Early last year, Rodeo Games treated the App Store to an excellent turn based strategy title, following in the footsteps of such games as Xcom. Now they’re back with Hunters 2, but can they improve on what was already an impressive strategy game?
The initial signs are good. A short text-based introduction goes back over the premise from the first game; corporations have taken over the running of the Earth and all other human planets. The only law is money and power and teams of mercenaries are paid to keep the law. This is where the Hunters come in. A team of mercenaries that, in the first game, got caught up in some dodgy dealings and now find themselves on the wrong side of just about everyone.
The game immediately catches the eye from the first training mission. Instead of the metallic space-station levels from the original there is a lush but deadly jungle planet. The graphics have been beefed up and now appear from a skewed top down view, with characters almost side-on rather than the straight top-down approach of the original where you could only see the Hunters’ heads. This adds far more depth and detail to the characters without encroaching on the functionality. Characters also feel chunkier and it’s easier to distinguish while scenery has been thoughtfully designed.
Of course, it’s not long before you find yourself back on those metal futuristic floors and also in a heap of trouble as other mercenaries are sent to clean up the mess (i.e. you). Tactical play is required to fight your way out of tough situations, utilising the strengths of your party and levelling up/buying new tools and weapons to help against the enemy. New enemies help to make this feel like an advancement to the first game, including some interesting and agressive wildlife and a new enemy, in the form of an alien species.
Careful plotting and use of the ‘guard’ function is the only way to survive this game. Just as with the original, many restarts will be required to make your way through each level and only the patient strategist need apply here. That’s no bad thing, of course. The game will easily appeal to those who have been brought up on Space Hulk, Xcon and the other major PC turn based titles. The action is certainly more suited to an iPad than the smaller screen of the iPhone, though.
Movement, shooting and other actions are kept in check by a points system. Each character has a set number of points, upgradable through add-on armour, which need to be used wisely and balance comes from choosing whether to use them for defence, attack or movement. Upgrades come via money earned during the game and can be used to buy armour, weapons and packs in the store. A nice touch is the ability to find new weapons during the game and use them, saving precious coinage in the process. Thankfully, the armour, new weapons and points systems seem to be more streamlined in this game, making it easier to determine which upgrades to go for.
If you do find yourself flying through the levels like some master strategist, Rodeo have plans for you with the Hardcore mode. This new feature offers a significant step up in challenge, including whittling down your team once they die, rather than giving them back to you after each mission is completed. Expect a crushing challenge (I did and subsequently failed).
Even though the game’s introduction promises much from the initial setup, the story doesn’t really feature all that much throughout the game and personalities never appear to be an important aspect. It’s a shame that the interesting plot isn’t expanded upon as this would provide the player with a reason to empathise with each of their characters, making it all the more jarring when one of them takes a shot and gets killed in action.
Also missing is a multiplayer aspect, something the game is crying out for. Facing off against a fellow gamer on one of the many maps would be an ideal way to add longevity to the game. Instead, daily missions return, filling the gap once the main storyline is complete. I hold out hope that Rodeo will consider providing a multiplayer option in a future update.
Even without multiplayer, though, Hunters 2 is still one of the best strategy titles on the App Store and improves on the original game without changing those parts that made the first game so good.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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