Every once in a while, a game comes along and literally tears down a genre and builds it anew, usually with a bar that is almost impossible to attain. In the genre of RTS that game was Starcraft, released by Blizzard in 1998 and still regarded as one the best strategy games of all time. Sadly, the great Blizzard has not yet graced the iOS with their attention, leaving the gap wide open for would-be upstarts to claim the Starcraft-shaped piece of pie. And unsurprisingly, the first one at it is the prolific Gameloft with Starfront – Collision™.
Starfront – Collision takes all the features of a full-blown desktop RTS and tries to fit them into your iPhone or iPod. The Consortium has just begun exploring a new planet that is riddled with meteors containing a unique and precious element, when they are faced with a problem. The natives, if the sprawling hive-mind Myriad can be called that, aren’t too happy and are determined to put a stop to the invaders. To make matters worse, an ancient race of watcher Wardens is awoken as a result of the raging battles and is now following a sinister plan of its own. Want some popcorn?
Starfront offers 20 missions split across 3 campaigns unlocked progressively, each centered around a specific race. The missions don’t offer any surprises and come in both the standard kill’em’all style and the solo stealth ones, originated back to the first Command & Conquer. The economy centers around 2 resources – Xenodium (mined from meteors) and Energy (produced by power plants, built on land like hot springs). Using the resources you can construct buildings, research and manufacture units with the ultimate goal of wiping out the opposition.
The three races strive to recapture the unique balance of Starcraft, and it is apparent that Gameloft has attempted to mimic Blizzard’s winning formula. The parallels are immediately visible, but whether because of the simplifications required by the platform or something else, the races lose all the unique gameplay elements that made them truly different, keeping only the visual differences. Each has the same structures (save for the look) with similar tech trees and almost back-to-back units. A good feature is the capping of the total maximum amount of units a faction may have, nudging the players to be at least a bit more careful in their army build-up.
Now we come to the fun part: the graphics and interface section. Let’s start with the former; the visuals are truly stunning. The environment is lush and colorful, the units are excellently modeled and the visual effects are on par with many of later desktop RTS games. The controls… not so much. First of all, there is no pause function that will allow players to pan around the map to manage their unit. I would understand removing it for multiplayer, but for single games it’s absolutely essential for any RTS on the iPhone (especially considering how much scrolling around you have to do due to smaller screen). And forget about the idea of keeping even the remotest control on the battles – your best bet is to construct a decently balanced army and hope they will overcome the opposition.
If you were hoping for iStarcraft – think again. And it’s not even the gameplay, as for sure concessions had to be made both to adapt the genre to the iDevice and avoid infringement lawsuits. Without such a simple feature as a pause button to help manage skirmishes more effectively, there is absolutely no way an RTS game would work satisfactory on an iPhone. But if you’re determined to play one, Starfront – Collision is undisputedly the best real-time strategy game on the App Store, complete with a full campaign, three visually distinct races, gorgeous graphics and online multiplayer.
With this I declare Starfront – Collision™ officially touched!
|Title:||Starfront – Collision™||Developer:||Gameloft|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.0.0||Min OS Req:||3.1.3|