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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Palm OS and Pocket PC games

Warfare Incorporated by Handmark, Price: $29.99
Reviewed September 2003

It’s hard to call a game like Warfare Inc. an epic game against the backdrop of big screen RTS games such as Command and Conquer. But Warfare Inc. developers should get plenty of credit for coming up with a story line with twists and humor, 20 well designed levels (14 storyline levels and 6 mission levels) that are grueling at times, beautifully rendered graphics and a solid game in general.

Developed by Spiffcode and published by Handmark, Warfare Inc. is an RTS game for both Palm and Pocket PCs. It has all the ingredients of a great RTS game including building a home base to generate money, and building well-armed commandos and various types of deadly artillery that both defend and take over enemy bases. Warfare Inc. is set in the future where money comes from mining operations on an alien planet and your enemies are your business competitor, rogue corporate officers and a radical group.

With a different map in each level, Warfare Inc. offers heaps of action yet cleverly avoids repeating the same fighting routine. You will get plenty of exercise in the familiar “build, search and destroy” RTS gameplay, but you will find some pleasant variety in each level’s missions. In addition to destroying and conquering enemy bases, you’ll defend access points, chase run-away enemies and rescue your own people as your mission objectives. You will need to build large home bases in some levels; in others you will need to be a super commando and single-handedly complete your missions. Such level design shows some ingenuity and understanding of RTS games and their fans.

The AI works surprising well. Too often, even in games like Age of Empires or even Warcraft, you get path-finding problems where your units get stuck behind the trees or stand on a cliff and can’t figure out how to get to the frontline. You will not experience this problem in Warfare Inc., which seems amazing to me. The enemy AI is on target, though some levels are bit too easy with a pre-sequenced path. After you play a couple of times, you will know where the enemy units are coming from and when.

The graphics in Warfare Inc. are some of the best I’ve seen on a handheld platform. The terrain, structures and war units all look very sharp. You will enjoy special effects like explosions and smoke, and you’ll watch your units moving smoothly to their posts. The interface makes the game very easy to play with almost no learning curve. After the first couple of missions, you will be well on your way to building your own mining operation and waging a war on your own. On the Sony hi-res Clies, Warfare Inc. runs in the full screen (320 x 480 on the NX and NZ models, and 480 x 320 landscape on the UX50), which is a very nice touch. However, there are some bugs that kept freezing the game on the NX80V, though it ran flawlessly on the SJ30 and UX50. Warfare Inc. can run in both landscape and portrait modes on the Pocket PC.

There aren’t any music background tracks in Warfare Inc., though you will find an extensive amount of sound FX. Some of the well designed sound FX include building structures, and units responding to your commands. While the collection of the sound FX is fairly impressive, the code itself needs a little adjusting. The volume on the SJ30 version is extremely low to the point it’s hard to hear. But on the NX80V and UX50, the sound is very loud and a little choppy. Warfare Inc. runs on both Palm OS devices including gray scale, low res and high res, and Pocket PCs including 2002 and 2003 devices. It takes about 2.5MB storage space.

There is no question that Warfare Inc. is a stunning achievement in the RTS genre on PDAs. The level of game design and the intelligence of the AI accompanied by beautiful graphics show an incredible maturity in this 1.0 version of the game. Hopefully the bugs will be fixed and some new features will be added in future releases. A level editor will generate more fans and maybe even help the game to come up with sequels or expansion packs. After all the dust settles and the fog of war clears, you will see a game with a great core design and huge potential to be one of the first “epic” games on the PDAs!

Playing Hints and Tips

Don’t be afraid of replaying the levels. It gives you can opportunity to try different strategies. Always establish your base and mining operations first before building fighting units. Always make sure you have a few Bullpups because if you run out mining vehicles and money, you are dead in the water.

screen shot

Above, Pocket PC version. Below: Palm OS high-res 320 x 320 version.

Screen Shot

Pocket PC
Palm

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Excellent! Very sharp images and polished graphics.
Sound Great sound FX wonderfully capture the action. No music might be a turn off for some gamers.
Fun Meter Different levels with various types of missions are never boring. Some missions are easy while others are grueling. The pace of the game seems right on target. RTS fan will find joy in their familiar territory.
Addictivity 20 well-designed levels in three difficulty settings will last you for a long while.


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