Science Fiction Real Time Strategy. A genre pretty much left untapped within the AppStore, there’s only a few titles that cover the 4X gameplay, but the ones that do are premium priced for a reason; extremely deep, intuitive user interface, hours upon hours of gameplay, endless replayabilty with almost endless results, and very strategic gameplay just to mention some biggies. Luckily for fans of the genre, Orator Games has just released Blue Libra. Not exactly a 4X game, but a mix between 4X and Galcon type gameplay gives hardcore fans of the genre something for quick plays, with more strategy and depth than any Galcon game, and new-comers to the genre something to help them get acquainted with the style. And at $0.99 ($2.99 for the HD/iPad Version), there’s pretty much no reason not to check it out.
You’ll command the last of the Libra class of carriers to avenge the fall of your home world. Your main goal? Make your way across the galaxy back to your home world, destroying anyone who stands in your way. You’ll need to produce different types of ships, and take over planets and space stations, getting rid of the opposing force in each sector, upgrading your ships and main Libra carrier with multiple upgrades available in the shop, so that you can be sure to have the power and ability to take on anything that might be thrown your way. One wrong move, and you could wind up with a loss.
As for the controls, they’re fairly intuitive. Fleets are all produced by your Libra carrier, and any planets or space stations you take over. These fleets are grouped together in a circle, and can be merged by drawing a line, which automatically snaps to a straight line, no matter how wobbly you draw it, between the two. To move a fleet, simply draw a line to the planet or station you wish to move to. You can cut a whole fleet in half by slicing it, ala Fruit Ninja, and the fleet will split in half with each half having, as close to, half of all ships as it can. This does take away a bit from the strategic element, as your groups of ships can not be split up to best serve the situation that they’re going in to, but instead give “my bigger fleet will take over your smaller fleet” gameplay. This isn’t a bad thing, exactly, as there are still times in the game where you will need to decide before hand what ships to produce to best serve the mission, and how many resources to set up building those ships, but being able to decide exactly what type of ships are sent where would have added quite a bit more strategic gameplay and depth to the game. There are obstacles in some of the sectors, like asteroid belts, which slow you down significantly, and these are best gone around if at all possible, to do this, you’ll just need to draw a line around the obstacle, and stop short of where you want to move to so that the line does not snap to a straight shot. The screen automatically pans while you’re making your line, dragging on the screen, which is very handy. You can set the pan speed in the options menu as well.
There are 15 missions leading you back to your home world, and beating a lot of them will take multiple play throughs. The difficulty curve is great, and increases at a pretty steady rate. There is no online support, but with gameplay like Blue Libra’s, there isn’t much need for GameCenter. Being able to share your final tallies, like how many total ships you lost/destroyed, how long it took you to make it back to your home world, and little stats like this would be nice, but is not really considered the end goal by fans of the genre.
Again, at $0.99, there’s very little reason not to grab it, whether you’re a hardcore 4X RTS fan, or even if you’ve never played a Sci-Fi RTS before, it stretches across a wide length of skill levels, and provides simple yet still depthy gameplay. It’s definitely a title worth checking out, and one that you can easily sink hours upon hours into.
Blue Libra gets a score of 4.5 out of 5.