This is a StarCraft clone.
You've probably figured that out from the title alone. You're not stupid. But the fact is that "clone" doesn't have to be a dirty word. Taking inspiration from successful franchises lies at the core of the games industry - and by adapting mechanics from Blizzard's exceptional strategy series, Gameloft have created a real-time tactical triumph.
The iPhone provides the perfect platform for real time strategy. Its multi-touch screen allows you to drag selection windows over specific units and make multiple selectable groups to control independently (which is a feature that most console RTS games frequently fail to deliver). Once you've selected your units, directing them is a simple matter of tapping a location or enemy to issue context-sensitive commands.
Starfront isn't fancy. It's not flashy. But it works perfectly.
Naturally there's a little base building and resource management to accomplish, which is refreshingly streamlined and hassle free. The two types of resource can be extracted simply by placing a building on them (without worrying about harvesters and suchlike). Barracks, factories and defences can be placed and accessed in a couple of quick taps... and you're set.
RTS veterans will be delighted that Starfront has included little nuances like rally points, waypoints and patrol routes - and they're as effective in battle as they are easy to set. Gameloft haven't compromised or scrimped on the detail, and their decision has paid off in spades.
As well as three meaty campaigns that focus on all three races squabbling over a rare and mystical element, we can also leap into major multiplayer battles using Gameloft Live. Each faction shares the same basic principles, meaning that there's little or no learning curve separating you from multiplayer domination. There's a huge amount of content here.
There's only one real problem. It's not a dealbreaker, but be aware the iPhone screen is unfortunately too small for such a big game. The interface can be clunky to use in pitched battles, and Starfront looks severely pixelated when blown up on the iPad. With any luck, they'll be considering an HD remix for tablets or full-blown sequel before too long.
- No-nonsense, no-compromise, no-prisoners RTS action
- Fantastic use of multi-touch
- A huge amount of content, missions and unit types
- Cluttered and cumbersome
- Looks naff on the iPad... which is sadly the best way to play it
Summary: Starfront: Collision is StarCraft on the iPhone. Which can only be a good thing. It's a quality product that deserves your time and money, though I'd recommend having a go at the free version first.
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
Price: Freemium - In-App Purchase £1.79 - App Store