By March 9, 2010

Android review: Battle For Mars

0 Some say that Android games are nothing when compared with those on the iPhone. Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at the state of Android games starting with the turn based strategy game Battle For Mars.

Battle For Mars is hardly anything new, in fact it relies all too much on being an almost identical copy of games like Advance Wars or Field Commander from the chaps who brought us Retro Defence. I guess an approach could be, if it ain’t bust, don’t fix it. So, is this just Advance Wars with a fresh lick of paint for Android?


Turn based strategy games are either loved or hated. There are few in between. In my case I have only just discovered them recently having spent many years attacking in real time. On the PSP I have Field Commander and have lost days to that game. Having a clone on my Nexus One seemed ideal. I understand Advance Wars is a similar game, however, I do not have this so I will have to draw my comparisons with Field Commander.


There is a hint of a storyline. this is not developed like Field Commander and surely feels like it was tacked on afterwards. I haven’t actually read any of these blurbs other than the first as I’m just too giddy and about getting into the action.


There is little in the way of game options. Once you have passed the title screen you will probably not see it again as all game choices are made through selecting what game type you want.


There is a large variety of maps, 12 in total, and these can be played in any order or through the campaign. When playing in Quick Start mode you are not given any info on the set up of the map, like how many adversaries you will battle. Instead you are merely offered a light tip i.e. use boats on levels with lots of water etc.


The gameplay is simple. You have a factory, a city and a Command Centre. You can build units in the factory, the more cities you have by capturing them then the more money you raise to build things. You must defend the Command Centre above all or the game is lost.
You send out a unit and the computer counter acts the decision you have made. One unit is good in a fight against a certain unit and terrible against a different one. Over time you will work out what you need to use again the computers forces to win. Capture the enemy Command Centre and you win. There is deep strategy here and just a little bit of luck thrown in.


The controls are simple. Using the touch screen or a trackball/d-pad, depending on what phone you have, you move your icon around, square by square and take your turn. Click on a unit brings up a small list of actions. You can carry out a certain amount of action with one unit, holding down the button on a unit will show you the strengths and weaknesses. It really couldn’t be simpler. Once your turn is up you watch the computer making various moves before handing play back to you.


When in combat there is a simple close up of your units taking on the computer units. They have a gun battle and depending on the strength of each unit there is damage taken on the other side to relative to this. Sending a bunch of Snipers against Soldiers will do more damage than sending them in to do battle with a group of tanks. It is rare you will wipe out a whole squad in one fight.


There is a small amount of options to make the playing conditions a little more friendly on your device, however, nothing in the way of proper settings. Sound wise there are a few guns shots and environmental effects. There is no music or speech, I guess this is a sign of the limited size games must be on the Android platform.


Battle For Mars won’t win any awards and certainly isn’t genre smashing. There is a distinct lack of features when compared to it’s bigger brothers on other platforms, it’s almost like playing an older version that has since had some nice updates. The graphics are cuddly and bright and the game play is strong and these are the games main redeeming features.

Games like this work well on the platform given the pick up and play nature of the action. Things won’t develop if your attention is taken elsewhere like with Real Time Strategy. Given a little time, anyone put off by the turn based approach will hopefully find something to enjoy.

There is room for improvement here and they are off to a good start, the game can only get better. Lets hope they keep it up.

Priced $4.99 from the Android Store.


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Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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