I’m realizing more and more that Real-Time Strategy is a sort of niche genre. Seems the difficulty keeps a lot of gamers from diving into it, which is a shame, because, well, for one, RTS titles are a perfect fit for the iOS, and two, there’s some extremely console quality depthy gameplay to be had. One prime example of this is Omni Systems first iOS release, Eufloria. Originally released back in February of this year, Eufloria was originally only released for the iPad, but with an update that hit Thursday, the HD version was made Universal, and alongside it, an iPhone/iPod only build was also released. Luckily, the HD build is compatible with the 3rd Generation iPod Touch and up, so gamers who already own the HD version don’t need to double dip.
Starting it off, Eufloria has 3 different gameplay modes; Story Mode, Skirmish Mode and Dark Matter Mode. Story Mode includes 25 levels, and can be played on either Relaxed or Challenging difficulties. Skirmish Mode contains 8 separate arenas, and Dark Matter Mode lets you replay Story Mode levels on a harder difficulty, providing more of a challenge.
Granted, the words difficult and challenge have already been tossed around a couple times, but Eufloria is a fantastic title for newcomers to the Real-Time Strategy genre. Actually, I’d have to say that it’s probably one of the best, if not the best title for newcomers to start out with. The UI is fantastic, as the minimal graphics carry over to the controls, making it one of the simplest to control titles within the genre.
The goal of the game is to completely wipe out the opposition in each stage by taking over each asteroid that is, or can be, controlled by the enemy. To move your creatures, you’re able to either tap on the asteroid that they’re flying around, and then drag to the asteroid you want to attack, or you can tap on an asteroid, and use the icon at the bottom of the screen to enter movement mode, which lets you choose, by tapping, which asteroid you want to move to. Once you’ve got your destination selected, you’re able to alter how many creatures you send to that asteroid by dragging, counter-clockwise, in the green circle that appears. Then just hit ‘OK’. If you’d like to scout an asteroid before sending a massive amount of your creatures to it, there’s an icon at the bottom of the screen aptly named ‘X1’. This sends just one creature to the selected asteroid.
Once you have taken over an asteroid, you’re able to build trees, which sprout more creatures, or build defensive bomb type objects, by tapping on the icons at the bottom of the screen. You can also change the type of creatures that that asteroid produces by tapping on another icon, and altering the gauges for Strength, Speed and Energy. The last icon sends a beacon to another asteroid, sending all of your produced creatures straight to it.
Graphically, Eufloria is one of the more beautiful, atmospheric titles available in the AppStore. The minimal environments, matched with the fantastic ambient soundscapes create an incredibly immersive world, one that’s very easy to fall into while playing. Zooming in on the asteroids, you can watch the trees that produce your fleet grow, as well as see the bustling creatures. Zooming out leaves you with an expanded view of the environment, and little dots for your fleet. The animations are very well done, and with the amazingly simple user interface, it all fits together perfectly, and seamlessly, to create one hell of a great game.
Now that Eufloria HD is Universal, and has an iPod/iPhone only build, it’s very easy to recommend to all gamers, especially fans of the RTS genre, but even for gamers that aren’t really into strategy games. It provides a fantastic gameplay experience, and ranges from casual to hardcore, with basically endless replay value. Being one of the best RTS titles available, on any gaming platform, $4.99 for the Universal build, and $2.99 for the iPhone version is a steal. With GameCenter integration sporting 20 achievements and iCloud support, along with more levels and a new game mode or two promised with future updates, it’s definitely a game worth picking up and supporting. Here’s hoping online skirmish battles will be part of the promised updates, because right now, that really seems to be all that Eufloria is missing.
One of the best Real Time Strategy (RTS) games for the platform, Autumn Dynasty, has seen its first ever sale today (Thanks Bulkypix!) dropping its’ price from $6.99 to $2.99. Our ‘On Sale’ section is updated throughout the day with this information as well, but this game is just so awesome, I really wanted to alert you all as many places as I could!
I can’t say enough on how much this game rocks, and it has seen a few fabulous updates as of late which allows this game to be played as a casual pick-up and play, then save game, as well as game that you can sink massive amounts of time into. Something I still find myself doing, even with the plethora of new titles to the genre ever emerging. This is an iPad only game, but plays on all versions of the device.
Please check out our original review on this epic game for more information, or just do yourself favor if you are remotely interested in RTS games and hit that DL button!
