Version Reviewed: 1.1.3
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
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Star Traders 4X Empires Elite is an incredibly complicated strategy game that models itself after the 4X genre (i.e. games that revolve around exploration, exploitation, expansion, and extermination). Despite being mechanically competent, the game unfortunately has too much working against it to be recommendable over similar, more successful iOS 4X games.
For those unfamiliar with 4X games, the goal of Star Traders and games like it is to create and establish a thriving civilization based on the establishment of colonies. Problems that arise in accomplishing this task can include, but are not limited to: war, outside threats, economic issues, lack of resources, or a dissatisfied populace. As the one in control of all of the game systems that can manage these situations, players need to balance growing their empire and advancing their technological progression with maintaining sustainable order across their empire.
All of this applies to Star Traders, though the setup for the game is a bit unique. Instead of starting a civilization from scratch, a large-scale universal conflict has forced a small group to the outer reaches of space to begin rebuilding and establishing a new society. This means players begin with a taste of advanced infrastructure in terms of ships, though considerable amounts of research are required before being able to create more of them.
While this setup sounds great for a 4X title, Star Traders only really manages to setup gameplay that alternates between boring and mildly interesting. The mildly interesting part of the game is the combat, which plays very much like a simplified turn-based strategy game in which players fight against the always-oppositional alien force. When players aren't defending against an outside alien threat, the only thing to do is build and research things. The game has a diplomacy element to it in terms of trading agreements, but the whole system operates exactly like planetary construction and both of those systems are hardly different from the process for researching technology.
In the end, too much of Star Traders feels repetitive. While the game has a deep tech tree, plenty of systems to manage, and seemingly everything else one might want out of a 4X game, too much of it feels the same or is poorly explained. Perhaps the game would be more enjoyable or feel like it had more nuance if the interface and tutorial systems were better implemented, but unfortunately they are not.
What's left is a game that feels like a turn-based strategy game with deep but tedious 4X elements tacked onto it. As it stands, Star Traders is hard to recommend - particularly at its asking price.