By Eric Pankoke on Wed, 01/06/2010
When describing a game it’s pretty common practice to say “it’s like…” Well, to finish that phrase for Ant Conflict I’d say “It’s like chess”. In fact, I’d wager to say that if you want to be any good at it, you’ll have to take the time to study the board like you would a game of chess. Unfortunately, I’m not that patient. Thankfully I’ve learned to like games even when I’m not very good at them, and I like Ant Conflict. The characters are cool, the game is challenging, and brute force is not an option.
In Ant Conflict you have two ant armies, each trying to kill the other’s queen. Combat takes place on a 6x8 grid, and is played in rounds where each player takes a turn moving. There are six types of pieces, and just like in chess each piece has a certain way it can move. Unlike chess, however, where only select pieces attack differently than they move, in Ant Conflict every piece has a combat strategy that’s different than how it’s allowed to move. To move a piece you simply click on it. Your available options will be drawn on the map. To select an option you can click on it, or you can click anywhere else to cancel your ant selection. Once you’ve made a move there’s no way to take it back, however. The game can be played against three different levels of AI or hot seat against another opponent. I’ve restricted myself to the easy AI so far simply because I haven’t beaten the game yet.
As I mentioned before, there are 6 types of units. The basic unit is the soldier. This unit can move forward one or two spaces at a time, and attack either adjacent diagonal space in front of it. The cool thing about the soldier unit is that if it makes it to the opponent’s back line it transforms into a super soldier which has better movement and can attack any adjacent square. Hunters move and attack diagonally, and the queen herself can only move or attack one square horizontally or vertically in each direction. The pit worker is neat because it tunnels underground to attack its prey, so it can bypass another unit that’s on a square directly adjacent to it. The other unit of note is the nurse. She can’t attack an opponent, but she can prevent an ally that she’s standing directly behind from being hurt, as long as that ally is not the queen or a super soldier.
Just like chess, you’re not going to reign victorious in Ant Conflict if you simply try and trot down the field guns blazing. If you’re playing against the computer you have to try and outthink it on every move. Try planning two or three moves ahead. If you’re playing against a human opponent, just try and find someone who’s not as smart as you. Don’t tell them I said that, though! And, just like chess, even though you can’t gun it down the field and survive, you can fly through the game pretty quickly without much thought. If you do that, however, you won’t really get much satisfaction from the game.
The characters are small, but they still look pretty cool. There’s always something squirming or jittering around, and some characters even have cool death animations (for instance, when the queen dies her crown clanks to the ground). It would have been nice to have some full blown images for victory and defeat, and maybe even a couple of frames of intro graphics, but what’s there is quite pleasant.
Each character has something to say when you move it or decide to cancel a move, and sometimes the voiceovers are quite humorous. There is also a lot of background noise that seems to range from the pleasantness of crickets chirping to the sounds of artillery being fired. Sadly, the only music that plays is during the menu. It would be nice if there were some in game tunes.
Ant Conflict is a thinking man’s game. It’s especially nice for those who are intrigued by the potential complexities of chess but are looking for something different. The atmosphere is a bit comical and doesn’t really compliment the deep strategy that can permeate the game, but I still like the audio and visuals. Overall Ant Conflict is a good game for those occasions when you want something deeper than a casual game but also something that won’t take you hours to play.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link