Tower+Base Defense games are everywhere in the AppStore. It’s definitely a genre that has been overwhelmed with releases. With the growing capabilities of the iOS hardware as well as it’s software, this genre is finally expanding after a sort of dead period where nothing really new was hitting the gaming scene, and 3D Tower Defense titles seem to be gaining ground. The most recent TD release from the very prominent publishers over at Bulkypix is Chicken Doom. A tap-based 3D Base Defense title that has you defending a chicken in a lookout tower armed with a Gatling gun.
Chicken Doom has you playing through various environments on Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulties. Your chicken sits at the top of the screen, back in the stage a bit, while enemies come at you, appearing from the bottom of the screen. The controls are simple; Tap on an enemy to fire at them. You can also hold down on the screen to constantly fire, but this knocks out any chance of building up a combo multiplier, seriously effecting your score.
So long as you can hit enemies consecutively, without missing one or having too long of a break between hits, you’ll build up your combo, which, in-turn, seriously helps build up your score. The higher your score, the more currency, labeled as ‘Corn’, you’ll earn. Helping out with this is certain power-ups. You’ll be able to use these to increase your combo by picking up an individual enemy, and hitting them about 10 times. During this period, the action freezes, and the one enemy is the only enemy on the screen.
You’re also able to purchase and upgrade power-ups in the store. Here, you can equip up to 4 power-ups, from a TNT Barrel, which rolls down the hill, flattening all the chickens in it’s path, a Bugger power-up, which covers the chickens in goo, and slows them down, a Chicken Bomb, which burns all surrounding chickens, and more. You are able to upgrade these as well, making them stronger and stronger as you progress through the game. Items will also be unlocked as you reach achievements within the game. A huge plus here is that there are no IAPs, so the game isn’t incredibly difficult just to push you towards throwing more money at the developers. Not to say that the game is easy. It’s not.
With each of the 6 stages having 3 difficulties, Medium and Hard will offer up quite a battle. You should definitely expect to spend quite a bit of time on these, and be ready to play them more than just a couple times before you complete them, especially in the later environments, which are unlocked after you complete the beginning levels.
What really makes the game stand out is the Co-op Mode. You’re able to play every level with another player on the same device. Unfortunately, it does not support online co-op gameplay, which definitely would have made this one of the best base defense titles available in the AppStore. But it does add an extra level of fun as well as strategy to the game, which is fantastic to see within the genre.
With Chicken Doom priced at $2.99, and on sale at the moment for $0.99, it’s definitely a game that base defense fans should check out. Yet again, Bulkypix doesn’t disappoint. The tap controls could use some tightening up, and more content would be great, as right now, even though the levels offer up plenty of replay value, especially when you take into account the 12 GameCenter Leaderboards, one for each stage, as well as co-op boards, and 24 Achievements. It could use some improvements, but it’s a huge step in the right direction for the 3D Base Defense genre.
10tons has brought out some fantastic titles for the iOS gaming scene. Azkend, Joining Hands, Grim Joggers, Sparkle, and more. Boom Brigade, a tower defense/line-drawing strategy arcade title, is definitely one of my favorites from 10tons, which is kind of funny, because line-drawing games and I don’t really get along. But there’s something about Boom Brigade which just hit’s the right nerve with me. Now, I get to experience it all again. Boom Brigade 2 is finally here, and it’s everything you would expect in a sequel. The same great gameplay mechanics and type of gameplay as the original, with more of everything.
Boom Brigade is a real time strategy line drawing defense title. You might not think it, but all of those genres mashed together really seems to work out well, especially since 10tons has done such a great job with the design of the game. You’ll guide army men around the map by drawing lines for them to follow. Enemies come at you from all sides of the screen, and you need to defend your base through wave after wave.
There are two modes contained in the game, the 30 level Campaign, and a Survival Mission Mode. In the campaign mode, before each mission, you’re able to select your load outs for the givin units, and then go into battle. While you’re in battle, you’re able to pause the action with the icon in the lower left corner, and draw the lines for your men to follow along. This really helps out when the action gets hectic, and it does get very hectic. Throughout the stage, various power-ups and health containers are dropped from the sky, helping you to fend off the onslaught of aliens.
Boom Brigade’s line drawing controls are some of the best I’ve ever experienced on the touch screen. One of the things that really turns me off of line drawing games are the clumsy controls, never really drawing the line exactly where I want it to be, or not responding and cutting off halfway through a path. Here, 10tons has done an excellent job making the controls precise as well as responsive.
