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For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

War is hell. This isn't...

Product: UniWar (a.k.a. UniWar HD) | Developer: Javaground | Format: iPhone | Genre: Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
UniWar (a.k.a. UniWar HD) iPhone, thumbnail 1
War eh? To say it’s a horrifying, disgusting mess is like saying that licking the floor of a truck stop toilet is a bit icky. Still, it’s worth acknowledging that when it comes to games, war is an excuse for big explosions, over the top spectacle and consequence free destruction.

The typical turn-based strategy mentality - “no, after you” - can sanitise this guilty pleasure at the best of times, but UniWar’s clinical presentation borders on the peaceful. Shrink-wrapped and disinfected though it may be, however, the game does boast satisfying tactical splurges in its war chest, giving fans of the genre plenty to like and even more to love.

You play one side of what is in this case an elaborate, though never thoroughly explained, intergalactic spat. There are three different races, each of which has its own variants on the core unit types. The aim is simply to destroy your enemies and capture all their bases. To do this, you take turns moving your units around maps comprising hexagons, leveraging each unit’s unique abilities.

Marines, for example, can capture buildings, Engineers can ‘re-program’ opposing infantry units and a variety of vehicles enable you to attack by land, air, sea or across great distances.

Each unit has ten health points, which diminish when attacked. The more battle-worn a unit gets, the weaker its offensive capabilities become. This means you have to balance the number of units you choose to move, repair or re-build with the number you use offensively.

Though balance is necessary, attack is the best form of defence in UniWar. This is a game about claiming ground and taking out units rather than building comprehensive defences and amassing vast armies. As such, the flow of the gameplay is reasonably fast-paced, in spite of the game’s clipped, grid-based movement.

This in no way diminishes the tactical depth of UniWar. Careful planning and execution is essential to ensure your finite resources outlast and outperform a consistently shrewd onslaught.

Fun though the single player campaign is, the game's coup-de-grace is its solid online mode. Here you can jump into a variety of game types against other players. If you are lucky enough to find players that are playing at the same time as you, you can engage in near real-time, turn-based battles, which are enormous fun.

The really clever bit, however, is that you can also play the game over a much longer period. Players can drop in whenever they have time over the course of several days to make their moves. There are various matchmaking, profile creation and friends options too, making UniWar’s online mode one of the most fully featured of any iPhone game.

Those hoping for a high-octane polygon-tossing extravaganza will be disappointed, but beneath UniWar’s sterile exterior thumps the heart of fiery field commander. Make no mistake, UniWar might lose the occasional battle, but it wins the war.
Reviewer photo
Fraser MacInnes | 22 May 2009
UniWar's overall tone might be a little dry, but it more than makes up for it with satisfying tactical play and a peerless online mode
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