Desert Stormfront: Full Real-Time Strategy on your mobile phone!
Back in the nineties there was a strong period of strategy games which spawned the likes of Mega Lo Mania, The Settlers, Warcraft… the list is endless and now the developers at Noble Master Games have created a strategy game for your touchscreen phone: Desert Stormfront. Check out the good points about this game below…
This is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game which means that all the action happens live in real time as opposed to turn based games. This means that you need to think quickly and react instantly. Perhaps a better explanation is that Desert Stormfront is like Starcraft 2, but it’s a cut down version instead. For you classic gamers out there, then the best description is that this is a cross of Command and Conquer with Civilization 2.
At this point you may still wondering how such a complicated game type could be put into a touch screen phone and maybe you’re thinking about what kind of game compromises have been made. Well I can gladly say that this is very close to a full RTS. There’s resource gathering, economy management, unit production, complementing military units, the fog of war and most importantly you have to control your units to obliterate the enemy. To satisfy proper hardcore RTS fans then there are even control groups which you can assign units to!
Relative to the vast domain of growing mobile phone gamers, these strategy games are likely to be very niche. So to add a bit more color for those who still don’t know about RTS games, here’s a very short overview. In Desert Stormfront you need to send jeeps into oil refineries and strongholds to take ownership of them. Once you own the oil refineries then you will automatically generate cash which will fund the military unit production at your strongholds. After you have your economy setup then you can start building an army. (When in doubt the trick is to mass build the units you think will work.) The best players will understand that the unit composition is critical to win in the fights – all units have their strengths and weaknesses. Then the aim is to storm the enemy strongholds and wipe them out, but usually you’ll need to send multiple waves of units to whittle down the enemy forces. There are control groups available so you can then direct sets of units at once (instead of clicking on each single unit).
Desert Stormfront is pretty darn amazing and the campaign missions seem to be as clever as the modern RTS missions. The ability to play this game with one finger touch is truly amazing and the developers have definitely accounted for many factors. Eventhough multi-touch doesn’t appear to be employed here, we suspect this won’t be far away as the phone technology gets to that fully reliable multi touch state.
When our team sat down with the game we were blown away by the epic music tracks that are in the game. They make you feel like you’re about to go to war in Gladiator and there’s beautiful depth in sound! The next big thing anyone would notice is the old school elements…
This game is fully stylised with nineties classic sprite graphics which are accompanied with old school midi-like sound effects. As I write this even I am confused because there’s very high quality music which is matched up with low quality sound effects… but it works!
What’s in this Free Version?
There’s a tutorial and four missions given for you to try. Although that may sound like very little, quite a lot is exposed: you get to see most of the Land, Sea and Air units (Jeeps, Tanks, Submarines, Hovercraft, Carriers Choppers and Fighters come to mind). In addition to this you will see the core game mechanics. So if you like these types of games then you’ll know if Desert Stormfront is for you.
Downers: Unfortunately not everything is explained in the game so it’s quite easy for a new player to get lost. Even a semi experienced player may have to play the same round a few times in case they make a round losing mistake. Although we’ve praised the developer’s single touch interface solution, it’s still tough to use. We suspect a new player would find it sticky and a hardcore purist would feel too restricted. Is this what it would be like playing starcraft 2 with a single button mouse on the mac?
Rating: 4/5 A truly superb Real Time Strategy game for your mobile phone. We highly encourage all players to give the free version a try. If you like this game then buy the full version!
Desert Stormfront Tips and Tricks:
- The single touch interface would probably be the first big problem. In order to get used to this, try thinking about your actions in pairs. i.e. your first touch will select, and then your second touch will be to control whatever you’ve selected. Otherwise you’ll end up accidentally ordering your units to walk into each other.
- After getting accustomed to clicking, then get used to assigning and unassigning control groups.
- Control groups are crucial for being efficient in the fights. You may want to consider sub control groups so that you can micro manage your units to spread your attacks during fights. This is especially important if you’ve massed up your units.
- Keep spending your money on building military units – there’s no point in having tons of cash and not spending it.
- Select units which will counter and defeat your opponent’s army. In order to figure out a unit’s strengths and weaknesses then click on the unit and look at the little barcharts to determine which vehicle type it’s best against.
- Multi tasking is the key. Don’t just stare at what you see on the screen. Remember that you can open the mini map and use that to help you watch everything on the map at once.