Quantum Collapse finally a worthy RTS

Posted: June 14, 2009 in Strategy

Over the past few weeks, Rise of Lost Empires and Stragea were released with expectations that they were the next great RTS’ for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Unfortunately, those expectations for many fell short for a variety of reasons including poor execution, weak AI and a lack of content among others. A new RTS entrant, Quantum Collapse was released with minimal fanfare and even less in terms of hype. Maybe that’s a good thing because Quantum Collapse beats out those others in gameplay and design, and in some ways even beats Warfare Inc. in delivering a solid RTS experience.

The underlying theme in Quantum Collapse is that the humans are building a base to mine Xeron when they suddenly come under attack by some unnamed foe. The game consists of 13 levels and offers 3 levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. Currently, the game doesn’t offer skirmish or multiplayer mode, but those are on the way. One unusual aspect is that you don’t actually choose the level of difficulty until you complete several mini-missions. These missions involve setting the mining facilities, establishing specific structures and even destroying an enemy base. In other words, you’re already immersed and hooked before you even select the level of difficulty. The game has 4 save slots so I experimented a bit with the different AI levels. Easy is well, easy for an intermediate-level player such as myself; medium is tough with some rough spots; and hard is overwhelmingly difficult in terms of enemy aggressiveness.

In the game, there are 11 moving and stationary attack/defensive units per faction including Tank, QuadWalker, Missile Soldier, Rocket Launcher, Aerial Jet, Ground Turret and the Atlas, a heavily armored vehicle with dual weapon arsenal. Here is the breakdown as provided by the dev:

3 vehicles
3 airships
1 soldier
2 super units
2 turrets

There are also two neutral units: Gatherer and Engineer. The Gatherer vehicle produced through the Command Center is the most important vehicle you have because it both gathers Xeron that generates money, and it also builds structures. 8 structures are available for your construction needs including Power Plant, Commlink, Barracks, Ground Factory, and the Research Center which is where spells (special weapons) are developed.

Units and structures have their own special attributes and their own set of power ups and cool downs that can be activated. For example, if a tank or QuadWalker need a boost, their special power up is a temporary shield, while a Missile Soldier has the special attribute of sprint. The buildings also special attributes, generally in the form of faster regeneration and repair. So there is plenty of depth in terms of the various units and structures that should add to your strategic planning. Another aspect of Quantum Collapse as I mentioned is the use of spells (think cataclysmic) and when triggered, a reticule appears that can be moved around the map to aim and finally activate.

Moving around the screen can easily be done by dragging the screen, and the ability to zoom really provides a good bird’s eye view or an up close and personal look. The graphics and battlefield designs are well thought out, and I noticed very little lag on my iPod Touch 2g.

In playing the levels, I found them varied combining a mix of standard RTS, commando-like missions and tower defense. Once certain structures are built, the gameplay is very straightforward. By tapping on them, certain units are produced. For example, tapping on Barracks will generate Missile Troops, while the Ground Factory produces Quad Walkers and Tanks. The interface is highly functional, and you can have up to six units in production at once per structure. A mini map is located in the upper right corner, and shows your base and deployed troops in relation to enemy forces.

In moving units, you can either select individually by tapping or zoom into a specific group and tap Select Air and Select Ground located at the top of the screen, which allows for the mobilization of units in the respective category. Honestly, I wish there was a pinch function to select, but you soon get used to the current set up.

While the gameplay is solid, the main thing keeping Quantum Collapse from getting an “outstanding” rating is the surrounding presentation (the menus and the storyline cut scenes), which is a little rough around the edges. Compared to the rest of the game, it’s almost surprising. The small print text can be long and difficult to read, and the cut scenes in most cases are unpolished. One way to view this is the game itself is great, but the packaging needs work. The dev may want to take a look at Mecho Wars and Clue for ideas on how to present text in an elegant yet visually attractive format.

Should you buy Quantum Collapse? Responsive controls and content depth, as well as challenging and long gameplay make this an easy recommendation over other current RTS games. I’m looking forward to new units, online play and skirmish mode where the dev can only further show his talent.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those who want the immersive experience a great RTS delivers)

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