Steam Wars in Review – Steam-punk slam!

One of the earliest game genres ever dating back to 1980 and the Apple II computer were turn based artillery games. They have gone a long way since then with the famous Worms series being the true pinnacle of evolution that set the bar for many years. It’s no wonder  the genre has seen numerous reinventions on the iDevice – from the legendary WORMS (iTunes) reincarnation of the 3D Iron Sight. And today I’m going to review Steam Wars – a steam-punk look on how the genre should be approached. Feel free to discuss this review of Steam Wars in our forums.

Steam Wars is not exactly a canonical artillery game. Instead of a 2D landscape the opponents battle it out on small 3D planets. And I DO mean planets – they are spherical and you can easily end up walloping yourself on the back of the head if you overshoot your target enough. There is no backstory as such though you may choose between witty and charming British Captain Raynard or the menacing Austrian Dr. Von Austerlitz.

As I noted earlier – the most interesting feature of Steam Wars is the battlegrounds – small planets in full 3D littered with destroyable obstacles, mines, teleporters and even traps. This unconventional approach would truly require mind-numbing amount of skill to target but for the developers. Thankfully they decided to make things a bit easier and have taken the vertical angle adjustment completely out of the picture leaving us players only the horizontal direction and the shooting power to worry about. This works fairly well, though it’s still difficult to ascertain the correct fire power necessary to hit the desired spot due to the spherical nature of the backgrounds.

Now for the methods of wrecking havoc; and here Steam Wars finds itself a little short. There are only 3 weapons available – the cannon ball, missile, and satellite, the latter 2 requiring steam (also used for moving) to fire. The developers try to add some variety using powerups, but since they only make you shoot 3 cannon balls/missiles/satellites at once for a single shot it doesn’t help much. The things that does more towards making the gameplay interesting are actually situated on the planet itself. You can aim your shot to knock the opponent onto a mine or even a sucking fan for extra damage and often it is this that decides the outcome of the game.

Steam Wars has OpenFeint supported leaderboards and achievements, as well as 3 playable characters (2 of which have to be unlocked) and a quite a number of unlockable planets with varying design, size and gravity. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the one thing that is the main attraction point of artillery type games – multiplayer. Coupled with a limited range of weapons available this has an extremely negative effect on the replay value.

The graphics in Steam Wars look great – the steam-punk style has been carefully worked into every aspect of the game, from the robot design to the interface. The performance is excellent as well, even on the older 3G iPhone, though I would recommend to reboot it before playing to get the optimum feel. The music is also nicely integrated and adds to the game atmosphere.

Steam Wars is a stylish and original artillery game that finds itself short in two of the most important areas on the genre – weapons and multiplayer. It is definitely worth a look to fans of the genre or the steam-punk style, God knows there’s not enough of that. But to everybody else I would recommend to turn your attention to more polished titles.

With this I declare Steam Wars officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Steam Wars Developer: illogika
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.3 Min OS Req: 2.2.1
Price: $1.99 App Size: 25.0 MB
  • Very nice and stylish graphics
  • Original gameplay
  • OpenFeint Achievement
  • Very limited assortment of weaponry
  • No multiplayer


Checkmate! There’re loads of strategy games at the App Store and at TMA:

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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