Graphics-wise, Boom Brigade 2 has a top/down view of the battlefield, but that doesn’t effect the gameplay like you might think. Your units are very clear, and it’s easy to tell if you’re moving your machine gunner or shot gunner, and the environments have plenty of detail. The animations also help add to the gameplay, with great death scenes and sounds, blasting the enemy away becomes very satisfying.
With 30 missions spread across 3 environments, unlockable upgrades for every character, and loads of line drawing strategy, Boom Brigade 2 is a game that’s definitely worth picking up if you’re even remotely interested in the genres. Priced at $3.99 (on sale ATM for $2.99), and Universal, as well as including GameCenter support with a whopping 11 leader boards, and 16 achievements, and a whole set of Survival Missions, there’s loads of replay value to be had.
Castle Defense titles have become a great way to grab a few minutes of defense strategy gameplay while on the go, because of the AppStore. They’re great anywhere, appeal to a wide range of players, and hit that strategic nerve a lot of us gamers have without requiring us to play through a 2 hour game, or 45 minute level. While games like Stick and Cartoon Wars pioneered the genre on the iOS, games like Legendary Wars and the Fortune series pushed it more towards the hardcore strategy gamer, and that’s where Category 5 Games most recent title, Warmongers, fits in.
Warmongers is a single screen, 5 lane defense title, which requires quite a bit of strategy to progress through. While battling it out through hundreds of levels, you’ll be able to collect coins, unlock and upgrade characters, build up powers, and select special ability giving colors for your army.
Starting off, you’ll need to play through one area, with 3 stages. Each of these stages has 3 separate battles that you’ll need to complete in order to take over the area. Once you battle your way through all 9 stages, each getting progressively harder than the last, the territory is yours. As you make your way through the territories, more and more battles are required to play through before you take the territory over.
In order to win a battle, you need to get enough of your characters over to the enemies side. At the top of the screen is a gauge, starting with each side locked at the middle. Once you get a character over to the enemies side, your gauge takes over a little bit of the enemies gauge. If they get a character over to your side, the gauge moves back. To win the battle, you need to completely own the enemies gauge. Sometimes it can take less than a minute, others, it’s an all out epic battle, going back and forth, with each side almost winning multiple times. It all depends on what characters you send out, when you send them out, what power ups you use and when, and when you use your special color ability. With each character you send out costing mana, and only 200 mana available to you at any given time, it’s usually a struggle the whole battle.
In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your characters, powers and colors. With each character, you can upgrade their level, which increases their defense, speed, and attack, or increase their attack and defense separately. You’re also able to purchase Bloodlust abilities, which are special attacks that can be used when your bloodlust gauge is filled.
There are IAPs in the shop, and with no levels being able to be replayed for extra coinage, and the pretty high cost of upgrades and character unlocks, and the difficulty brought on by only having 200 mana available to you at any given time throughout the game (with characters mana costs being between 35 and 45) it can feel like the game is pushing you towards purchasing extra coins quite a bit. This is a shame, because everything else within the game is top-notch. Unfortunately, this push to purchase extra consumable IAPs after the original purchase of the game can be a real deal breaker for many gamers.
Right now, Warmongers is having a 50% off launching sale, and the iPhone version is priced at $0.99, with the HD version priced at $1.99. Considering it’s pushed towards purchasing extra coins through IAP, having a $1.99 and $3.99 title, and not being universal, it’s a hard game to recommend. But if you’re looking for a game that pushes you towards making certain upgrades without any experimentation, and loads of challenge, and high difficulty, then Warmongers is a strategy game you’ll most likely fall in love with.
Hacking based games have always been a favorite of mine, and they really seem to fit very well on the iDevice. Hacker Evolution, Digital Heist, The Hacker, The Hack Run Trilogy… but none of these have really done for me what Introversion Software’s Uplink has done. A perfect port of the PC version, Uplink’s fantastic story, user interface, graphics, music, gameplay and paranoia are just as addictive as they were 10+ years ago using a mouse and keyboard. Though not very realistic, it captures the essence of ‘Hollywood Hacking’ like that shown in Hackers, Swordfish, Sneakers, and other ‘Hacker Inspired’ films, which makes for a much more interesting video game.
