Version Reviewed: 1.2.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Galaxy on Fire - Alliances follows in a long line of well-established mobile games in a couple of different ways. First, Alliances is set in the same sci-fi universe of the previous two Galaxy on Fire games. Second, Alliances is a management style game the likes of which are all over the App Store. As someone who doesn't have a huge amount of familiarity or reverence for either of these mobile game establishments, I find myself compelled to keep playing Alliances primarily because the game does a great job of making players feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
At first, Alliances appears to be a pretty rote menu-based game where players build structures, apply upgrades, and so on and so forth for the sake of progression. For the most part, it appears this way because that is the game. However, with a huge galaxy of multiple planets to explore, the game allows for players to form alliances, which makes all of the relatively mindless upgrading feel much more meaningful than it would otherwise.
Upon joining an alliance, the world of Alliances really opens up. The collective action of everyone in a group can really help speed up the progression of the game while also helping form a sense of camaraderie between players. To encourage this cooperation, the game smartly includes a ton of communication tools to help players coordinate their actions. In addition, players can act as support roles to others if they choose, which allows for a diversity of play styles to emerge in a game that might otherwise demand every player to be strictly militaristic.
That being said, the gameplay can still feel like a snooze sometimes. Upgrading and expanding one's galactic reach is generally an exercise in tapping buttons and waiting for cooldown timers, and the same goes for just about anything else in the game, including combat. If players find themselves in a good and active alliance these actions feel like they have much more weight to them, particularly if the group decides they are going to declare war on another alliance, but finding that group may not be the easiest thing for all players to do.
Overall I have been having a great time with Galaxy on Fire - Alliances, but largely because I find working with my alliance to be an enjoyable experience that drives me to keep playing. I can imagine having a more negative experience with the game if I had found myself in a lesser alliance. Even if I did find myself in this situation, the game has a good set of visuals, a relatively inoffensive free-to-play model, and smart tools to encourage players to work together. For a mobile management game, there's not much more one could ask for beyond a bit more substance in the gameplay department.