Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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When it comes to iPad games, I'm definitely in favor of the "less is more" philosophy. Though the iPad is undoubtedly a sophisticated device, its hardwired computational power is still to be determined. Thus, sophisticated strategy and war games which have always enjoyed a niche on the PC have yet to make the giant leap to this new, touch-centric platform. AFTO (which stands for "Assault for the Oil") is an attempt to bring a deeper, PC-like strategic experience to the iPad. And while the attempt is a noble one, this is an experiment that needs more time in the lab.
At first glance, AFTO appears to be a pretty conventional tower defense game, an overpopulated genre on iOS devices to be sure. However, a quick trip through AFTO's extensive tutorial will quickly show you why first impressions can often be mistaken. While, yes, this is a tower defense game, it is an extraordinarily deep tower defense game, with multiple levels of development and a large variety of units to choose from. Players must use fuel carriers to transport fuel to their bases, then convert that fuel into cash to purchase weapons and upgrades before enemy units appear. If there is an area to be occupied between a full-scale RTS game and a simple tower-defense one, AFTO is clearly there.
Options abound throughout the game, from Deathmatch games to full tournaments against head-to-head opponents on the same iPad or against challenging AI. The music and sound effects are solid and the graphics make the idea of realistic desert combat seem plausible and not like a cartoon.
Earlier versions of the game had significant problems with crashing, but I am happy to say the developers have actively dealt with this issue and a new version of AFTO was pushed through to the app store in early November. The only major issues I have with this newest version of the game have more to do with gameplay mechanics than software crashes. There are a LOT of options in AFTO, and for me that is more than a little alienating. The choice of so many units is novel compared to standard tower defense games, but it can all get overwhelming pretty quickly. Cramp the screen real estate with two local players, and you've really got a possible mess on your hands.
So, the bottom line is that AFTO has a lot of potential. There is a beefy game here, full of interesting ideas that push the iPad into some new territory. If you're looking for the next stage in the development of the tower defense game, this may well be it.