Gameloft are trying to take over the games section of the App Store. No, they really are.
Starfront Collision is an unashamed take on the Starcraft series, itself a product of the classic RTS genre. Just like Blizzard’s classic PC title, the game pitches 3 species against each other in a bid to control a planet’s resources.
Humans, the insect Myriad, and some cyborg-type creatures called Wardens all want to harvest the Xenodium in the ground and will do anything to get it. Taking control of one of the 3 factions in the campaign mode will see you take on missions as varied as rescuing scientists, outlasting an enemy attack and infecting the enemy. It helps to keep the game varied and provides some interesting changes of pace.
Building bases and balancing resources goes hand in hand with exploration and using scouts to scan the area before sending in the heavy duty guns. while some levels can be played by going in with all guns blazing, many require you to think about how to attack and to plan your resources well enough to survive the relentless onslaught of the enemy once you find them.
All of this would be nothing if it wasn’t for the control system, the key to any RTS. Luckily, Gameloft have had plenty of practice with all types of iOS controls and their touch based controls here make the game a joy to play. Boxes can be drawn to highlight groups, patrol lines are created so you can leave troops in an area while you go off and do something else and menus can be flicked through in seconds, ideal for when you’re under attack.
The game looks the part too. Crisp HD characters and vehicles move realistically across the huge roaming maps and the varied scenery over the 5 environments is impressively detailed, especially when using a 4thGeneration device. Battles play out in realtime as you watch your troops defeat the enemy or get senselessly destroyed in the process. Only when it comes to finding a specific vehicle over the expansive maps does playing the game on a small screen become more of a problem but, in all fairness, an iPad version would be the only way to solve this hardware-based issue.
Once you’ve played through the 20 levels on offer in Campaign mode there is still plenty to do. Multiplayer is well catered for, using the tried and tested Gameloft Live system. You get the choice of playing local or online in impressive 1v1 or 2v2 matches with up to 4 players. These can sometimes get very frantic and human players certainly make for a far greater challenge than their AI counterparts.
Skirmish is available for those who don’t want to play multiplayer against human opponents, taking a similar approach but using the AI for the enemy. This allows you to set many different parameters for play, all of which means that you can come back to the game time and again.
Although Starfront is nothing new in terms of gameplay, it’s certainly the best RTS the iPhone has ever seen and takes the strategy genre to a new height. Gameloft have created a game that any strategy fan will feel right at home with and one that oozes quality throughout.