Table of contents:
- Tactically shot through the wall
- Game-o-Mat 2018: This game fits you perfectly this year
- The Red Thread
- Conclusion on Phantom Doctrine
Video: Testing Phantom Doctrine: The Spy That Will Keep Me Awake Forever
As a leading agent, you will be based in the Cabal headquarters and coordinate the operations from there. Should agent "Canasta" go to Dubai and investigate there? Or is “Durand” embarking on a sabotage mission to hinder the enemies' progress? A possible new hiding spot on the map is already flashing and can be scouted out. After all, the keepers are always on your heels, so headquarters have to be relocated regularly to prevent an attack and thus the loss of valuable information or agents.
The coordination of the agents could have been a game in the style of Plague Inc. Time and resource management on the world map is so appealing. But the main part of Phantom Doctrine doesn't happen behind the desk. The agents have to go into the field to obtain information there or to switch off targets. And unfortunately Phantom Doctrine starts to weaken there.
Tactically shot through the wall
Let's take a mission as an example, in which we have to get important information from a base about an enemy agent who is operating under cover. Since your agents are on a secret mission and mostly appear in civilian clothes, they can at least stay in public buildings without danger. But the cordoned off areas in which the machinations of the beholders take place are taboo. There are two options for each mission: Either you grab your quiet kicks and sneak through the enemy lines or you shoot your agents through the areas.
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Game-o-Mat 2018: This game fits you perfectly this year
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When sneaking, everything depends on your preparation. Once you've scouted the area, additional bonuses are available. For example, rooms can be scanned by an external observer. A great feature for everyone who wants to get through the levels without any fuss. In the same train, guards are silently knocked out, cameras switched off and security systems outwitted. Of course, this brings a certain pinch of "trial and error" with it, but it is even more fun when everything opens and you can initiate the evacuation unseen.
The second option, the open fight, is unfortunately not really up to Phantom Doctrine. The firefights are more fun due to the lack of a hit probability (see XCOM), but this is immediately put down by the miserable lines of sight. During the exchange of fire, it can happen that opponents target one of your agents across the map, even though the agent is behind several walls and in full cover. The developers are already working on an improvement and have even published the first updates in this regard. These do not work one hundred percent, but at least alleviate the frustration a little.
The fights are much more difficult than in other genre representatives, and they also have to be planned precisely. If you just want to fight with your team of agents and soldiers, Phantom Doctrine is not for you. But not only when it comes to fighting and sneaking, also with the opponent rounds, which make up a large part of the round strategy, you need a lot of patience. Eternally long waiting times should also be fixed in the future with a patch - it remains to be seen whether the fights will be more pleasant to play afterwards.
The Red Thread
If a mission ends or one of the informants spits out new secrets, it goes back to headquarters. Here Phantom Doctrine shines with its own idea that fits perfectly into the setting: a pin board on which you first search through blackened dossiers for code names or locations and then connect them together. This is how aliases are cracked and the story continues. A fun mini-game that always lures when new files have arrived. Even if you quickly lose the famous common thread between the numerous connections.
This will be missing in the first few hours in Phantom Doctrine anyway. After all, the menus are nested, the skills of the agents are hidden in individual categories and the actions as well as possible extensions and trainings in the headquarters are only sparsely explained to you. Here the developers could have taken the player by the hand a little longer. However, the long settling-in period is definitely worthwhile. Because in the end there is a game in which at least I always have the feeling that I want to play “just one more round” - and still sit in front of the computer in the middle of the night to play my own agents for the next mission against the Beholder to send.
Conclusion on Phantom Doctrine
The developers of Phantom Doctrine are currently still working on making the game a good representative of its genres. The basics such as a gripping atmosphere, great management and a pinch of independence through the agent setting are definitely there. However, the makers leave the promising concept untapped by a few blemishes and quirks. Should Phantom Doctrine receive patches in the coming weeks and months that correct the lines of sight and reduce the waiting times between my own moves, then my test rating can still be corrected up one or two points.
We have even more great insider tips for you in the following article.
Start photo gallery (7 photos)
It was only after a couple of hours of trying it out that the game got me under its spell, but after that it was just as driving as I hoped. If you can overlook the quirks and take the time to get to know Phantom Doctrine little by little, you can even strike right now. I recommend everyone else to keep an eye on the developers and their social media channels. As soon as it becomes known how to fix the denounced errors, I can warmly recommend Phantom Doctrine to all strategy fans.
You will like Phantom Doctrine if you want to sneak more than shoot and tactical planning suits you.
You won't like Phantom Doctrine if you prefer to play direct XCOM confrontations or if strategy games are generally less for you.
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