Uplink’s story revolves around the Andromeda Research Corporation, which is creating a computer virus using artificial life research that can destroy the Internet. Another company, Arunmor, is trying to create another virus that can destroy Andromeda’s virus. You’re able to choose between Arunmor and Andromeda, or you can just focus on completing every mission you can while the story goes on without you.
You start off joining the Uplink Corporation who provides work for hackers by matching missions with skill levels and providing both the hardware and software that’s needed to do the work. Once you create a user account with the company, you’ll need to prove you have what it takes to work for them by completing a test mission. You are able to activate the tutorial for this, which walks you through, step by step, showing you the basic mechanics of the game. There’s also a ‘Help’ section on the Uplink Corporation’s mainframe which gives you information about security systems and software, as well as anything else you might have questions about throughout the game.
Once you complete the test mission, you’re able to sign in to the Uplink Corporation and view the ‘Mission List’. Here is where you’ll be able to accept jobs from companies based on your user level. Completing missions raises your level and gives you credits which you can use to purchase more software and upgrade your hardware. Starting off, you’ll have a bunch of missions which have you copying and deleting files, but once you raise your level, you’ll be altering documents, destroying entire libraries of data, and even outing other hackers.
The user interface for a hacking game like Uplink is extremely important, and Introversion Software has done a great job making the game easy to navigate and understand. On the top of the screen, you’re able to see the date, and your IP address, as well as fast forward time which comes in handy if you’re waiting to have better hardware installed, or are waiting for more missions which fit your level.
There’s also a CPU Usage bar , which is pretty much like a Task Manager, showing what applications are running, and how much power they’re using. You can also send more power to a specific application, making it run faster, or take power away from one that doesn’t require as much, like your Trace_Tracker (which lets you know when you’re being traced), so that you can give more power to your file copier, password breaker, or any other applications that might need to be sped up.
In the top right corner is the world map, showing all of the networks which you can connect to. Here is where you’ll bounce different connections off of different networks, making it harder for companies to trace your IP address.
Along the bottom of the screen are your icons used for starting up applications, reading e-mails, reading your accepted missions, checking out your level, credit amount, installed software and what hardware you currently have. Tapping on the satellite in the bottom left corner pops up a menu which separates your applications by type; Utilities, Drivers, Security, Crackers, ect. To start an application, all you need to do is find it in the list, and tap on it. Once you get further along into the game and need to change information, or enter names to search for, a keyboard pops up on the bottom half of the screen. It’s responsiveness is fairly quick, so you’re never stuck waiting for the keyboard to pop up, taking up time while you’re being traced, which is great.
Uplink is priced at $4.99, and only available for the iPad. If you’re even remotely intrigued by hacking, or into hacker games, Uplink is one of the most entertaining titles, on any gaming platform, that you can check out. Sadly, there is no GameCenter integration, which means no achievements, which would have been a fantastic addition to the iOS version. A leader board for total number of completed missions would have been great to have as well. But the gameplay doesn’t suffer from the lack of a leaderboard and achievements, and still gives players the drive to keep coming back, completing more missions, and progressing further along with the plot. It’s a must get for fans of the genre, and at the current price, is a steal. Hopefully Uplink will sell well, and get some much deserved attention so that Introversion Software can port over more of their fantastic titles to the iOS. DEFCON, Darwinia and others would be fantastic on the touch screen.
The AppStore is a great place to find casual variations of more hardcore genres. In this case, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment’s Tiny Troopers, published by Chillingo, takes Real Time Strategy and makes it more approachable to the casual gaming community. Easy to use controls, simple resource management, and automatic leveling up of your characters takes a lot of the depth out of the game, but still leaves in the action filled strategy guided core of the gameplay, and these days, there’s times when that’s exactly what gamers are looking for.
Tiny Troopers gameplay can be compared to another Chillingo publication, Extraction: Project Outbreak. You’re given 30 separate missions spread across 3 chapters, each having their own objectives. To move your army men, you just need to tap where you want them to move to, and to start firing, you tap on the enemy you want to engage. Unfortunately, there’s no way to scroll out and the camera is pretty close in, making it hard to see what’s around your characters. You’re also not able to direct your characters individually, so what one does, so do the others.
As you make your way through the levels, you’ll be able to pick up grenades and RPGs which have icons in the top right corner of the screen. To use them, you need to drag the icon to the area you want to fire them. You’re not able to carry these over from mission to mission, meaning only what’s givin to you in the level is what you have to use. This does add to the strategic value later on in the game, and on harder difficulties.
