Before I start this review, I would like to point out that yes, I do understand that Starfront: Collision is a complete rip-off of Starcraft. I mean, c’mon even the names are similar. However, you should have grasped by now that this is what Gameloft does. In saying that, Gameloft has experimented a little bit with this title in that it’s not a first-person shooter, racing game or sports game at all. Instead the company have delved into the fantastical realms of real-time strategy. Whereas a load of explosions, special effects and bloody deaths are enough to satisfy a shooter fan, the RTS crowd are a much tougher pack to tame so it will be interesting to see how Gameloft do in this tetchy market.
Starfront: Collision Gameplay
Starfront: Collision follows 3 factions; a human race known as the Consortium, an alien race called the Myraid and the robot race named The Wardens. All of whom are after the profitable and rare resource: Xenodium, only found on the planet Sinistral. Inevitably, this is where all the factions end up and soon enough a fierce conflict emerges on the planet.
Each faction take their stereotypical roles in Starfront’s campaign. The humans are as ignorant and obnoxious as ever, not caring for the disastrous consequences of their actions as long as they make a profit. The aliens — being the natives of the planet — are trying to defend their home-world as well as reap in all the delicious Xenodium that they can get their claws on. Lastly, the robots are very calculative and strategic in their ways and try to turn the war in their favour. Despite this strong enough foundation, the story is not that engaging at all. Whatever remnants of a story that exists is let down by the lack of voice acting in the game. This doesn’t help in injecting some humanity and emotion into the plot. The fact that voice overs are in the beginning tutorial only make the absence of them afterward even more noticeable.
Despite this, Starfront’s gameplay is surprisingly good. Starfront will be easily recognisable by any RTS gamer. You need to build and secure your base, collect resources and then try to forge an army of sorts to make battle with against your opponent. But the game does well in moving things forward. You won’t be spending hours waiting to gather enough resources to buy some super soldier, or having to wait a 5 minutes for a building to construct itself. Starfront seems much more of a casual game compared to some of its more mature competitors like Starcraft. There are about 8 buildings and 10 units for each of the three factions which is pretty slim when it encompasses everything in the game. That’s not to say that the game isn’t varied enough. Factions seem aesthetically different from each other and there are perks to each individual race. For example, the aliens’ buildings are all organic (living) so they can ‘mend’ over time. However, they all have more-or-less the same units functionally. Starfront: Collision doesn’t reach that sophistication that some other games in the same genre achieves. This also limits your strategical options.
The actual combat in Starfont is suitably satisfying but trying to move large armies of units can be frustrating. I wish large formations would stay as a group rather than getting one behind the other as if they are waiting to pay for their groceries. It certainly makes large-scale attacks more cumbersome and less effective, especially when half of your men stand static almost oblivious to the full-scale war that’s going on just a few feet away. Some sort of formation options — placing weaker/valuable units at the back — would have been appreciated. The fact that the player’s maximum population size peaks at 60 makes attacks on a grand scale can be tricky.
The game’s three-part campaign spans across all of the factions and is a good place to start when you enter the game for the first time. However the campaigns are extremely short and aside from a few tough stages nearer the end they are pretty easy to complete on the first try and don’t explore all of the features of the game. The skirmish mode is there to offer some longevity though. Even then, the skirmish games are incredibly short in length and without the ability to pit against more than one person seems ridiculous. The maps are extremely small meaning that expansion is no option.
There is a multiplayer mode which allows you to have a 2v2 match with some online opponents however being such a new game, I have had trouble finding someone to play. Hopefully as more people buy Starfront this will become less of a problem.
I know I have said a ton of negative stuff in this review so far, however, I must stress the game functions superbly. The graphics are at a high standard and the gameplay — although limited — is fun. The campaign is varied in their objectives rather than throwing you into different locations and telling you to do the exact same thing. There has been some real thought gone into Starfront: Collision, just on a smaller scale than some other RTS’s.
We all criticise Gameloft for copying other game franchises’ ideas but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In the case of Starfront, Gameloft have taken a potentially daunting genre of the RTS and made it casual. Whereas some of their titles may be ‘inspired’ by other established titles, Gameloft are appealing to a whole different market; the casual market which is what makes their games so successful. If you’re used to turning to something like Age of Empires or Starcraft for your real-time strategy fix then Starfront is going to feel watered-down, limited and very basic. But if you’re a novice to the genre then this is a perfect introduction to strategising and plotting on your Mac. Starfront carves out this little niche that makes it a perfect buy for the right gamer.
Price: $9.99 (£9.99)
Description: A Fun Casual Sci-Fi RTS
Pros: A great real-time strategy game, good for casual/novice players.
Cons: Not for hardcore RTSers, no formation options, small maps, limiting units.
Advised Control Method: Mouse Recomended