Space Station: Frontier [rating: 5/5]
As a reviewer, it’s my job to give you an honest, well-balanced, and objective preview of an application so that you can make an equally well-balanced and objective determination about a purchase. That is completely my intention in the case of Space Station: Frontier but I want to get this out of the way before I continue.
This game is awesome!
Space Station: Frontier from the Origin8 development team combines elements of the familiar RTS and tower defence game genres into a fantastic game. In Space Station: Frontier you have been assigned as the Overseer of a remote asteroid mining outpost. Your job was destined to be relatively mundane until a hostile alien species showed up for a turf war. Now you must mine crystals to both send precious resources back to an energy-starved Earth and earn credits you can use to upgrade, fortify, and arm your space station against the alien menace.
The main gameplay arc is Campaign mode. The campaign involves playing through different interconnected missions where you must mine resources to collect credits and repel the alien menace. Some sort of campaign mode is a mainstay of the RTS gaming environment and it is fully realized in Space Station: Frontier. The campaign is well thought out with difficulty and rewards growing with each successive mission. Success in the campaign also unlocks two additional modes of play; Survival and Mining.
Survival and Mining modes highlight a truly unique aspect of this game. In most RTS games, credits only exist in the context of a particular mission. You gather resources which produces credits which you spend in turn on various game units. The credits earned only exist in the mission so when the mission is over the credits go away. In Space Station: Frontier credits earned are carried over between missions and additional credits can be earned in the unlocked Survival and Mining modes. I really like this feature because the additional modes of play give variety to the game while adding to the overall Campaign mode experience.
Credits earned in all three modes are spent in the Shipyard to upgrade your space station. Credits can be spent on tactical upgrades like improved lasers and missiles or strategic upgrades like increased power production and storage capacity or repair robots. As with any RTS or tower building game, a balanced approach is best. You need lots of weapons to repel the invaders but if you run your space station low on energy all the weapons in the galaxy aren’t going to help if they don’t fire.
If you’ve played an RTS or tower building game on the iPhone then Space Station: Frontier’s interface will be more than familiar. A bar across the lower left hand of the screen displays all of the units available to the player. You start out with only power nodes and miners available and add more units by purchasing them in the Shipyard. Just above that is a counter that displays the credits currently available to the player to build units in the mission. This will increase as resources are mined and decrease as units are built. To the left of the counter are two vertical bars; the yellow bar represents the current health of the space station and the green one indicates the power available to run the miners and fire weapons. Units are built by selecting an available one from the bar and dragging on to the screen. If a green highlight appears around the unit it can be built in the selected location and a red highlight indicates it cannot be built. All units must be connected to a power node and all power nodes must ultimately link back to the station.
I sort of tipped my hand earlier to my impressions of this game earlier. I found this game to be one of the most enjoyable and replayable games I’ve found for the iPhone. Gameplay is engaging, the interface is familiar, and there is plenty of opportunity to vary the in-game experience through the two additional play modes available. Space Station: Frontier supports the OpenFeint social gaming platform with a set of achievements, global high scores and the ability to post and compare achievements with friends and other game players. This game was as complete a package as I’ve found yet in the App Store. It may be a bit premature to talk about games of the year when its only January 4th but if Space Station: Frontier is not one of them I will be greatly surprised. Spend the money for this game, it will be worth it.
With all of that said, the only suggestion I’d make for improvement is to take the lock off the additional play modes. Although I understand and appreciate why the locks are there, I think it would make the game that much more varied and engaging if Survival and Mining modes were immediately playable.
Price: $2.99 as of Jan 04 (iTunes Store URL)
Version reviewed 1.0.0
- Excellent campaign gameplay
- Additional modes vary the gaming experience
- Familiar gaming experience with unique twists
- OpenFeint social gaming support.
The Not So Good
- Locked game modes should be freely available
Reviewed by: Erin Peterson
Space Station: Frontier for iPhone/iPod touch