this new tabletop style experience that’s as much a puzzle as it is arcade action.
Final Assault takes the idea of those miniature army models you used to play with as a kid, taking up the living room floor for everyone to trip over, and makes them interactive, with all the explosions, gunfire and shouting you’d expect of a battlefield with two enemies going for each-others thoughts.
Whatever the gameplay mode – and there are a few – battles are a 1 vs 1 fight across a mixture of European battlefields as Final Assault is set in World War II. None of the locations are dynamic in the way that buildings can be destroyed or craters suddenly appear when a shell lands which is a bit of a shame but in no way a detriment to the actual gameplay itself – it just would’ve been awesome to see the scars of battle as each mission plays out.
With single-player options such as campaign and skirmish followed by multiplayer modes, there isn’t any lack of options when it comes to Final Assault. Military divisions help to further diversify the gameplay with each commander having access to their own particular special weapons, whether that’s long-range missiles, enormous tanks, or aerial superiority for example. You can even go so far as to customise your troops with new colours and flags should you really want to stand out from the crowd.
The actual mechanics used during each battle are easily picked up, with Phaser Lock Interactive doing a commendable job of balancing the difficulty for new and seasoned players alike. All troops are introduced to the battlefield by dragging and dropping them from a clipboard in one hand. Each has a cash value with a bright green funding bar continually increasing on the left-hand side of the clipboard. You don’t need to worry about earning money as that’s automatic, just how you plan on spending it. Reinforcements at the bottom of the board are far cheaper and quicker to deploy than the costly – and far more destructive – options near the top.
Each map has particular points which can be held by either player on the lookout for an airdrop. These arrive every so often and swap between the different points. The crates dropped offer an automatic injection of cash which can often help pay for the more expensive vehicles helping push an offensive or turn a losing situation around.
Depending on how hands-on you like to get when controlling the battlefield Final Assault has an option for you. Troops can be placed anywhere on the battlefield, but each map with usually have a couple of green track marked routes for the squads to follow. This does mean you can hang back at base and just churn out men and vehicles who will automatically follow these predetermined routes to the enemy’s base. However, they will also likely get slaughtered using this war of attrition approach.
Like any fight, Final Assault gameplay is about getting stuck in and finding weaknesses. Unlike other real-time strategy (RTS) videogames where you can select whole squads, here it’s all about adjusting individual units, cherry picking when to move forward by dragging waypoints across the map. It may be at little fiddly when things get a little hectic but not so much that it becomes an annoyance.
There’s plenty to love about Final Assault. Providing a leaner less complicated approach to RTS gameplay, most fans of the genre apart from the die-hard stalwarts should find there’s enough depth and reply value to keep coming back for hours on end. Much in the same way VRFocus enjoyed Brass Tactics, Final Assault is another superb example of why table-top gaming works in VR.