iPad Game Review: Hunters 2 for iOS (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Hunters 2 is a squad level, turn-based sci-fi strategy game in the style of the old X-Com series. It features universal support, a (short) campaign, daily missions, and more upgrades and customization than you can shake a plasma rifle at - that is, if you've got the cash...
If you've ever played the old PC classic X-Com, then you're going to be right at home here. The setting is outer space, and you are in charge of a squad of marines mercenaries fighting their way to fame and glory wealth. Unlike the original Hunters, version 2 features an excellent (if short) campaign mode. This is a great place to start as it will help to introduce new players to the mechanics of gameplay and introduce veteran players to the insidious new alien menace. This last bit is a particularly welcome addition as they play completely differently than your tried and true opponents (other hunters), which freshens up gameplay considerably. After you select your squad and outfit them with armor and weapons, you are unceremoniously dumped onto the selected map where you must effectively deploy your team in order to meet your objective.
Movement is accomplished by tapping on a hunter and then selecting his destination hex. This is thankfully simplified by the presence of a shaded area showing you the movement range for that particular character. Attacking is just as straightforward; simply tap on an enemy to target him and start blasting. It's important to pause at this point, and remind everyone that this is turn-based so don't expect a sci-fi themed Diablo-style clickfest. To be successful, you must try to outguess and ultimately outflank your enemy in order to give more damage than you receive. Rushing headlong will result in an early retirement as well as a great deal of frustration.
In addition to the campaign mode, there is also Rodeo Games' signature Daily Missions. Every 24 hours, a random set of missions will become available. This is a FANTASTIC feature, and effectively extends gameplay almost indefinitely. After each mission you can use your loot to upgrade, customize, and even craft weapons and armor. There is also a role-playing element in the form of a fairly extensive skill tree and leveling system. All-in-all, this combination of fresh missions and stuff/characters to upgrade works extremely well, and really motivates you to keep playing without feeling like you're grinding.
Hunters 2 supports Game Center for achievements, but unfortunately does not support cloud-save, which means you won't be able to sync your progress across devices.
The graphics of Hunters 2 are professional, polished, and bring to mind a well-known (if overused) industry catch-phrase: high production values. In fact, the visuals in Hunters 2 are easily among the very best in iOS strategy games. In particular, the game's menus are super crisp, and it makes excellent use of 3D lighting effects to add some graphical punch. I know, I know, purists will tell me that graphics don't matter in strategy games; it's all about the gameplay. While gameplay is obviously paramount, great graphics can really increase the immersion factor of a good strategy game, and Hunters 2 succeeds in this regard with high marks. Most welcome, however, is the fact that, unlike the original Hunters and Hunters HD, this version is universal so you won't need to purchase and install separate applications for different hardware. Unfortunately, Hunters 2 does not support the retina display on the new iPad so let's hope the game is successful enough to warrant those types of luxury upgrades in the future.
The sound effects and music have a professional level of polish to them, and are (thankfully) nicely understated. The effects are well sampled and the music isn't annoying, repetitive, or inappropriately intrusive. The best way to sum up the audio of Hunters 2 is that it serves to draw you deeper into the game rather than push you away. That is about as much as you could ever ask for in a game like this.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
For those so inclined, Hunters 2 offers impatient or frustrated gamers the opportunity to purchase in-game credits with real money via IAP. While I'm not generally a fan of consumable IAPs, I didn't find the game to be imbalanced in such a way as to force you to make use of them.
Hunters 2 is an excellent turn-based strategy game. The interface is clean and accurate, the upgrade and customization system will keep you coming back, and the daily missions ensure that you will never run out of content. Highly recommended for both veterans of the genre as well as newcomers.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Excellent graphics but no retina support for new iPad. Sound: - 4 - Sound effects are as good as the graphics, and the music won't make you turn it down. Controls: - 5 - A great interface and a responsive/accurate touch screen means that it won't get between you and your gameplay. Gameplay: - 4 - The addition of a campaign and the continuing value of the daily missions provide plenty of content for your gaming dollar.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Learn the movement capabilities of your enemies and be careful not to move into their firing range unless you can fire first. Spend some time with the talent trees and crafting system as not every skill/weapon is created equal. Try to build a balanced team; you can't win a game of rock/paper/scissors if all you bring are scissors.