As someone who has been around long enough to remember a time when betas were free and pre-release demos almost guaranteed, it's a little annoying when game developers tie beta access to pre-orders. I'm tempted to forgive Frozen Synapse developer Mode 7 because the action-strategy game looks so intriguing, though. Pre-ordering gets you immediate access to the beta, which will continue to be updated with new features and bug fixes. The package costs $26 and includes a second copy you can give to a friend.
$26 is a lot to pay for an indie game, even if there's a second copy included. Still, something about the trailer is stirring. Perhaps it's the unique graphical style, the novel gameplay, or the fact that the whole thing brings back fond memories of spending hours obsessing over the perfect Rainbow 6 assault plan. Or maybe I'm just picturing SEAL Team 6 as viewed from the situation room.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun's preview of the game is pretty positive for a first impression, and Eurogamer agrees. It looks like the developers have their heads screwed on straight when it comes to DRM, too. Each user gets a unique key tied to an online account, but there's no limit to how many times you can install the game or on how many systems. You don't have to be online to play the single-player component, either. PCs and Macs are both supported, and the system requirements suggest that even modern netbooks should be able to enjoy the game.