Hunters: Episode One for iPad Review
The turn-based gameplay that Hunters incorporates is reminiscent of classic PC titles like Omnitrend's Breach 2 and MicroProse's XCOM: UFO Defense, but unlike those pre-Internet titles, Hunters benefits from both the network and the touch interface that iPad gamers take for granted. Do these new modalities make Hunters a better game as a result? Read on to find out.
The basic premise behind Hunters is a Contract-for-hire scenario where you have various space mercenary marines at your disposal, each with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, equipment and armor load-outs. These attributes can be upgraded over time with experience and loot that can be bought and sold. Doing so will be crucial as difficulty ramps up quickly in the various scenarios that that game has to offer.
Graphically, Hunters is a notch above other top-down strategy games, likely due to the fact that the turn-based model doesn't have to push nearly as many pixels in real-time as an all-out action shooter or standard RTS. The fact that it is 'free' with an in-game purchase activation offers interested gamers the ability to try the tutorial and a few missions before having to pay for the full product. Still, as I mentioned in an earlier game review, I'm not a fan of these in-app purchase models and have also heard that they're not the best model (yet) for developers, since some industry analysts have hypothesized that people are more likely to buy iOS applications up front rather than pursue the in-app 'try before your buy' model due to the fact that either people have had enough exposure to the game to extract the brief amount of entertainment value they're seeking for the game, or that they feel the in-app game purchase model is just not the purchase model they're used to, comfortable and confident with (I'm in the second group). Either way, Rodeo Games should reconsider their in-app purchase approach for future titles if sales don't meet expectations. Still, given the entertainment value delivered by Hunters, the game should do fairly well.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Hunters is its promise of a new mission every day. This approach will no doubt keep turn-based strategy gamers compelled to play the game daily, especially since these missions must be completed within a 24 hour period. This compulsory approach combined with Hunters' addicting game play will likely keep it on the top 10 personal play lists of participating iPad gamers.
I did encounter a few bugs while playing the game. First, I had a temporary problem accessing the free offers that occasionally appear in the mission scenario listing. These offers shows an in-game advertisement for other iOS applications, and clicking on them fulfills the requirement to acquire free virtual game gear such as weapons (though the weapons themselves are fairly weak). However, when I did so at one time during my game review period, a server error appeared that prevented this feature from working. The feature worked correctly a few hours later. While this was just a minor annoyance, I did encounter a few times when the game simply crashed outright, dumping me back to the iPad springboard desktop. Fortunately, the game didn't lose my entire game, just a turn or two before the crash occurred. I anticipate that the folks at Rodeo will be 'hunting' a few bugs of their own to eradicate these problems.
Overall, Hunters: Episode One HD is an entertaining turn-based strategy game that incorporates a simple, intuitive touch interface to navigate a well-designed and visually interesting top-down spaceship environment. While not without its problems, the game nevertheless delivers a fun diversion, daily missions and solid gameplay that will hold your interest for some time.
Title: Hunters: Episode One HD
Developer: Rodeo Games
Price: $7.99+ US
Rating: 4/5 stars