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Galaxy on Fire - Alliances

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

In space, no one can hear you trade

Product: Galaxy on Fire - Alliances | Developer: Deep Silver Fishlabs | Format: iPhone | Genre: Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Galaxy on Fire - Alliances iPhone, thumbnail 1
Galaxy on Fire made a name for itself by being a premium priced, stupendously gorgeous, supremely playable 3D space combat sim in an era when Snake was widely assumed to be the only mobile game.

Heck, the original Angry Birds was a distant dream when the first iteration of Galaxy on Fire was doing the rounds.

For this third full game in the series, Fishlabs has ditched the Elite and Frontier-style gameplay in favour of a free-to-play strategy management MMO. It's safe to say that reaction to the announcement of the game from hardcore fans of the series has been mixed.

But hey, anyone can jump to conclusions, and here at PG we're going to find out conclusively whether Galaxy on Fire - Alliances is worth your time by playing it for no fewer than seven days.

First impressions

The game might not be focused on space combat this time, but it's still a handsome blighter.

Each planet you control is rendered in 3D and beautiful to look at. I spent a few minutes just spinning the first world around to marvel at each land mass and ocean. The buildings you place on their surfaces are visually pleasing, too, with an angular architecture that captures the futuristic setting well.

Each menu is clean and clearly laid out, providing plenty of information - such as when a construction of a building is estimated to finish.

So far, though, Alliances follows a similar path to other strategy management games you've played. After choosing a faction you begin creating facilities that will mine resources from the planet you inhabit, upgrade them to increase their yield, build ships so you can (I assume) colonise other worlds, and wait for timers to tick down.

I'm enjoying myself at the moment, and keeping an open mind for the time being, but intermittent connection issues and game stutters are eroding my confidence a little.

Day 3: Deep. Space

Anyone worried that Galaxy on Fire - Alliances would be a disappointingly casual release within a traditionally hardcore series needn't fret: after a few days of play I can assure you that the game gives you plenty to think about.

IAPs explained
Premium currency comes in the form of credits, which you use to speed up actions. You get free credits for logging in, and are awarded them for completing missions assigned to you, but you can also buy them. 2,800 are yours for £1.49 / $1.99.

Alternatively, you can go down the route of the Double XP Booster which, funnily enough, doubles the amount of XP you earn. It costs £1.49 / $1.99.

Then, there are various Credit Boosters, which increase the number of credits you're given for missions, and numerous bundles, which include all sorts of bits and bobs to make the game easier, including lots of artefacts to improve your ships.
There's the resource management I spoke about earlier, but there's also shifting resources around from planet to planet, producing Spy Drones at your Scanning Array to peek at the defences of your enemies, scanning for side missions to take on, attacking other planets, and more.

Everything takes time and you can only produce a limited number of buildings and units at once. On top of that, speeding up the various timers in order to advance your plans for galactic domination comes at a cost. But so far none of it has been overly expensive.

This leaves you to mostly ignore the payment model, and instead focus on strategy.

Take this situation, for example: with multiple planets under your control, and each planet having a limited number of slots to build facilities, it's perhaps a little pointless making all types of resource-creating buildings on every planet. So you could focus on making each world work as part of a larger system-level whole and ship resources to them through a network of craft.

Alternatively, you could ignore this advice and ensure each can work independently, just in case your other planets are attacked.

Similarly, you could build a barracks on every planet to ensure you have enough troops should they be invaded, or you could have a central planet that focuses entirely on the military element of your campaign for supremacy.

It's this kind of tactical thinking that is currently elevating Alliances above the rest of the typical strategy management games.

Day 7: Don't drink and drive - smoke and fly (through space)

The game explicitly tells you that you will need to ally yourself with others to survive, but by the end of my week with Galaxy on Fire - Alliances I've only just partnered up with one.

I've joined the Stoners. Not because I think our leader - Space Gos Purp - will lead us to victory, but because it was one of the very few alliances I applied to join that would let me in. I could have joined Power For Live, but it would have been just me and the guy in charge, and that would have been socially awkward.

It's a shame that it's taken so long for me to be able to experience this side of the game, as there's clearly a lot of potential here. The universe is massive, but once you're part of an alliance you feel like you have a chance of conquering it.

You form powerful connections with other players, who are happy to come to your aid should you be attacked and carry out other helpful tasks.

Already there are large factions in the game universe forming, and going up against them is detrimental to the health of your economy unless you're backed by a lot of friends.

This does highlight the biggest flaw the game currently has, though: there's no easy way of getting into an effective alliance, so you'll need some pals playing with you to get the most out of it.

But if you do have friends to play with, then there's a lot to enjoy here.

The visuals are suitably out-of-this-world, colonising planets and building them up is as addictive as it is any other strategy management game, there's plenty of flexibility allowed in your approach to domination, and the freemium aspects aren't too intrusive.

Galaxy on Fire - Alliances has the potential to be a mid-core mega hit, and whether it takes off will simply be down to how well the community playing it continues to be nurtured.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
Galaxy on Fire - Alliances
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 10 January 2014
High quality presentation, an intriguingly deep alliance system, and plenty of options for tactical play make Galaxy on Fire - Alliances a superb take on the strategy management genre
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