You’re able to choose your difficulty Easy, Normal or Hard, before each Mission, which has a direct influence on your final score and star ranking. Like most games, Tiny Troopers levels each have 3 available stars which are dependent on your score. How many extra items you pick up within the level, intel, dog tags, and how many enemies, enemy buildings and enemy vehicles you destroy all adds to your score. There are also civilians scattered throughout the levels, and killing them subtracts from your score.
With the score that you earn, you’ll be able to use those points to purchase one time use items from the store, which you’ll be taken to before each mission. Here, you can increase your stats, or purchase specialists to help you make it through the missions. These can get pretty pricy if you decide to use them often, with the specialists cost being between 15,000 and 40,000 points, and if you don’t make it through the mission with their help, you’ll have to purchase them again when re-trying the level.
Fortunately, the stat upgrades that last one mission are not as expensive, with increases like increased range of fire, light and heavy armor, increased rate of fire and increased damage all priced between 3,000 and 6,000 points. In each mission, you can earn anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 points or more, depending on the difficulty, and how much exploration and looking around for extra items you do. You’re also able to replay missions in the Missions Mode, keep the points that you earn there and carry them over to the Campaign Mode, which makes it a lot easier to use these upgrades.
Along with all of the one time upgrades you can pick up in the store, you’re given permanent upgrades which you can purchase with Medals. Medals can only be found one time, so you’re not able to go back into Mission Mode and collect them again. The Medals are used for training of your characters, which increases their Hit Points, Rate of Fire, Shooting Range, Item Drop Rate and Shooting Damage depending on the type of training you spend your Medals on. There are IAPs within the game, but with the Missions Mode, they’re really there if you don’t want to play through Missions more than once to gain points which you can spend, or don’t want to take the time to go through the levels looking for medals to train your characters, so the game is in no way pushing players to throw down more money after the original purchase of the game.
The graphics and animations in Tiny Troopers are very well done, even though they’re kind of cartoony, the death animations for solders is great to watch, and the explosions look fantastic. There isn’t any in game music, but there is background ambience, with wind and bugs, and the effects sound nice. The music that’s for the menus fit’s the game fairly well, and adds to the military feeling of it all.
With Tiny Troopers being Universal, and having a launching sale for $2.99, it’s a great buy. Considering it’s published by Chillingo, I have no doubts that any issues that arise will be taken care of, and hopefully, the camera will be made so that it can zoom out (which is really, the only issue I’m having with the game, and it’s not that big of an issue…). With the 3 difficulties, Mission Mode, and GameCenter Support with a leader board for your total points, and 20 achievements, there’s loads of replay value, meaning Tiny Troopers has the potential to stay on your device for quite some time. It’s definitely a game you should pick up if you’re into the genre, or are looking for something along the lines of a casual RTS title.
I’m still fairly new to the 4X genre, having only been into it for the last couple years, but what I’ve played so far, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. Starbase Orion is easily one of my favorite iOS games to date, and Ascendancy, Civilization Revolution and Imperium Galactica II have totally got me hooked. Luckily for me, there were a few 4X ‘lite’ games to be found on the AppStore, and without them, I don’t think I would have gotten into the 4X genre like I have. 9 Colonies, Blue Libra and Vincere Totus Astrum played huge roles in my decent into the 4X world, and since then, I still find it hard to pass up on lite 4X titles. Astraware Limited’s Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space falls into this category of ‘4X lite’, and just like the other titles mentioned, it’s a great game to get if you’re just starting to uncover the many, many layers of the 4X genre, or even if you’re already deep into the genre, and are looking for a game that you can complete in 10-30 minutes.
There are 3 different types of campaign like scenarios in Weird Worlds which you’ll be able to play through, each depending on the type of ship you choose to command. There’s a Science Vessel, Pirate Corvette and Terran Frigate.
With the Science Vessel, your goal is to catalog and capture unknown alien lifeforms. While you’re doing this, you’ll need to also catalogue new worlds and various deep space phenomena so that the information can be added to starmaps. Playing with the Pirate Corvette will have you exploring the galaxy and grabbing anything of value; technology, artifacts, lifeforms, weapons and hostages. The Terran Frigate’s goals are to make first contact with alien lifeforms determining if they are peaceful or ready for war, as well as obtaining all of the technology and artifacts you can that might be useful to the military.
