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iPad  header logo

Warpgate HD

For: iPad

Parsec and post

Product: Warpgate HD | Developer: Freeverse | Publisher: Freeverse | Format: iPad | Genre: Action, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US
 
Warpgate HD iPad, thumbnail 1
Astronomers have convincingly debunked the wild notion of an alien-created face on Mars.

From a distance, shadows and light played with low-powered cameras to create an illusion that disappeared under scrutiny. Close observation with a high-resolution lens disproved the myth.

Likewise, Warpgate HD's mix of space-age action and economics seems compelling from afar. Scope and scale hint at an epic experience, but a closer look reveals a sloppy interface and static combat.

Freelancer

Nevertheless, the concept is undeniably exciting: chart your own course through the expanse of the Milky Way, aligning yourself with any of six factions as you conduct interstellar business and battles.

You start off as a lowly contractor in service of the Nation States of Earth, jetting around the human-occupied star systems in your clunky cargo ship. Sorties with pirates, trading missions, and other tasks net you cash so you can upgrade your ship with advanced parts, robots to mine asteroids, or buy a new vessel.

Missions just don't earn the same sort of money as trading, however.

It's the ability to buy dozens of ships and equip an array of parts - allowing you to tailor your ship for trade or combat based on your style of play - that will drive you deeper into the game's array of star systems.

Fair trade

In this way, economics is the gravitational force that pulls you from planet to planet. Your ability to play the market - buying low in one location and selling high in another - determines how much cash is in your pocket for new equipment. Unfortunately, the one-dimensional nature of the game's economics diminishes the need to be much of an entrepreneur.

The market isn't nearly as responsive to your actions as it should be. Any perceived dynamism is random. For example, I was able to purchase tons of food at Libra Outpost 6 for cheap and warp over to Nihar to sell them at nearly double the price... repeatedly.

The law of supply and demand dictates Nihar should offer less money the more food I bring it, yet there was no change.

Such a binary system makes financial wheeling and dealing in Warpgate HD a less appealing prospect that it otherwise could have been. The fact that you spend real money on in-app purchases to buy equipment underscores this.

Set phasers to stun

Sadly, combat isn't any more dynamic.

Warpgate HD fails to seize on its potential as a space game, opting for battles that grant you minimal control over the action. There aren't any harrowing interplanetary dogfights to be had here. On the contrary, the game switches to a battle screen which automates ship movement, relegating you to the status of a button-pusher.

As your equipped weapons light up green for ready, you tap them on the sides of the screen to fire at targeted enemies. You're unable to issue evasive manoeuvres or play out clever attack patterns. You can't even change the camera angle to watch your enemy explode into space dust.

In this way, the two main gameplay elements that power Warpgate HD prove to be curiously lacking in sophistication. This means your own determination to do the next deal to get the next update or ship defines how much you enjoy the game.

Dark star

And as if the twinkle hasn't already clouded over, the lacklustre presentation identifies Warpgate HD as being developed primary for iPhone and iPod touch, not iPad.

Planets looks blurry, orbiting around star systems pasted to the 2D background, and menus are rudimentary.

The interface, which consists of buttons placed at the sides of the screen, feels unfinished too. Ample screen space allows for a more robust interface than this arrangement, while the controls exhibit their own quirks too.

With these shortcomings, Warpgate HD has trouble providing evidence of its exemplary nature, particular in terms of being an iPad launch game.

Its immense scale hints at an epic adventure when viewed at a distance, and there's certainly hours and hours of gameplay on offer. Yet despite its potential, this space odyssey proves curiously unengaging.
 
Warpgate HD
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 15 April 2010
While its scale is to be applauded, Warpgate HD doesn't deliver gameplay of high enough quality to make interstellar trade and travel fun
 
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