In Tegel's Mercenaries you get a chance to experience what it might be like to be in control of a strike squadron filled with wildly diverse ego-oozing hired gunners. Reminds me of the Marine squad in the movie Aliens except these troops are paid mercenaries interested in one thing: payment. The game feels like a good old fashioned adventure but with specific missions which require careful planning or strategy and precise tactics to complete successfully. The game has a definitive background story based in an alternate history reality and the unique missions chosen by the designers include varied topics such as nuclear war (Canada v. United Mexican States), terrorism by an established "friendly" alien race (Chlorophants), a hostile corporate takeover of Brazil, and an imminent confrontation with a warlike race of insectoids (K'Kistics) who are threatening galactic mayhem. Well, no one said being head honcho of a mercenary force was going to be easy!
The interface used in Tegel's Mercenaries is somewhat problematical. As leader of your forces, you remain safe and sound on a command ship (mom didn't raise no dummy!) orbiting whatever heavenly body is hosting the mission du jour and have complete control over your strike squad (limited to six of the twenty for any given mission) by using a contraption called a Tactical Imaging Synthesizer and Fabricator (TISF-300) that feeds you realtime images of your squad's surface activity. Unfortunately the execution isn't always smooth and it's entirely possible for your selected character to run into walls or even another comrade and be stopped cold until you work out a better route. Time only pauses when you click on one of your troopers to give commands (attack, use, search, give, move to, circular, follow). An annoying delay occurs after giving the order as you then have to click again on the word "done" for the order to be executed. When caught up in the frenetic activity of battle this becomes a nuisance more often than not. Options to check mission, statistics, engage/disengage enemy and cancel order are part of the mix as well. Your twenty commandos each have unique characteristics (speed, strength, intelligence, loyalty, health) ranging from 0 to 100 in value that can be improved as missions and tasks are successfully completed. Skills in various areas such as weaponry, medical, computer, stealth, defense, specialized training geared to certain weapons, and mission fees can also be improved (an exception to the rule is that any mercenary rated zero in any particular skill is incapable of grasping the concept of it and will never learn it). Most weapons groups have three types each and the major groups include pistols, rifles, "burst" weapons, flame guns, and rocket launchers. Five types of explosives are available along with armor, kits, and other mercenary gear. If you can live with the aforementioned complaints, there's a fairly decent game lurking under the box cover of Tegel's Mercenaries. One final note: the Scenario Kit and Working Interface Developer (SKWID) gives you a fully functional mission builder and editor to create your own unlimited scenarios.
Graphics: Specific members of your commando troop can be a bit difficult to recognize when grouped together due to the somewhat cartoonish looking graphics. Most backgrounds are nicely drawn.
Sound: An option to toggle sound and music off is eventually appreciated.
Enjoyment: If you can get beyond the flaws, the game can be fun. The mission builder (despite it's graphics limitation) is almost as fun to play around with as the game itself. The scrolling aspect of the game is simply a quick jump from one screen to the next and prolonged and frenzied activity can make you dizzy and your eyeballs fall out and roll across the desk if not careful. Of course, that's one easy indication that you've gotten involved in the game.
Replay Value: Plenty of commandos to choose from to add a new mix to the missions each time out. Mission builder adds life to the product.
The galaxy is a rough place and nobody knows this better than General Tegel. He's heading a major offensive to destroy an alien threat known as the K'kistik. But Tegel needs soldiers. Good soldiers. So he's willing to hire anybody of any race and ship them halfway across the galaxy to get the needed missions done. The toughest soldier for any job will have to be Tegel's Mercenaries.
Tegel's Mercenaries is a top-view real-time strategy game. Assigned missions by General Tegel, the player must hire up to six soldiers from Tegel's personnel listing to take on the mission. Each comes with their own equipment which cannot be changed. During gameplay, selecting any of these soldiers, will allow orders to be issued (Move, Use, Attack, Search, Give, Follow). Each mission features it's own objectives to be completed, often with bonus opportunities to earn more money. Money is only used to keep track of the player's score and to hire tougher mercenaries from the personnel list.
The game also contains the Scenario Kit & Working Interface Developer (Skwid) allowing custom missions to be built.
Tegel's Mercenaries is the inferior prequel to Mindcraft's sci-fi tactical combat game Strike Squad. Aside from passable plot (you control a team of mercenaries working for Tegel, space-age corporate bully) and decent VGA graphics, there's really nothing else to recommend about the game. This is the same mundane tactical space man-to-man combat we've all seen too many times, except with very clunky controls and an interface that sorely lacks user friendliness of any kind. Couple that with very stupid AI, and you've got a Real Dog that's really not worth bothering with. Thank goodness Strike Squad is much better, although not by much.
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