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Galaxy Factions (iOS) Review

/ Dec 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Clash of Clans has maintained its spot near the top of the App Store’s most downloaded list for some time now. The game has earned acclaim for being easy to pick up, hard to put down and even more difficult to master, but its hold on the top spot of the App Store may be about to change with the release of Galaxy Factions, a resource management strategy game for iOS that has players build up a base in order to take the fight to the enemy.

Published by Coco and created by Faceroll Games, Galaxy Factions is a space battle game similar to Clash of Clans that puts players in charge of a meager resource station and tasks them with building it up and expanding their reach across the galaxies starting with the Milky Way. With a multitude of different units and a variety of heroes to lead them, players must work within limited means to overcome enemies while maintaining and defending their home-base in order to achieve higher prestige and top the world rankings.

Single Player

While not a story in the traditional sense, single-player mode is a series of objectives that include taking on the bases of computer rather than player opponents. The start of the game immediately dives into a well needed and much appreciated tutorial. A space armor clad Miria takes you, the General, through the specifics of running the mining operation on your designated asteroid, which has run into a bit of a snag in the form of some unwanted competition.

Even after the initial bombardment of guidance is completed, Miria will occasionally pop up with comments, tips, suggestions and objectives in a manner that assists in keeping the player involved and helps to move the game along in the right direction.

While there is a great deal to do initially after this barrage of orders, the game slows to a grinding halt soon after as you are forced to wait while your equipment farms enough resources to upgrade the command center. This is necessary to upgrade other buildings further, which are used to farm for resources, creating a circle that can seem to brutally drag on forever. However, it is important to remember that single and multiplayer inform each other in that while waiting to upgrade enough to take on the next computer objective, resources and items can also be collected by attacking other players. As you conquer galaxies in single player, the resources earned can be used in multiplayer as well.

 

Camera controls allow you to zoom in and appreciate your destruction

Camera controls allow you to zoom in and appreciate your destruction

As players level up, the game grows more difficult as upgrades cost more, battles are more challenging and your equipment’s farming speed improves very little. The trick for the developer is to balance cost, time and reward in such a way that the game is challenging but not overwhelming, difficult but not impossible, and Galaxy Factions needs a little more fine-tuning before it hits dead center in this respect.

Gameplay

Apart from the variety of different troops that are unlocked and produced via your training center, there are also heroes — specialized troops that can be deployed in the same way as your typical disposable units. Heroes are different though, in that they do not have to be returned with the aid of matterium in order to be reused. They can be equipped with items, and they each have different special techniques. Some of these moves are simply activated while others have areas of effect.

Heroes can be unlocked via regular gameplay, but can only be used under a time limit unless purchased with in-game currency. Each hero typically has a different time limit and buying heroes is not cheap. Even fairly weak heroes can cost a hefty amount of matterium, the only resource in the game that cannot be mined and the hardest to collect.

In total there are three different resources in Galaxy Factions used for various purposes throughout the game: energus, crystals and matterium. Crystal and energus — the primary materials used in the game for building, upgrading and training — can be mined or extracted at your based and stored in depots. Matterium, on the other hand, is an all-purpose currency which can only be earned in miniscule amounts via achievements, objective completions or, as typical of free-to-play games, real currency. While you’re not required to purchase matterium in order to play, be prepared to see your progress stunted considerably without it as it can be used to skip wait times, buy heroes and even return troops to be redeployed. Playing without it requires much more grinding and a whole lot of waiting, something many won’t tolerate.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer in Galaxy Factions is played in the same way as single player, except against real opponents’ randomly selected bases. Unfortunately, this means your base, and in effect your resources, are also in danger unless you buy a shield. Thus, intelligently planning the layout of your base is imperative as it could make or break the outcome of an attack. A wide choice of structures, though limited in amounts, are available to assist, with more unlocked as players level up. Everything from stable barriers to combative turrets can be placed in virtually any formation on the battlefield and experimenting with what works using videos of successful raids against you can be incredibly fun.

 

Even the computer gets creative with their base layouts

Even the computer gets creative with their base layouts

World rankings also play a part (a unicorn of mobile gaming as they are usually full of hackers and cheats) because the best players have a chance to earn bonus matterium. This also makes double important the joining of alliances in-game, which can be done at Level 4, as not only are individuals ranked, but group alliances as well. That said, the more social side of the game is not without its problems.

One of the key issues with the multiplayer as it stands right now is an apparent leveling gap between low and high level players that matches newer players with enemy bases far outside their ability. As more people pick up the game after release, this issue will likely be fixed but until then, expect a wall between level 10 and 20.

Controls

The controls, if you can call them that, are extremely simple. Tap to place a troop and that is literally all. This simplified control scheme, often praised in mobile gaming, is the source for the biggest issue with this title and has the potential to undermine the entire experience for many. While players can initially place troops almost anywhere they want on the battlefield (watch those pesky corners) there is no way to direct movement or target specific enemies.

Heroes and regular units alike wander into streams of gunfire haphazardly reminiscent of lemmings. It’s quite frustrating to watch helplessly as your troops move to gun down a defenseless, worthless training center whilst being obliterated by an adjacent turret. This huge flaw replaces the strategy in this game with a dose of dumb luck that strategy-minded players will find endlessly annoying, while it will level the playing field for others.

Overall

For those seeking a semi-strategic multiplayer game that can be involved as little or as much as they like, Galaxy Factions is a game that costs nothing to pick up or put down. The graphics are great for a title in its genre, put on some headphones and the sound is spot on, and most importantly it’s downright fun. However, this is a game where those willing to spend cold, hard cash will have a definite edge, giving it potential to end up a pay-to-win title.

As much as Galaxy Factions likes to think of itself as a strategy game, the strategy is tied completely to base-planning and resource management and noticeably missing from combat. With a little more balancing and increased control, this good game could be a great game. Nevertheless, even in its current form it is extremely addicting and fun, worthy of downloading.

  

Miranda L Visser

Miranda L Visser

Gaming since she dug an NES out of a dumpster down the street from her home as a child, Miranda L Visser contributes to Gaming Illustrated while working on her M.A. in Norway. She dearly misses steak and being able to walk down the street to buy cheap games.
Miranda L Visser
Miranda L Visser

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GALAXY FACTIONS (IOS) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall81%

Gameplay8

"Clash of Clans" but better, "Galaxy Factions" is an example of build and pillage done right.

Sound8

While mobile games usually lack anything special, if you play with headphones on you won't be annoyed after five minutes.

Multiplayer9

With alliances, chat, and a matching system showing potential, the multiplayer is well executed despite a few minor issues.

Single Player8

While interwoven with multiplayer simultaneously, the computer objectives are challenging and fun and provide resources useful for multiplayer engagements.

Addictiveness9

You'll put it down only to find yourself picking it right back up when you're notified your forces are ready for battle.

Controls7

Really the only negative aspect of this game. This is a case of more is better.