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Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem

For: iPhone

Where's John Connor when you need him?

Product: Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem | Developer: Vogster Entertainment | Publisher: Vogster Entertainment | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem iPhone, thumbnail 1
In the unlikely event that sentient robots seize planet earth, dousing the tin cans with water and waiting for them to rust seems a good enough plan to reclaim control.

Fortunately for touchscreen tacticians, resistance is not so straightforward in Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem. Clever tactical planning is a must in this challenging real-time strategy game that has just a few squeaky parts.

Robocalypse has you donning the Coke bottle glasses and pocket protector of Myron Mako, a programmer for robotics company Thermidoom. Unwittingly appointed proxy commander over a legion of robotic soldiers following a freak accident, it's up to Myron to thwart the machinations of the evil Demolisher across a 17-mission campaign.

Myron himself never steps on the battlefield. Instead, he controls units remotely using action points. Tapping the screen sets down an action flag that commands units to move to that location. Only special hero units can be directly controlled in combat.

By taking away direct control and using action flags, the game eliminates unit micromanagement. It makes Robocalypse easier to play, yet it hardly waters down the difficulty. The challenge lies in deciding how to manage your action flags given that you can plunk down a maximum of five at any given moment.

It's worth noting that flags come in two types: Action and Defend. The latter is actually more helpful, calling for a squad of units to patrol the marked area.

Units have a nasty habit of wandering when ordered with Action flags, whereas they stay put when asked to defend. As such, setting down defend flags reduces the amount of babysitting required of your units.

Heroes, on the other hand, must be coddled. Direct control means dictating their every action to an excessive degree. Selecting a hero enables you to issue a move or attack command. However, once the action is executed the hero is no longer highlighted. If you need to set a new waypoint or target, you're required to reselect the unit before giving the command.

Occasionally, heroes won't attack nearby enemies, which forces you to manually direct them to the target, although, to be fair, this is probably intentional to avoid heroes sauntering into enemy territory at risk of death.

The use of Action flags is important when considering the limited screen space. Selecting multiple units would be difficult given the crowded interface.

You're able to adjust the orientation on the fly, though it doesn't always improve your view. Map edges are particularly tough. An option to collapse the mini-map - which seems redundant given the appropriately small maps - would be welcomed.

Despite these squeaky parts, Robocalypse does deliver on the promise of accessible real-time strategy. Varied missions have you marching on enemy robot factories to defend an orphanage, all of which press you into contriving winning strategies instead of mindless bum-rushing.

The fact that missions lasting no longer than about ten minutes prevents things from getting too cerebral, and it suits the snackable nature of portable play.

Of course, you're welcome to play for longer, and you should. Robocalypse complements its lengthy single player campaign with a slew of multiplayer maps. Currently, four players are supported via local wi-fi, though network play is currently in beta. We'd prefer Bluetooth over the wi-fi, but we're glad to see multiplayer here and that online is coming.

The nuts and bolts of Robocalypse are solid, even if a few elements need to be greased. It's wholly recommended for the strength of its strategic gameplay, but it also doubles as a handbook for learning new robotic resistance strategies should that water plan fail to pan out.
Robocalypse - Mobile Mayhem
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 21 September 2009
Robocalypse may need to oil a few squeaky parts, but it has no problem inducing a smile with its challenging real-time strategy gameplay
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