Game Over Online ~ Space Tactics

GameOver Game Reviews - Space Tactics (c) ZIOSoft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Space Tactics (c) ZIOSoft
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 84%
Date Published Monday, January 28th, 2002 at 12:43 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

ZioSoft's Space Tactics has the pedigree and description of a real-time strategy game but in actuality, it features turn-based action in a Battleship-style setting. You select amongst three different races, Stout, Draco and of course our very own Earth. Each of the races has a slightly different armada and attributes that are unique to them. Like Battleship, there is a set-up phase where you must line up your ships (of varying dimensions according to your race) in preparation for an attack. Afterwards, the game proceeds in a pseudo simultaneous turn mode. You select on a grid in the top left corner the areas you'd like to strike. Chronology is important because the strikes come in the order that you select. Moreover, the strikes are carried out simultaneously, such that your missile will hit the opponent and then their first missile will hits yours. The process repeats until all your missiles are spent.

Space Tactics has some excellent audio and visual components to back this up. The interface is artistically slick but almost devoid of any informational components. Clearly, visual comprehension has given away to aesthetics. Still, I got the game up and running with very little trouble. As long as you keep the Battleship motif in mind, you won't have trouble with the basic mechanics. Battleship was never an incredibly sophisticated game. Although the developers have tried to add variety to the different crafts, I thought the differences were pretty subtle, aside from the Stout who has fewer ships but makes it up with firepower. True, you get different shaded user interfaces with each of the races, but a strong emphasis on tactics will save anyone's day regardless of which race you assume. The aural components are well done too. It is lacking a musical soundtrack but there are plenty of effects to keep the game going and as befitting this development group, there is a plethora of animation for what is ultimately a simple Battleship game.

With that said, Space Tactics certainly pays homage to the tactics portion of its name. You won't win if you systematically carpet bomb enemy positions. However, you will win with some smart probing and a bit of luck. Here, the simultaneous turn mode is an act of genius on the part of the developers. The one by one missile volleys help create suspense that otherwise would not have existed. The artificial intelligence's know how though, negates this suspense. Often times, you are able to win landslide victories against it in easy and normal settings. On the most difficult setting, it actually puts up a fight. It certainly knows how to probe your playing grid for ships but is unable to apply the coup d'etat. For example, as a human being, after I found traces of a single ship, I would concentrate my bombardment in that specific area in order to knock out at least one of the ships. The artificial intelligence, unfortunately, does not follow up its probes and in fact, spends a good deal of its arsenal to continue probing.

You can easily alleviate this with a human opponent and Space Tactics offers 802.11b wireless gaming as well as infrared options. The wireless gaming is great because it allows you to pair up with anyone as long as you have an 802.11b card attached to your PDA and are within range of an access point. It's definitely a novel idea and one of the first titles to implement such a feature. The stalwart infrared function is still available although it is less handy. I found you have to pretty much keep a level plane with your opponent's PDA to maintain a solid connection. Perhaps my testing environment had some interference but I found infrared to be a bit sensitive. Most noticeably missing is an option to go through the ActiveSync's TCP/IP stack and challenge another player over LAN. This would have been a great boon as Space Tactics is easily one of those titles where the game times are short enough to play on your cradle.

Furthermore, Space Tactics is unable to spawn client versions for play. The price isn't very steep for a Pocket PC title but playing with another person means both of you will have to own a legitimate copy of the software. Otherwise, the single player is fairly limited. With subtle variations between the races and an unchallenging computer opponent (at lower difficulty levels), there is significant room for improvement. It would have been great to use the alien franchises to script a string of scenarios together. For example, you could easily have scenarios where your ships are pre-arranged for you: the enemy could have taken you off guard as you are regrouping, or your ships are all scattered around or even damaged in a previous fight. You could even postulate the addition of a campaign where ships are carried over and their attributes increase as they survive more battles. Another addition would be multiple grid planes or a skirmish with more than one player. Some of these additions could greatly strengthen the single player component and add depth to the title overall. Altogether, Space Tactics is still an enjoyable, albeit somewhat limited title. It definitely shines more in the multiplayer section and makes an unquestionably important stride in creating a compelling multiplayer experience for the Pocket PC platform.

Ratings:
[08/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[13/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[04/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[14/15] Learning Curve
[08/10] Multiplayer

 

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Rating
84%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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