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iPad Game Review: Alien Tribe 2: The 4X RTS Space Game for iPad Review
      #46356 - 04/24/14 03:44 PM

In case you couldn't tell by the title, Alien Tribe 2 is a 4X space-based strategy game. eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate in real-time, but at a manageable pace; and with lots of innovative gameplay.



Gameplay

Alien Tribe 2 is one of those games that could only come out of an independent development house. There are no scripted missions, no flashy cutscenes, and no ridiculous backstory. Each game begins anew with you living on a single lonely planet in a randomly generated galaxy. Your task is to explore new regions of space, collect and utilize resources, expand your civilization, and crush your enemies. While you're at it, you will also come across pieces of an ancient Ark, and surviving long enough to assemble it will win you the game. This is good old fashioned 4X strategy gaming, but, surprisingly, in real-time. Now, let me say up front that I am generally not a fan of real-time strategy games. To me, they feel more like arcade games than strategy games, and I prefer my games to move at a pace that doesn't make my upper lip sweat. Thankfully, Alien Tribe 2 breaks new ground as a RTS because I never felt like I couldn't keep up with what was going on. Instead, gameplay feels more like a turn-based game that is comprised of a single, long turn. After playing through the tutorials (which I recommend), you will be off and running thanks to several key game features that will keep you on track. First is the advisor that pops up on the easier difficulties and flat-out tells you what you should be doing if you're not doing it. Second (this is my favorite part of the game, by the way), are the objectives that will keep you moving in all the directions you need. Completing them will actually unlock necessary structures/enhancements/bonuses. Ignore them at your peril. Fortunately, they are very straightforward and packed with common sense so you will likely unlock them by simply playing the game. If you find yourself stuck, by the way, and find yourself either trapped in a corner of the galaxy or repeatedly savaged by an opponent, open them up and make sure you didn't miss a key objective. Another benefit of this mechanic is it keeps the available options in the early game at a manageable level, and teaches you sound strategies. Combat is also a blast, although it also breaks the usual mold of 4X games by baking in a healthy dose of tower defense gameplay. Lastly, unlike most games in this genre, the late game is not an exercise in micromanagement. Thanks to a series of key infrastructure upgrades that shuttle resources where they need to go, nothing ever feels tedious or overwhelming.



Graphics

Alien Tribe 2 is a 2D sprite-based game, but the graphics are quite sharp and well-drawn. Everything is easy to distinguish on-screen, although things can get a bit crowded when fully zoomed-out. Zooming, however, is as easy as pinching/expanding so it wasn't really an issue. The only graphical assets I didn't particularly appreciate were the backgrounds and the asteroids. The in-game backgrounds consist of static pictures of nebulae, which, while colorful, weren't up to the rest of the game's visuals; The asteroids, on the other hand, appear to be modeled in 3D, unlike the rest of the game, and are easily twice the size of your solar system's sun! The first time they appear after you do a deep-space scan you immediately wonder why a scan would ever be needed to see them. These are small issues, however, and don't affect gameplay in any way.

Sound

The sound effects of Alien Tribe 2 are subdued, but well-done. While you won't be reaching for your headphones, they won't make you reach for the mute switch, either.

In-App Purchases (IAPs)

The in-game currency of Alien Tribe 2 consists of GEOs: Green Energy Orbs. These can by used to purchase extras, and they can also be traded for resources. GEOs can be found through normal gameplay, and your balance will persist from game to game, although once spent, they are gone. After several hours of playing Alien Tribe 2, I found GEOs to be completely optional.



Conclusion

If you like open-ended strategy games, Alien Tribe 2 is a fantastic and original take on the 4X genre. With realtime gameplay, objective-based unlocks, and tower-defense flavored combat, it actually manages to bring something new to strategy gaming.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 4 - Well-drawn high resolution 2D sprites make for a gaming experience that's not only fun, but easy on the eyes.
Sound: - 3 - Sound effects are well-done, but they don't stand out in any way.
Controls: - 5 - It works the way you think a game like this should work.
Gameplay: - 5 - A new twist on the 4X strategy genre with lots of replayability.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Play the tutorials! Build a Solar Collector first. If you're not sure what can be built where, remember that different build options will be available depending on where your construction ship is at the moment (some things can only be built in the galaxy view, and some can only be built in within a solar system). Pay attention to the game objectives. They're not only there to give you something to do, they're there to teach you what to do.



App Facts:

Developer: Stefan Haslbauer
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Alien Tribe 2: The 4X RTS Space Game

Reviewed by Tom Slayton











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