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Starfront – Collision Review
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Starfront -- Collision, Gameloft’s homage to the Stafcraft RTS series, is available from the app store. Featuring a clever touch control system, a crisp and detailed interface, a robust single-player campaign, an awesome multiplayer mode, and terrific strategic gameplay all around, Starfront -- Collision manages to fit a fully-realized RTS gem into your shirt pocket.

Starfront -- Collision Pros:

  • Terrific real-time strategy gameplay
  • Beautiful HD graphics
  • Intuitive control scheme
  • 20-mission campaign and multiplayer modes
  • Variety of unique building and unit types for each faction
  • Gameloft Live! integration

Starfront -- Collision Cons:

  • There is a lot packed into a fairly small space
  • Audio still leaves us wanting more
  • Multiplayer suffers from dropouts

Starfront -- Collision offers a 20-mission campaign (the first four are tutorial), an AI-fueled Skirmish mode, and a Multiplayer mode via online wi-fi or local wi-fi/Bluetooth. Regardless of mode, the general gameplay revolves around conflicts between 3 major factions – the Myriad, the Wardens, and the Consortium. Each group fights to collect or protect the valuable element Xenodium while defeating anyone who stands in the way. The groups maintain their own bases where you develop the necessary buildings to mine resources, create fighting troops, and power their efforts to claim the Xenodium for their own. Of course, the bulk of the game breaks down to micromanaging all aspects of your crew, including effective use of available troops, status of buildings, upgrading units, attacking/defending, etc. While there are many similarities between the three, each group is unique with respect to its buildings (8 types each) and units (10 types each). This offers certain advantages and disadvantages that can be exploited in order to achieve victory.

As interaction with this world is the focus of the game, the efficiency of the controls is key. The interactive tutorial does a great job of walking the player through the controls, leaving us confident as we are let loose to fend for ourselves. Movement is carried out by tapping a desired location for the selected unit. He will automatically move to this spot, auto-firing on any enemies that cross his path. You can also tap an enemy to engage. Use two fingers to create a rectangle encompassing several units to make  them function as one. You can also hold on a unit to select all units of the same type or tap the select all button on the screen bottom to select all of your men. Tapping and holding on-screen tells the selected unit(s) to move without firing. Building and upgrading are as easy as tapping on your HQ, a Xenodium impact site, or a power nexus and selecting the desired unit from the pop-up box. Viewing the environment uses the typical swipe-to-pan mechanic, while zooming is controlled by a slider in the lower left corner. Tapping on a spot on the mini-map will automatically take you to the targeted location. The map, like many of the menus, is easily tucked out of view when not needed.

Campaign mode allows you to take control of each of the factions for a number of missions. Mission types show good variety, requiring you to complete objectives such as rescuing, relocating, escorting, surviving, or vanquishing. We liked that we had the opportunity to delve into the nuances of each group, forcing us not to get too used to one style of play. Missions can be a bit time-consuming, so we were also glad to see several checkpoints along the way that eliminated the possibility of putting in a lot of time only to get killed and have to start all over. Fast app switching does allow us to pick up where we left off if we do need to interrupt a long session.

Multiplayer mode gives us the opportunity to abandon the AI and take on friends locally or strangers from around the globe. You receive a ranking based on your abilities, which allows you to match up with players of your same skill level. There are 5 different maps that correspond to the 5 environment types, as well as three match-up types: 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and free-for-all. The multiplayer is likely to be the major replayability draw for most gamers, though the frequency of drop outs can be somewhat frustrating. To avoid this and offer a best-of-both-worlds scenario, a Skirmish mode provides multiplayer-like gameplay against AI-controlled players. One of the coolest aspects of multiplayer mode is the ability to save and replay a video of your battles at varying speeds. You can see where you went wrong or missed opportunities to improve your future conflicts.

Graphically, the game looks really good. The HD graphics and detailed environments are beautiful, providing plenty of eye candy. The audio is clear, though most of the voices are handled with a robotic flair. The controls are intuitive and very responsive, making the game all the more inviting to experience. It’s easy to get lost in the action when you don’t have to think about what buttons to press or hammer on a button to get it to work. Replay value is very good due to the lengthy strategic missions and the multiplayer modes. We can certainly see ourselves playing this one for a while. Note: due to compatibility issues, the game will only run on 3rd and 4th gen iPod Touches, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the iPads. While it initially launched as an experimental Free+IAP game that allowed you to play the tutorial and first level before paying to unlock the rest of the game, Gameloft has since abandoned this method and now offers a full version with no IAP for the usual $6.99. Currently, Starfront is on sale for $2.99, so you should snap it up before it goes back up. Starfront -- Collision is a very impressive 5-Dimple stud.

Starfront - Collision Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-04-02T17:33:25+00:00 rating 5.0 out of 5

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