The smash hit TV show Falling Skies, produced by none other than Stephen Spielberg, is now into it’s fourth season with another planned for next year. Throughout that time we have seen Tom Mason (played by Er’s Noah Wyle) and his ragged band of unlikely comrades fight against the Espheni, make allies with the Volm and try their best to survive the alien induced apocalypse.
It was only a matter of time before the people behind the TV show decided it was time for a game to be made. Generally TV shows and films that are made into games can be an enormous let down, the game doesn’t allow you to use the characters you want, there is a different storyline or it is just a hurried mess trying to capitalise on the popularity of the feature on which it is based. Mostly, when it comes to games based on something we love, we want to interact with the world we know, the people we have formed attachments to and of course the trials they encounter. Falling Skies The Game is not your average ‘based on’ game.
The Game Overview
Following on from the destruction of the Espheni tower in Boston, the game follows a new path, but one that works with the storyline we are familiar with, it fills in a gap between seasons three and four.
The 2nd Mass come across a convoy that has been ambushed and meet an engineer who claims he can create a new kind of weapon to fight the alien invaders. Of course to accomplish this he needs the help of Tom and Ben, Pope, Maggie and Anthony, nothing is ever easy in a post-apocalyptic reality!
The premise of the game is to find resources such as food, medical supplies and raw materials to help grow the 2nd Mass and build this new weapon.
However, this isn’t the usual third person shooter, it is a turn based strategy RPG. Little Orbit, Bandai Namco, Torus Games and TNT have created a unique tie in to the epic show that utilises tactical thinking and game play, strategic upgrades and of course the best loved characters themselves, (voiced by the actors who play them in the show).
Fighting alongside the human resistance we are thrown right into the action packed game play with our first mission to destroy a communications tower. The controls of the game are taught to us here and whilst the game is different t many on the market, they quickly become second nature.
Each level is about planning and tactical placement of your team. Starting most levels with four men and women, (eventually upgrading to six), the objectives of the level are obtained by careful and precise movement. Keeping your team in cover and within reach of each other is key. Depending on the amount of movement each squad member makes, you will be able to move them twice, once and fight or fight twice.
After our initial foray it is back to base camp to learn the other aspects of the game.
Level selection is made in the War Room. The map randomisation and dynamic AI mean that with every new level comes a different challenge, one that is fresh and engaging. The selection screen for Squad Missions, is set out on a map and browsing through the various scenarios will inform you as to what benefits the 2nd Mass gain from completing that mission in particular. It might be more food resources or medial supplies. The objective of the mission is also laid out, along with an indication of the enemies you may face, such as harnessed kids and Skitters!
The other thing that can be done in the War Room, is to send a member of the 2nd Mass out on a Dispatch Mission. A Dispatch Mission is a hunt for extra resources and it takes one Squad Mission to accomplish. The next time you enter the War Room you are told if it was successful, what resources were found or if the person you sent needs medical attention.
This part of Base Camp is where the squad members can be customised, weapons assigned, skills upgraded and new recruits hired.
Upgrades that can be made to the 2nd Mass here include extra squad members for missions and more people to recruit. The upgrades cost Food Resources, which can be picked up from Squad Missions and Dispatch Missions.
Recruiting also costs food, but each recruit gives you a further option for missions, not to mention a fall back if one of the main squad are injured and sent to the infirmary.
Customisation is limited depending on the character you are editing. Certain sills effect what can be altered also, for example a Spiked Kid can be upgraded to have an extra slot in their utilities, giving a further option for editing. Other than that appearance can be changed to a certain extent, as can the weapons carried, armour and things like grenades.
Skills are upgraded with levels and done via a skills tree, most levels will give an option of two skills to choose between.
The Workshop is the place to go for building new weaponry and armour. Each new item must be researched before it can be constructed and this can take one Squad Mission or more, dependant on the item crafting. Everything in the Workshop costs Metal, again which can be sourced from squad and dispatch missions.
The walking wounded are sent to the Infirmary to recover, this places that squad member out of action for a number of missions. Upgrades can be made to the Infirmary to speed up recovery, make medipacks for in the field and train new staff. The upgrades here cost Medical Supplies found on missions.
A place where the fallen can be remembered.
What the game lacks in next gen graphics, it makes up for in game play, which is interesting and tactical. The added elements of building up the 2nd Mass and increasing your fire power makes the game more dynamic. Every decision you make in this game has a bearing on the outcome, one wrong move could leave you with a fallen comrade or with not enough resources to upgrade.