Starfront – Collision™ ($2.99) by Gameloft is an iPhone/iPad RTS game whose design is strongly influenced by the PC game “Starcraft.”
There are three races, the Consortium (humans), Myriad (bugs) and Wardens (machines) corresponding to Terran, Zerg and Protoss. The game is managed through the familiar ideas of macro and micro where resources must be gathered and then spent on buildings and units to assault the enemy. The three races have their differences but are not entirely unique.
Controlling the units using the touch screen can be awkward at first but is nevertheless reliable enough to get used to. Micro is limited compared to the PC with no waypoints and a sometimes slow response time from the units. But there are rally points and the choice between patrol, attack-move, just move and focusing on an enemy unit or building.
Players can choose between the 16-level single-player campaign or jump into multiplayer. The campaign has a variety of missions including escorting a unit, defending a point of interest for a specific time, killing a certain building/base and even a tower defense map (my favorite). Be warned though, being told to destroy a base usually just means its worker-producing facility rather than every building. The campaign also includes cutscenes to further the storyline.
Multiplayer is viable as there seems to always be around 40 to 60 people playing online. You will encounter cannon rushes, proxy buildings, resource harassment and all-out max-supply armies. Supply refers to the number of units that may be produced. The cap starts at 24 but with two upgrades may become 40 which feels comfortable for a game of this small magnitude.
Multiplayer includes ranked 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 matches as well as unranked custom and free-for-all matches. Ranks include at least Bronze, Silver and Gold with the highest ranked players’ scores being shown online.
Once the action is over and the dust has settled, you have the option to save the replay which can be found under Action TV on the main menu. After all, you aren’t really enjoying an RTS unless you’re kicking yourself over all the things you could have done differently.
Graphics are clear and crisp but the important point to note is that all units are visually distinct and easy to recognize.
The difficulty of the campaign makes it a fun challenge, a given map should not need more than two attempts. However, it is the multiplayer feature which lends extended life to the game.
RTS games are best enjoyed on the PC but if an iPhone is all you have access to, Starfront: Collision will definitely keep you sated.