With each ship, you’re able to decide how large the map is, small, medium or large. As the galaxy gets bigger, you’ll have more time to explore the planets within it. The small map gives you 10 years, medium gives you 20 and the large map gives you 30. You must make it back to Glory, the planet you start your adventure from, before time runs out, or else the points you’ve collected while out in space will not be added to your score. You’re also able to choose the Nebula Mass, which slows down your ship dramatically, as well as the hostile alien’s combat strength.
Exploring the galaxy is simple, tap on a planet, and two taps will pop up, ‘Engage’ and ‘View’. You’re also able to see how far away the planet is, and how long it will take you to travel to it. ‘View’ gives you a little bit of information about the planet, while ‘Engage’ will have you travel there. Once you’re on the planet, if there are any available materials, weapons, other equip items like shields, star drives, propulsion systems, and loads more, as well as alien beings, plant life, technology and artifacts, you can put all of these into your cargo hold, or equip your own ship with them.
Unless you have an item which scans planets within your vicinity, you will not be able to tell if planets are occupied by alien beings or not until you land on the planet. If there are alien lifeforms, you can choose to engage them and find out if they’re hostile or friendly, or just leave them alone without finding out who or what they are. As you travel around the galaxy, you’ll also come across mercenaries which can be hired by trading them items from your cargo hold. Once you have hired them, they’ll fly alongside you in battle, helping you get out of tricky situations. You are also able to equip their ships with items found on the various planets, which does give the whole equip system some depth.
Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space is only available for the iPad, and is $4.99. It does have GameCenter support, with 3 boards for the small, medium and large sized galaxies, but does not have any achievements. Right now, Weird Worlds would be much better if it had a lot more items and aliens to come across within the galaxy as right now, it seems like after you play through the game once with each of the ships, you’ve pretty much seen everything there is to see, and all that keeps you playing is the high-score chase. Hopefully the developers have something in mind to add to the replay value. The game is solid in all other aspects. It’s a great game for those of you who are looking to get more into the 4X genre, but are finding games like Ascendancy and Starbase Orion too complex at the moment, or for 4X fans looking for a game that they can play through in short spans.
As the surprisingly long list of strategy games that are available in the AppStore keeps increasing, fans of the genre are in heaven. Strategy games are one of the few genres that completely and totally feel like they iDevice was specifically made for them. The latest Strategy title to hit my device is Brainss, developed by Lonely Few LLC. A game in which you run around a city hunting down humans and turning them into zombies.
Right off the bat, there are a couple of things that bug me about Brainsss. You can’t zoom in or out. That’s right, there’s no pinch to zoom, which can be a real hassle, especially when you’re trying to control more than one group of zombies. There’s also no way to assign zombies to a specific group. So every time you want to move a zombie, or a group of zombies, it either needs to already be selected, or you’ll need to reselect it. This, coupled with no zooming out, means you can’t corner a group of humans by moving half of your zombies to one side of a building and then moving another group to the other side without having to select the first group, move them, then pan and scroll over to the other group, make sure that they’re selected, and then scroll back to where you want them to end up, and just hope that the first group didn’t drive away the humans already so that you can tap where you want your second group to go. Confusing? Yeah, confusing, and frustrating. Especially when every other RTS game has an easy select for groups of troops, and zooming in and out, and that’s what you’re use to having at your disposal while playing.
Aside from those couple of issues, Brainsss still is fairly fun to play. The action is fast, and so long as you’re fine with moving around one huge group of zombies around the maps, and don’t care about the time limit, getting 3 stars in a level, or earning achievements, there’s some fun to be had here.
Right now, there are 5 Phases (or worlds) to play through, each having 4 different levels except for Phase 1, which has 5 and is the Tutorial Phase. Each level has an objective that you’ll need to complete in order to progress. These range from turning all humans into zombies, or finding a certain type of human, like a policeman, or scientist, and turning him into a zombie, to stopping humans from reaching a helicopter, or getting a zombie to a specific zone on the map.
Unlike other RTS titles, there are no resources to be found and used, no skirmish mode, and no online multiplayer. You might want to call it a ‘RTS Lite’. And actually, as it plays right now, it’s more like an action game because it’s so difficult to use separate groups of zombies to pin down humans, and really go for achievements. However, if these issues are addressed, this could turn into a very nice strategy game. One that’s very fast moving, and will challenge you quite a bit, especially if you’re going to go for 3 stars, and going to try and snag all 70 (yes, that’s right, a whopping SEVENTY) achievements.
