Most of the PalmOS games Ive come across fit into one of 3 categories: puzzles, action and arcade. There are several that reach beyond these categories, but I would say that 99% are one of those types. So when the opportunity came to review Spiffcode, Inc.'s Warfare Incorporated, a game that was so very different, I jumped at the chance.
Warfare Incorporated is a real-time strategy game that takes place in a future dominated by huge super corporations bent on taking over the galaxy. For those who may not be familiar, "real-time strategy" games typically involve building a small "civilization" of sorts, where you have to raise money and build an army and take stuff over. So by it's very nature, this isn't your average PalmOS game. Most PalmOS games are intended for a quick fix, like when you're waiting in line somewhere or waiting for a meeting to get started. This one
leans a little more towards the take-your-life-over style addictiveness of The Sims franchise or Sid Meier's Civilization games. No, Warfare Incorporated isn't that sophisticated, but it reaches in that direction for the first time in any PalmOS game I've played.
Warfare Incorporated's features include:
- 14 single-player missions
- 6 bonus "Challenge" missions
- Up to 4 players can play head-to-head on 21 multiplayer maps
- Mission editor for creating new single and multiplayer missions
- Several dozen free user-contributed missions available online
- 2 alien landscapes / 11 military units / 11 building types
- 4 channel audio - digitized sound effects
- Stunning graphics - color and grayscale, low and high resolution supported, portrait and landscape where possible
Modes of play
The main mode of play is the single-player affair. There is a story mode where you play the part of aspiring young ACME adventurer Andy and attempt to lead your fledgling company to domination on the newly-discovered planet Icarus against the arch-rival OMNI Corporation. Icarus is rich in galaxite, a valuable mineral that ACME and OMNI have scoured the galaxy for in order to generate enough money, troops and resources to crush one another. There is a somewhat-entertaining-yet-terribly-predictable story line going on, but it's there mostly to advance the missions Andy goes on. It's nice that there is a story at all, and adds to the depth of the game. I mean, you don't expect Tom Clancy to write a plot for a PalmOS game. You can also play any of the missions from the story mode individually any time you want, and you can play some other "Challenge Missions" that are bundled in.
There is also a multiplayer mode, where as many as 4 players can vie for control of a patch of Icarus. Players can connect via Bluetooth or across the internet (with an unlimited data connection, of course). I didn't get to try this out though, as I could never find anybody else online to play with. I did play a game or two against my girlfriend via Bluetooth and utterly destroyed her. Yeah, it was her first time and she had no idea what she was doing but hey: don't walk on the beach if you don't want to get your feet dirty. The game worked flawlessly and it was a whole lot of fun. Both players start with an HQ and a little bit of scratch to get started with, and whoever builds the best camp and
destroys the other player's camp wins. This was a blast with 2 people. I can only imagine how much fun it must be with 3 or 4 players.
The coolest thing, however, is the inclusion of a desktop Mission Editor, which allows you to create your own missions. Like many of you, I have less than no time to actually create a mission myself, but as of this writing there were 155 community-created missions available for download on the website. I tried a few of them and they are very well done.
Most of your time playing Warfare Incorporated will be dedicated to the single-player missions, which make up the "meat" of the game. The majority of the scenarios require you to strategically set up a mining camp, build security and/or assault forces and achieve a particular goal. The missions are introduced with some very spiffy cut screens and through dialog screens that are set up to mimic email messages.
In most cases the goal is to eliminate all of the enemies in the area, but some missions will require you to defend an area until reinforcements can arrive, or to rescue an ACME coworker, or to discover an unknown, alien device of some sort or another. The developers at Spiffcode have done an excellent job of keeping the missions fresh by making each one unique in one way or another.
The missions usually start with Andy commanding a small team into an uncharted region on Icarus, where the ACME commanders have found high galaxite readings. You will usually start with a budget, a small team, and a mobile headquarters that you have to position. Once you have positioned your HQ, you transform it into a base from which you can build a galaxite processing center to fund your little operation. To move around the battlefield, you must choose a team member or vehicle and simply point to where you want them to go. Fortunately, you can
use your stylus to drag over and select several team members at once and
position them all with one point of the stylus. It took me a mission or two to figure that out, with me selecting each team member and positioning them separately. It was a tremendous relief when I realized I could move several at once. You spend a lot of your time in this game positioning troops and planning assaults, so it's important to do it as quickly and effectively as possible.
This brings up a bit of a gripe I had with the game. Sometimes I would send a bunch of troops across the battlefield for some reason or another, and along the way they may encounter the enemy. When you give your troops an order, they are going to follow it, no matter what. If you tell them to march across the battlefield to a specific point, they are going to do just that. Unfortunately, they are not smart enough to stop and defend themselves if they are fired upon along their route. They'll continue to march along their way, easy pickings for the bad guys. You have to stop them and engage the enemy yourself. To say the
least, you'll have to micro-manage just about every aspect of this operation. I suspect that some people (myself included) will find this fun, and for others it might be a little too time- and focus-consuming.
When you start bringing in some moolah, you can build your little mining camp. From your HQ you can build a Human Resource Center, which will crank out troops and "corporate raiders" who have the ability to enter and claim enemy facilities for ACME's use. You can build a Vehicle Transport Station, which will manufacture several types of vehicles for you to deploy as you see fit. You can build rocket and machine gun turrets, which can secure an area for you. When your mining operation really gets cranking, you can build extra galaxite storage
centers to house your loot.
Now of course, these things aren't happening in a vacuum, and there are always enemy forces in the area for you to deal with. The enemy forces have the same resources at their disposal that you have, so you have to strategize as to how to wipe them out and get all the galaxite for yourself. Thankfully, the enemy forces are pretty smart. They do a good job of setting up their bases (in most cases, the enemy base is in place and they don't come after you until "alerted" by your presence, usually after you have set up your camp and started mining galaxite) and they are very adept at building small assault teams and attacking you in waves. The OMNI troops will flank you. They'll pick weak spots and adjust their gameplan when you send reinforcements to an area. They'll hide in the cover of the uncharted (by you) regions of the battlefield. They'll sneak up and attack your galaxite-capturing bullpups if you aren't careful to defend them. In all, the enemy artificial intelligence does a great job of keeping the game worthwhile. Again, for a PalmOS game, this is much more than I would have expected.
As I said before, Spiffcode did an excellent job of varying the 14 main story missions enough that the game doesn't get stale. In one mission, ACME discovers an alien artifact that turns out to be a "replicator", which you can take control of and use to mass-produce more troops and vehicles. In another mission Andy goes into an area alone to rescue his girlfriend/coworker, equipped with a powerful, long-range weapon and a special suit that allows him to heal himself. Another mission reveals the existence of another faction that has found Icarus
and poses a threat to both ACME and OMNI. As you play through the story mode, you never know what the game is going to throw at you next, and it always turns out to be very interesting.
Warfare Incorporated is my new favorite PalmOS game. I've played the heck out of it, and I'm still not tired of it. Throw in the multiplayer, the fact that there are several difficulty levels and over 150 missions to download and try out from the online community and you actually have yourself quite a bargain for $29.95. Well, bargain might be a bit of a stretch, but it's definitely a lot of fun for those who will like this type of thing.
Impressive enemy intelligence
|Pricey for a PalmOS game
Not for everybody