The original Warpgate is absolutely fantastic, and let's face it, you probably know that already. It's an entire galaxy of unending adventure, heroic space battles and faction wars that will shape the destiny of the universe.
If you happen to have an iPad, however, Warpgate HD is nothing less than an essential purchase.
Warpgate HD throws you into a galaxy at war; armed with little more than a crappy little spaceship, a few credits and a pocketful of dreams. A few brief tutorials will show you the basics of exploring, fighting and making a killing on the stock market - but the game soon takes off the training wheels and unleashes you on the universe proper.
To succeed, you'll need to take missions from four major factions (that will increase or decrease your reputation with their competitors), trade commodities on the constantly-fluxing marketplace and generally enjoy the experience of being completely free to do whatever you want. There's an interesting and well-written story to be enjoyed, but frankly, only if you manage to find the time.
Navigating the galaxy is as simple as swiping vectors across the screen and clicking on planets and icons; which is an absolute breeze on the iPad. You'll feel like you're actually controlling your starship from a bridge terminal, and it's comfortable to sit back and hold the tablet on your lap for hours at a time. The graphics also really stand out on the big, luscious screen, with detailed ship models and backgrounds making the action easy on the eye.
It's difficult to overstate just how much content there is to be found here. There are dozens of star systems, hundreds of planets, infinite numbers of procedurally-generated missions and copious amounts of new ships and weapons to buy. Warpgate isn't the only game you'll ever need... but it certainly is the only game you'll need for a long time.
Rather than being a sterile and soulless experience, Freeverse have also blessed Warpgate with a snappy and hilarious personality. Planets and items have their own humorous descriptions that are as interesting to read as the game is to play - and it's chock full of references to classic science fiction franchises. Star Trek, Douglas Adams and Star Wars homages all pop up from time to time, and speaking as an old-school Bungie fan, there's a fantastic reference to Marathon Infinity that literally made my day. Be sure to visit the Tau Ceti system.
The combat system is Warpgate HD's only real failing. Hopeless accelerometer controls leave your ship sluggishly floundering around in space, while simple icons basically make you mash buttons as weapons systems power up. Galaxy On Fire 2 provide a more visceral take on space combat, but to be honest, the fighting is by far the least important aspect of an overwhelmingly deep experience.
There are also a couple of very minor niggles regarding the menus and GUI. Accessing the map, missions, market trading and equipment is all much more fiddly than it ought to be, and fails to adequately utilise the extra screen space that the iPad brings to the party. Being able to buy, sell and equip on a single screen would have been nice.
But who cares. Warpgate is an adventure that can technically last forever... and that makes you feel like a freebooter starship captain. Make it so.
- An enormous, deep and worthwhile experience
- Fantastic referential writing
- Solid visuals
- Fiddly menus
- Weak combat
- Occasional minor glitches and unfocused story missions
Summary: Warpgate HD turns your iPad into the bridge of your very own starship, and a gateway into a galaxy's worth of adventure. Engage!
Compatibility: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
Price: £4.99 - App Store