Frozen Cortex

Stressful and violent, Frozen Cortex offers great sport and beautiful strategy.

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Frozen Cortex update adds management sim features

Mode 7 has released a free update for turn-based sci-fi American Football game Frozen Cortex that adds a management simulation.

Frozen Cortex Manager makes every player in the game a "proper entity", with statistics and injuries. You can bid on free agents and manage the salary cap, as well as set formations and simulate matches. When you simulate matches you watch the AI in a top-down view. Injuries are "mechanical failures", such as "serious head disconnection". Also included is a 90-team college league with an end-of-season tournament.

Meanwhile, the update fixes a raft of bugs and tweaks the game. For example, you can watch everything from the planning view and skip the 3D outcomes. There's also an easy mode, designed for brand new players. This lets you see the AI's plans in advance.

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Frozen Cortex review

RecommendedFrozen Cortex review

The inhuman league.

Yesterday, something beautiful happened. Luck and insight collided, and the result was spectacular.

I was playing a Knockout game against stoical old Mentor Brack of Team Redemption. His guys had the ball, and he opted for a straight run down the left side of the field, bringing other players in close to defend against any blockers. Bold stuff, but potentially dangerous. I guessed he'd spend most of his defensive energy on the first half of the journey, and I was right, I felt a real jolt of happiness as I saw his ball carrier racing to the bottom half of the field where three of my guys had gathered at the goal to greet him. The thrill of it! The thrill of a careful plan foreseen and scuppered. Even better, though, Brack's careless play meant he had left all of his team - all five of them - wallowing on the far left of the field, which gave me something you almost never see in Frozen Cortex: an open path from the bottom of the pitch to the very top, over on the right. I couldn't believe it was happening. With the ball in my hand, I raced the whole length of that field, hitting four points zones and then landing a goal. (4 x 2) + 7: a 15 point play. "I need to profoundly rethink my defence," said Brack. He wasn't wrong. In the end, I beat him 31-0. You can tell a lot about the quality of a strategy game by trying to decide if a one-sided outcome still feels fair. This felt fair.

Like Frozen Synapse, Frozen Cortex is a turn-based tactics affair in which everybody's turns play out at once. You decide on your move at your own leisure, you position your pieces, you hesitate, you commit, and then the beautiful mess you've created unfolds - your actions, your opponent's actions, the whole hilarious disaster. It's a double-blind kind of deal, I think, and the fun of this approach comes from anticipation and adaptation. It's surprisingly tense, and surprisingly involving. It cuts right to the heart of strategy gaming.

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Frozen Endzone re-named to Frozen Cortex, rejigged in large update

Frozen Endzone re-named to Frozen Cortex, rejigged in large update

"Some people thought we were making a Madden game with robots."

Futuristic strategy game Frozen Endzone has received a huge update that rebrands the game with a new name and updates many of its systems.

Re-named Frozen Cortex, the turn-based Early Access title is also now available on Mac and Linux for the first time.

Indie studio Mode 7 has upgraded the game's AI and significantly improved its loading times and frame-rate - with improvements of between 50 and 100 per cent expected on most hardware.

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Frozen Endzone beta review

Frozen Endzone beta review

Cool runnings.

Like Frozen Synapse before it, Frozen Endzone is a predict-'em-up - a primarily multiplayer strategy game of deliberately limited scope where players take their turns simultaneously, attempting to outwit, deceive and second-guess their opponent. Whereas Synapse themed its tactical trickery around squads of tooled-up door-kickers trying to gun each other down, however, Endzone brings us a glossy future sport played by hulking robots.

Endzone's virtual ball game takes its cues from that most American of footballs. Teams score points by getting the ball into their opponent's endzone through a combination of passes, runs and defensive blocking, with smaller batches of points available for either catching or running with the ball through highlighted sections of the playfield. Each game has a limited number of turns and achieving a touchdown resets the playfield with teams swapping ends. The team with the most points by the concluding turn wins the match.

It's a far more structured premise than Synapse's 'outgun your opponent's guns with your guns' approach, but there's still a lot to take in, especially if you're new to Mode 7's games. There's the simultaneous turns mechanic, of course, but also the obscure rules of the robo-sport itself. The ball carrier cannot run or pass backward, for instance, and cannot make any passes if he decides to run from the point of receiving the ball. It all means there's a substantial amount to learn before embarking upon a match, something which Endzone can't fully mitigate even with a playable tutorial and an explanatory video.

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Frozen Endzone enters open beta this month

Frozen Endzone enters open beta this month

Buy in and receive two copies of the final build.

Frozen Synapse developer Mode 7 has announced an open beta for its upcoming PC, Mac and Linux strategy title Frozen Endzone.

The public testing phase is due to launch later this month and will include a number of multiplayer modes and randomly-generated player challenges.

Anyone who buys a copy of the beta will receive Frozen Endzone's full version upon its release in 2014, along with a second key to give away to a friend.

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Frozen Endzone's about hand-crafted strategies pieced together in long thoughtful minutes and then unpicked in scrappy, tense seconds; it's about territorial scraps that reward the deep thinker who possesses vision. It's hardly strange that Mode 7's follow-up to Frozen Synapse leans so heavily on the thumping strategy of American football, then - it'd be frankly odd if it turned out to be anything else.

Here's an exclusive look at Frozen Endzone in action

VideoHere's an exclusive look at Frozen Endzone in action

Mode 7's future sports follow-up to Frozen Synapse looks sporty, futuristic in this stadium reveal.

Mode 7's revealed a new stadium for its forthcoming future sports title Frozen Endzone, with a new video showing off the latest locale to join the game.

The stadium's more industrial than the one highlighted in the very first look at Frozen Endzone, and it's going to be the home ground of Heavy Perspective, one of the teams featured in the game's single-player mode. "I think it looks like if a football pitch crashed vigorously into Quake and caused a minor seismic event: this is hopefully A Good Thing," said Mode 7's Paul Taylor. "We hope to have a variety of different stadiums in the full game.  There will also be the ability to create different sizes and shapes of pitch, which is nice."

Frozen Endzone was one of the many stars of the weekend's Rezzed show in Birmingham, and it's the long-awaited follow-up to Frozen Synapse, the 2011 PC hit that came to iPad not too long ago. Frozen Endzone's currently down for a 2014 release on PC, and Mode 7 informed our sister site Modojo that it will be looking to get a tablet version out not long after.

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Rome 2: Total War live code demo confirmed in Rezzed developer sessions schedule

Rome 2: Total War live code demo confirmed in Rezzed developer sessions schedule

Plus timings for Project Eternity, Dreamfall Chapters, Frozen Endzone and more.

Rezzed: The PC and Indie Games Show is returning to the UK this June and in my role as curator of the developer sessions I've been beavering away over the last few months organising this year's schedule. I've got enough of it together now that I can let you know exactly when the majority of this year's sessions will take place.

A bit of background for those of you who are lost: Rezzed (tickets available at Rezzed.com) is a two-day show taking place on the weekend of 22nd/23rd June at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. Now in its second year, it allows attendees to go hands-on with the latest PC and indie games before release and - like its big brother, the Eurogamer Expo - there's also a schedule of developer sessions.

Some of the highlights of this year's schedule include Chris Avellone from Obsidian Entertainment coming over to talk Project Eternity, Red Thread Games' Ragnar Tornquist bringing Dreamfall Chapters, and another couple that I can unveil today - Mode 7 Games will be introducing Frozen Endzone at 2pm on Saturday, and Creative Assembly will be showing live code of Rome 2: Total War on stage on the Sunday.

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