For the last weeks I have been player the latest space exploring game by Freeverse, also available for the iPad, Warpgate [iTunes Link]. Set on a sci-fi outer space far far away future, you're a lonely pilot in an universe controlled by several factions and pirates. You're in control of your ship and your destiny, being able to chose missions to complete to progress further in the game. Pretty much like the GTA dashboard.
Most of the action in Warpgate happens while you navigate the planet systems with line-drawing gestures, warping to other systems and landing on planets to trade. Different space regions are inter-connected with warpgates, a sci-fi teletransport link between planetary systems. In order to reach your destination, you will often need to use several warpgates, crossing different planetary systems, more or less violent and control by factions in war.
The game will start assigning you missions, that once completed will allow you to navigate freely around the universe. While you explore space, you can try to make some money mining asteroids - A mini robot will land on it, extract the goodies and sell them at the local market to transfer the funds to your account. Oh yes, this is the future! You can also trade commodities selling them in other planets (including slaves in some dodgy areas). You can also upgrade and buy a new ship too.
While the wide selection of items available has a good size, specially to cover different needs, the MMO menu style can be annoying. The button placement while on a planet is not convenient at all and the animations can get very repetitive. The controls in the space navigation mode are fine and are easy to pic up. The ability to zoom in and out using the pinch gesture helps a big deal, and I imagine that in the larger screen of the iPad is even better.
You will bump into other spaceships while you travel, and angry pirates will often attack you. Once this happens, you enter in the fighting mode. This is an obscure area for me, since the game says you can use the accelerometer, but I don't understand what to do with it. In this mode you can't control de course of your ship - presumably if you find out how to use the accelerometer control, you could. You simply select the order of your weapons be fired up, and eventually see your ship destroyed. It's like a real time RPG fight with the drawback of not knowing what the hell you're firing. I managed to get killed enough times to avoid any pirate encounter. I only "try to help" collecting all the cargo from the defeated spaceships.
Despite having these issues, I have enjoyed the game and must admit that its one of Freeverse's best games. It has variety to keep you entertained that could be complemented with some small games, it has management and trading, automatic dogfight battles and very cool ships! The WIN in this game is the ability to explore on your own and find things like the ones in the screenshots. Pretty crazy I must say.
Overall I get the feeling that the iPhone just doesn't benefit from the small screen in this one. Zooming out on an iPad will make wonders, but is tricky to tap light years of distance on a small scale. Definitely a recommended game to sit down and kill some time. I can't wait to try its big brother!