Frozen Synapse, a popular turn-based strategy game from renowned developer Mode 7, will become a universal app and arrive on the iPhone and iPod touch at some point later this year, according to a report from Pocket Tactics. You can get the game on the iPad right now, however, and that version has received a plethora of great reviews.
Notably, the game's user interface is jam-packed on the PC version and it's already clunky on the iPad; there's just a lot of buttons and options that make the game work. It's hard to imagine Mode 7 being able to fit all of the game's buttons on such a small screen.
We'll see how it works on a 4-inch (or 3.5-inch) screen when Frozen Synapse is released for the iPhone later this year.
A number of players have been able to enjoy Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances in all its meticulously strategic glory for almost a full year now, but the experience has been tied specifically to web browsers. That’s a problem that will cease to exist in the near future.
Fans of the series should note that this isn’t a typical C&C. It’s not real-time strategy and its not divided into small half-hour long skirmishes. Each of the game’s 50,000 (that’s “fifty-thousand”) player servers houses a gigantic circular world map. Players begin on the outside and attempt to fight their way to the middle, which is far easier said than done. Simply reaching the center of the map can take months of planning and teamwork, and then there’s the matter of holding on to the bases that sit within those areas. Comparing this to the original series is sort of like comparing checkers to chess.
Tiberium Alliances is an incredibly player-driven experience. Hence the “Alliances.” NOD and GDI exist pretty much in name only here as player-formed groups can and will consist of both. Once these alliances have been established it’s up to the participants to figure everything out. Who wants to play the heavy hitter? Who wants to act as support? When will so-and-so be on so that you can coordinate an attack against a nearby enemy outpost in order to take it over and gain its bonuses for your alliance? There’s a ridiculous amount of strategy to be found if players are willing to travel deep enough into the rabbit hole.
Combat is also a rather involved affair with specific units gaining an automatic advantage over specific defenses and vice-versa. By the same token, different buildings within a base have different levels of importance in a fight. The Defense Facility, for example, will repair other buildings over time. Take it out and the base will take a while to get back to full strength. Or there’s always the Construction Yard. Kill that and the base is toast regardless. Of course not all bases can be overrun in a single attack, which is why it’s vital to communicate with other alliance members and really plan complex maneuvers ahead of time.
The overall experience is largely unchanged from the browser-based version, with the exception of a new touch-based interface. However, once the iOS version is released Tiberium Alliances will be totally cross-platform with players able to manage their bases and assemble armies on their computer, then immediately jump in where they left off on their mobile devices if need be. Which will be a boon for any serious players as the community is looking pretty intense and involved. In a good way.
Anyone interested in checking out Tiberium Alliances can do so right now through their web browser, of course. But in another month or so the entire life devouring, free-to-play strategy monster will go cross platform. And then there won’t be anywhere left to hide.
Did the Battleship movie get you all pumped up and ready to take on some hostile aliens? Yeah, me neither. In fact it was fairly unimpressive. ClassicBattleship, on the other hand, is all kinds of alright. EA Mobile’s upcoming Battleship Airstrike looks to sit somewhere in the middle, containing the spirit of the classic board game and coupling it with a faster-paced asynchronous multiplayer experience.
Imagine a typical game of Battleship. Each player takes their turn one shot at a time, trying to find their opponent and sink their fleet before they meet a similar fate. Battleship Airstrike ratchets the formula up a bit by allowing players to take multiple shots per turn. In addition to that, special limited use shots can be purchased with money earned through play in order to gain some possible advantages. Advantages such as destroying a ship with a single hit or deploying a kind of artillery sonar that doesn’t cause damage but will reveal vessel locations within a certain number of tiles.
Once a turn is completed - which may consist of several strategic bombings and even paying for repairs on your own damaged (damaged, not destroyed) ships - it’s all submitted to the servers and the opposition is alerted. Typical asynchronous multiplayer stuff, really. It’s more the mold-breaking multi shot turns and special shells (not to mention the possibility of repairs!) that make Battleship Airstrike enticing.
Battleship Airstrike should be out sometime this fall.
When I first reviewed Aliens Versus Humans I found it to be full of promise, but the lack of a Geoscape and base maintenance of any kind sapped some of my enjoyment. What’s already there is great stuff, but in the back of my mind - and most likely in the back of everyone else’s - it just wasn’t the complete experience. However, Leisurerules has been hard at work since the initial release and are preparing to hit the App Store with their 2.0 update early next month. Just in time for XCOM: Enemy Unknown if all goes to plan. I’ve had the fortune of being able to check it out early, and I can honestly say it’s not going to disappoint.
So why is Aliens Versus Humans 2.0 special enough to warrant such attention? Because it’s essentially a totally different game. The original AvH missions are being sectioned off as “Training Missions,” while the real meat of the game has been designated “Onslaught.” In Onslaught players can expect the kind of portable X-COM experience they’ve always wanted. The Geoscape, ‘pedia, recruitment, research, staffing, manufacturing, and base construction (with multiple bases) is all present and accounted for. It’s practically perfect X-COM in all its immaculate and frustrating glory, only now you can play it whenever and wherever you want. And I helped.
Jim Coughley (coding, artwork, sound, music, testing), contacted me after my review of AvH had gone live, we had a brief back-and-forth regarding our mutual love of the original series and thoughts about what AvH could use in terms of various improvements, then before I knew it I was asked to help out as an advisor for future versions. In other words I take a look at various builds and offer feedback. According to Jim, this was largely due to my love of the series as well as the way I “…didn't hold back in [my] comments and criticisms and [my] feedback came with sound reasoning…” And now I take a moment to blush (seriously). The lack of a Geoscape was a major (and fairly obvious) issue but we’ve also discussed smaller things like interface tweaks and menu layouts. As someone who loves video games, and especially X-COM, this has been an awesome and surreal experience all-around.
I’m obviously proud (and possibly a little biased) about how Aliens Versus Humans is turning out, but that shouldn’t keep you X-COM fans from checking it out. It really is fantastic and once the 2.0 update goes live it should fill that strategic alien-fighting gap quite nicely. But if you’re still not sure there’s always the free version, limited to early missions only and no Onslaught mode, to try out which is slated for the same release window as 2.0 (early October).