Alien Tribe 2 steer the Fifo to their Ark

By Scott Parrino 28 Apr 2014 0

Playing a space-bound real-time 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) can be pretty challenging. You?re trying to not only scout locations, resources, and your enemy, but also plan out how you?ll build your bases, support lines, as well as manage resource-gathering ventures and create an army to wipe out your foes. I personally found them to be the type of fun where you?ll say to yourself, ?Okay, I am going to play this for an hour and finish my errands? and then a few hours later the sun is coming up and you realize you haven?t really left your desk chair at all during those hours.

It had been a while since I touched a 4X so upon receiving Alien Tribe 2 I was excited to not only get back into the genre but to try it out on the iPad. I unfortunately did not have the pleasure of playing the previous installment of Alien Trib,e but don?t worry as it isn?t necessary to have played in order to understand this latest installment. The storyline goes that the Fifo, a race of space nomads, had to make a stop in normal space (they travel via meta space). During their stop, an asteroid storm destroyed their ark ship, leaving them stranded. So it is up to us, the player, to lead the Fifo to find the missing ark pieces and construct the ship to put the Fifo race back on their journey through meta space, which involves heading into a black hole.

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Obviously we won?t be allowed to do this peacefully as space is filled with mean and evil things that like to cause trouble for our Fifo people. Unlike some 4X?s there isn?t an option to go the peaceful route here, you?ll be relying on your tactical and strategic prowess to construct supply lines, warships, and research weapons and shields to fight off the Malocs and the annoying Ci?Tan energy beings.

Now I?m sure we are all familiar with the iPad that it doesn?t use a mouse and keyboard; it?s entirely touch-based for interaction for a large majority of its games. Due to this, you?ll most likely have to navigate multiple screens to get information and keep a notepad handy or get it on the fly through units.  This was a hurdle I was not looking forward to, well, hurdle. Luckily Alien Tribe 2 handles this pretty well ? checking out important info will pause the game, and not a lot of important reading is needed once you get an idea of what each unit does, be it a construction ship, battleship, energy generator, etc. After about thirty minutes I felt like I had a pretty good handle on what each unit or upgrade does and even then when you unlock it in game, it pops up as a small side window that you can check out or dismiss with ease.

I wouldn?t call Alien Tribe 2 fast-paced, but it isn?t exactly slow-paced either. The game is played in real time, with the ability to pause.  Within a few minutes of starting of your game, you?ll eventually get a notice that the Malocs will be coming to make an attack in around twenty minutes or so. This gives you some time to set up your defenses and build your fleet. After this first attack, additional waves will come every ten to fifteen minutes to keep you on your toes. The difficulty of these attacks can vary due to the difficulty you select, and each level is appropriate in what you?ll face. Just a hint though, once you got your ark ship completed, get ready for an intense battle!

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Getting into battle and preparing for it revolves around maintaining resources on your planets in their solar systems. Your planets can generally produce a few resources, such as food, metal, energy, and so on. Some planets can only do one, some can do many more. There is no micromanaging in terms of how many workers are doing what, just four different levels of gathering the specific resources. The reason for this is because your workers will consume food, so a planet with a high population working hard to collect resources will devour food at a higher rate than planets with smaller populations with less worker intensity. Some planets produce food so this isn?t a big issue, but when you start moving into systems that have a hard time supporting life, managing your supply lines to ensure the solar systems can access your food stocks becomes important.

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There are extras called ?GEO?s, which allow you to purchase goods from the market. This is the only area of the game where there are IAPs (In-App Purchases). You can get GEOs from mining asteroids or defeating enemies, but those can be rare. While most games you?ll find on the Apple Store that use IAPs to get you to buy their gold, doughnuts, or crystals to get items quicker, be better, etc, I never felt like using the GEOs to buy resources were necessary to win Alien Tribe 2. It?s nice to have in a pinch if you desperately need resources, but it?s definitely not a ?pay to win? type of game.

Too keep you busy and focused on goals, there are missions that will allow you to build new ships, platforms, stations, and more. Think of it as a leveling up mechanic, as it involves sometimes mining asteroids, scanning deep space, destroying enemies, etc. This is a neat little feature as it has you focusing on getting through the game at a pace to not only complete the objective, but to stay ahead of the enemy. If you?re managing to somehow coast along without doing the missions, you?re probably not taking care of your Fifo people and trying to achieve their ultimate goal enough to defend them against dangerous threats. Be active! Its fun and worth it.

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Alien Tribe 2 doesn?t need 3D graphics to get you hooked, 2D works just fine and the artwork is splendid. While you?ll mostly spend your time zoomed-out to get a bigger picture of the situation, pinch-zooming in on battles can reveal some tiny fighters attacking your ships or the little bits of detail on your space stations. The planets even orbit around their suns, which is a nice little aesthetic. I never noticed any performance issues graphically; the iPad has no problem keeping Alien Tribe 2 running smooth as butter.

There a few little annoyances. The touch-screen interface for having units interact each other can be daunting. It involves dragging your finger to create a waypoint, which can either be in open space or a platform to drop off supplies or collect up some Fifo people to colonize planets. This is simplified by having your dragged waypoint automatically attach itself to a planet, platform, etc. This is all fine and good in the early game as you don?t have a lot of defenses or ships to work with that can clutter up the screen, but as the game goes on, it takes some fancy finger work to avoid this issue. It can be mitigated by zooming in to be more precise, but most players will be generally playing zoomed-out.

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Overall, Alien Tribe 2 is a good 4X game to check out for your iPad if you?re a wargamer on the go. You can save your game at any time and pick up where you left off with no issue. Along with added metagames such as competing against friends to see who can get the highest score, a challenging campaign and a not-too-intense learning curve, this is a great title for any sort of wargamer that enjoys 4X games or wants to give a tablet-style 4X a try.

Alien Tribes 2 can be found on iTunes here

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