App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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In the, what, like one day? In the day since this review went live, Galaxy At War Online has gone free-to-play. It was never a deciding factor in the score, so that hasn't changed, but it very well could be a deciding factor when it comes to iOS gamers trying it out which is why I wanted to let everyone know about the price change. So now that it's well and truly free there's really no reason not to give it a shot.
I don't inherently have a problem with freemium games. In fact, the most-played game on my phone (Rage of Bahamut, naturally) is free-to-play. However, when freemium title after freemium title incorporate the same underlying structure I find it more and more difficult to develop any enthusiasm for them. Unfortunately Galaxy At War Online is one such game, but even though I've essentially played it several times before I can certainly appreciate the change of scenery. Although despite a very free-to-play structure it's not actually free.
Galaxy At War Online’s gameplay has three major elements: Management, production, and combat. While taking care of things at the base players can upgrade a number of different structures, build new ones, and research new technologies; all in order to produce more resources (harvested automatically and in real time), defend against rival players, and otherwise incrementally get better at everything. Their research and resources can then be used to create or enhance a number of different ships and base defenses. Players will have to construct entire fleets of various ships that can number in the thousands, then send them off to other planets in order to (hopefully) plunder a few goods. Ever play Kingdoms of Camelot? It's pretty much the same exact thing only set in space.
The thing is, even though I've already played Galaxy At War Online several times over under different names, it's still a gameplay model that works. I've always been particularly fond of the hands-off resource accumulation as it gives me a good excuse to check back in every now and then. It's also got a number of sim elements to satisfy micromanagers and caters to both PvP and PvE fans. And despite the visuals being overrun with menus, it's still a pretty good-looking game. At least as far as the character portraits, buildings, and development icons go.
Of course, as I've said, it's a game I've played multiple times before. The only thing that really differentiates Galaxy At War from other freemium games that use the same gameplay structure (aside from not actually being free) is its aesthetics. If someone doesn't enjoy the formula, or they're burned out on other similar titles, there's not really any incentive for them to sign up for Galaxy At War Online. That said I happen to prefer the futuristic theme, and will probably keep it on my phone well after the review is finished, but it's still something to keep in mind.
Galaxy At War Online is nothing new, but how much of an issue that may be will vary from person to person. Some will take issue with the similarities, others won't want to pay $0.99 for it, and still others may consider it to be the adaptation of this particular brand of sim that they've been waiting for. Personally I'd consider myself a part of the third camp.