Phantom Doctrine – Xbox One Review
Phantom Doctrine will forever be known as an X-Com clone, now any game that can sit anywhere near that sort of reputation is going to be doing well for itself and clone is probably an unfair word for this game.
Set during the 1980’s cold war the game set its stall out with a spy based storyline centred around a covert agency called ‘The Cabal’
The game doesn’t tell you much about the agency you work for but allows you to choose to be either an ex-KGB or ex-CIA agent initially, further down the line after completing the campaign you will also gain access to starting as an ex-Mossad Agent too, the only difference I can see that these options give you is s slightly different view of the storyline.
For anyone who has played the X-Com series you will be right at home with the main tactical action portion of the game, the other two sections of the game are the base of operations where you will be looking after the intelligence section and tracking enemy activity.
The three sections of the game all work hand in hand with each other to give a sense of urgency with you trying to find out what your enemies are up to and beat them to it while they are also trying to find your base and shut you down.
Now as you start the game the story starts well and does draw you in initially but I found that it rapidly became a bit disjointed and struggled to keep me engaged, the intelligence that you are tasked with finding also started off very well but soon became re-runs of the same reports with just a different codename.
The tactical operations section of the game is very well put together and looks and plays like a spy version of X-Com which is a real compliment, you do have to remember though that essentially you are controlling an undercover spy cell so this is not aimed at being an all action mission style and often is aimed at being played stealthily.
When you do decide to ‘go loud’ and shoot someone or end up breaking cover for whatever reason, you very quickly regret it!
The game teaches you during the tutorials that this is slightly different as combat doesn’t rely on percentages and dice rolls, your characters instead have something called awareness which gets used up as you complete actions, take out enemies or dispose of bodies etc.
The computer controlled characters are unerring in their accuracy and many times after a simple mistake had blown my cover my characters were shot through multiple windows by enemies far away across the map, sometimes that I hadn’t even seen they were that far away.
Then there comes the enemy re-enforcements who seem to arrive a very opportune moments and positions…..for them! Again there were times where I was close to reaching the extraction point and they rocked up and blasted my agents from nowhere.
Fans of stealth based games who like the tactical strategy element will love the sneaking around the bases in disguise finding evidence and then silently escaping to the extraction point, for me the little devil on my shoulder whispering SHOOT HIM always got me in trouble.
The base of operations section of the game allows you to control your agents and assign them to missions to uncover evidence, craft equipment, interrogation or even the odd jaunt into brainwashing kidnapped enemy agents (or even friendly ones come to think of it).
It does a decent enough job of letting you see things pan out in a wider scale but sometimes can seem a little bit drawn out.
There is a multiplayer element included in the game but it does feel like it has just been thrown into the mix and not really had a lot of time allocated to its development, it allows you to face of squad versus squad but doesn’t have any sort of multiplayer options beyond host or join game not even a matchmaking system.
The game does a good job of melding the three elements together and building atmosphere in your game of cat and mouse with the enemy, yes it’s a bit light in some areas and can become a little repetitive but overall what is there is generally enjoyable, just don’t expect a true X-Com rival.
Review code generously supplied by Indigo Pearl
Developer: Creative Forge Games
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Twitter: @CFGmain @GoodShepherdEnt