With the game being Universal, supporting the iPad 3 Retina display, having fantastic graphics, and great comic strips that you can unlock as you progress through the levels, as well as the promise of new levels released “each week”, $2.99 isn’t a bad price at all. I just hope that the developers include some of these features that are typical of most strategy games in one of their soon to come updates.
Strategy titles have found a new home, it seems, on the touch screen of the iDevice. More and more real time, turn based, and 4X strategy titles, along with board games are finding their way into the AppStore, taking full advantage of the multitouch screen. FDG has brought Tentacle Wars, the Flash game available from Lumarama, to the iPad, and it feels like the game was specifically made to be played on the touch screen platform.
Tentacle Wars looks a lot like a Galcon clone on the surface, but once you get into it, the depth starts to show. You’ll need to take control of cells inside an infected alien organism by branching out, and using tentacles to connect from cell to cell. Each cell that you have control of is only allowed a certain number of tentacles, so deciding which cells to attach to is very important.
To connect to another cell, you need to make sure you have enough energy in your starting cell. Each link in your tentacle requires energy, so if you don’t have enough, you won’t be able to make a tentacle long enough to connect. Once you do connect, depending on your situation, you can either sit there and feed energy into the cell, or cut your tentacle and send all of the links, and their energy into the cell, which is much quicker.
Connecting to an enemy cell will start feeding energy into it right away. If you have enough links and the enemy cell is low enough on energy, you can cut the tentacle, and send all of the links into the cell, taking it over. If the enemy cell has enough energy to make a tentacle, it will almost always battle it out by sending a tentacle back towards you. This sends half of your tentacle back to your cell, and you’ll send energy through the tentacle until either cell runs out of energy. The cell left wins, and gets both cells. To complete each mission, you will need to form a strategy and pull it off fairly quickly, or else you’ll be overrun by the invading cell in no time. You should be able to complete each mission with plenty of time left. If you’re cutting it close, chances are you should rethink your strategy. As you progress through the game, you’ll come across different enemies which are more intelligent, but the rise in difficulty is handled very well. There are no crazy difficulty spikes.
Throughout the 40 campaign missions, there are some stages with empty cells that you’ll be fighting to take over, barriers blocking your way so that you can’t connect directly with another cell, and multiple infections fighting for control of the area. Each mission has a 3 star rating system based on how much energy you have at the end of the stage, and how quickly you complete the mission. The number of swipes you make is listed as well, but has no effect on how many stars you receive.
There are two organisms to try and save, each having 20 missions. The mission selection screen shows a path of cells, with some branching off to other areas. This opens up two or three different missions, so if you’re having trouble with one mission, you almost always have the option to play others, and come back to missions you’re having a hard time with later on.
There’s also a Multiplayer Mode, which matches you up through GameCenter, and has you battle over an arena. It’s just like completing a mission level, with the objective being to take over all of the enemy’s cells. I was really surprised at how many people were playing online. It only took between 5 and 10 seconds to be matched up every time I went looking for a match.
The controls in Tentacle Wars are flawless. To connect two cells, you just draw a path from one to the other. Tentacles are cut by swiping a line through them, and will be cut right where you swipe. Since those are the only controls you have, keeping an eye on all of the cells, and quickly deciding what to do next is never hindered by imprecise or unresponsive controls.
To further draw you in, the graphics, animations, and environments are fantastic. Graphics wise, it does look a lot like Galcon, but under the cells, there’s a black and white background with various moving cells and other objects, which definitely gives the feeling of being deep inside an organism. Completing the atmosphere is the music. Taken from www.strategicmusic.com, it’s some of the best background music I’ve heard in an iOS game, and fits perfectly with the game’s graphics and feeling.
Tentacle Wars is only available for the iPad, but FDG is working on making an iPhone version as well. Priced at $2.99, having a great challenging campaign mode, with more organisms to save coming in future updates, and a multiplayer mode that gives the game endless replay value, it’s a great buy for fans of strategy games. There’s also GameCenter support with two leader boards, one for your total campaign score, and another for the total number of multiplayer wins, and 11 achievements most of which having to do with multiplayer battles. This also offers up quite a bit of replay value even if you’re not too keen on playing online. FDG has done a wonderful job porting this flash game to the iOS. I’m pretty excited to get into the future levels, and sink more time into the multiplayer battles. Tentacle Wars is definitely a game that will be staying on my iPad for a long, long time.