About two years ago I reviewed a bunch of sci-fi themed mobile games that I thought might appeal to the discerning BattleTech fan. Among them was a neat little turn-based sandbox-style strategy game called Templar Assault that reminded me of a grid-based MegaMek if it were dropped into the Warhammer 40K universe. The pay version of the game included an ungodly number of missions and campaigns (100 levels at last count) where you could fight an array of aliens, robots, and other humans. Fighting in Leviathan Battlesuits- essentially Wanzer or Gear-size mecha sporting an array of autocannon, flamers, sword and axes, the Templar is an extremely efficient death machine. But not unstoppable. There is cursing aplenty as you start to lose your troops- a reason for a six-tier difficulty rating.
It was only the Trese Brothers‘ second game, and since then they’ve learned quite a bit about their craft and the business of making games. Templar Battleforce is now out for Steam, and soon for Android and IOS- their old stomping grounds. I also managed to get a few questions answered from the team- Cory, Andrew, and Martin Trese.
[Ron] Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule. By your standards, Templar Assault is a very dated game now. What has changed in the years since?
[Andrew] Templar Assault is coming up on its fourth anniversary. It has been one of our most loved games. In between, we’ve made 4 other games and gone through 2 KickStarters and a major game engine update. Everything is new, and you’ll see that front and center in the tactical game play of Templar Battleforce, rich soundscape and visceral combat.
“TACTICAL ‘MECH COMBAT RETURNS TO THE PC.”
I was a backer of MechWarrior Tactics before it fell apart amidst development. MechWarrior Online is alright from the first-person view- vehicle simulation side, but I was hankering for something a little closer to the original source material, and with a much richer immersion in the interstellar politics and intrigue that makes up the BattleTech universe. Personae Studios‘ MechWarrior Tactical Command was, in my opinion, an unsung classic game that gave me a mobile MechCommander fix. But the game was fairly short and its title’s similarity to MechWarrior Tactics as well as its exclusivity to high end Apple mobile products made it instantly obscure and isolated. Of course there is always Megamek, but for one reason or another, I’ve never really had a good experience with it.
I reviewed Ep0ch last year during my mobile game round up series. First released in 2011, Ep0ch is set in a post-apocalyptic city besieged by warring robots used as soldiers by rival corporate AI. You are Ep0ch, a kind of bodyguard robot called a guardian in search of Princess Amelia; your charge. Built in Unreal 3, Ep0ch was the most graphically advanced game I had seen at that time on a mobile platform. The campaign was linear, but there was an arena mode to rack up credit and experience points to upgrade yourself. It played like rail shooters such as Time Crisis; only in third person with you swiping to move Ep0ch in and out of cover to get a better firing angle on or avoid the fire of various robot enemies. Weapons were numerous, as were support systems and armor upgrades.
Courtesy of Uppercut games.
Ron: I recently spoke to Ed Orman of Uppercut games; which developed Ep0ch and its sequel, Ep0ch 2. From what I’ve seen from the trailer, Epoch 2 initially seems very similar. In the original, the environments seemed pretty close in, with lots of dark alleyways and ruins to fight in. The sequel seems to be much more open and dynamic with both its setting and its 3rd person view. What’s changed this time around?
Having mainly missed PC gaming in the ’90s (with a few exceptions) I only recently discovered the 4X empire-building sub genre. According to the Wikipedia entry, 4X is described as: “a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”. The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since then, others have adopted the term to describe games of similar scope and design.”
Empires in Exile, like Star Traders RPG before it, is a 2D grid-based game set in space. Unlike RPG where you navigate established shipping lanes and take jobs or explored colonized or surveyed worlds, this time you are the hand that establishes and guides an empire of your own. It seems similar in scope and concept to BattleTech’s Interstellar Operations, if it were played during the Star League era since you are essentially the Star Lord. Different factions within your empire quarrel, sometimes with trade restrictions or clandestine operations. And sometimes with open warfare. Either way, it’s in your interest to quell the problems at home while expanding your empire.
M2: War of Myth Mech by Interserv
There’s been a new wave of mobile big robot games, and one of the more interesting I’ve been playing lately is one that’s hard to categorize. As you might expect with a game with such a clunky title, M2: War of Mech Myth is a rough translation. I just call it Mecha Warriors of Myth or M2.
Developed by Taiwan-based company Interserv, M2 is a fusion of style and form. It’s a fun little beat-em-up/shoot-em-up that has you playing both a human character (male or female) that can wield a sword or some other melee weapon that can call upon and turn into a large, Super Robot Wars-style mecha with its own weapons and abilities. Shades of Moonwalker’s “Mecha Jackson”. You better be swift though because you can only stomp and jump around in robot mode for limited time based on your level.
I used to be a gamer. A giant collector of big robot games be it Cybernator on Super Nintendo through Chromehounds during the early years of the XBox 360. And of course the MechWarrior and MechCommander PC games. These days I’m busy and on the move, so portable games have been a go-to theme with me in looking for reportable articles.
Two weeks ago a teaser trailer was posted to the Droidgamers website for an beat-um-blast-em game called Mechs vs. Aliens. It looks like it was just released. If you like games like Super Smash Bros, it looks like team Turnout Ventures had that in mind when producing the game.
Courtesy of Turnout Ventures
I think the ‘hero’ mech, that is the one featured most prominently in the feature is fairly reminiscent of the Baboon clan ‘mech, and seems to share the Baboon’s missile loadout. There really isn’t much else on the game at the moment. Not even a release date yet. But you can follow on Facebook.
Looks like a decent tablet game. Stay tuned for a review.
Well bargained, and done.
I sit here scratching my head because of how inane it seems at first. But then it slowly starts to dawn on you. Yes, MechWarrior Tactics is a great attempt at bringing the heart and soul of a tabletop wargame to your PC as a videogame the way that Baldur’s Gate did for RPGs. Especially the multiplayer dynamic.
But forget about the well animated sprites and combat, and the voice acting and pretty much everything that screams “VIDEOGAME”. Instead turn it into a medium for crafting your own Friday night gaming sessions on your iPad or smartphone and then having a virtual tabletop with 3D counters, character portraits that everyone in your group can interact with.
3D Virtual Tabletop is a recently-funded Kickstarter project that lets you do just this:
With multiple counter sizes and the ability to import even Megamek or hexed satellite images, instant BattleTech map
People who follow my articles have probably noticed that I like to spend time noticing “Little Guy” independent developers of not just table top games and miniatures, but videogames as well. The Trese brothers Cory and Andrew definitely fall into this category. And their passion for science fiction and fantasy shows if you look at their games featured on the Apple App Store and the Amazon and Google mobile markets. With tens of thousands of downloads each since 2010 and rating averages at 4.5 out of 5 and above, these indies are doing something right.
As of today Team Trese have four games released: Star Traders, Templar Assault, Cyber Knights, and Age of Pirates. A fifth game, a fantasy RPG called Heroes of Steel, is also in development. And activity on their forum strongly suggests other projects. I’ll be concentrating on the three sci-fi games.
First is the visual and gameplay styles shared by all the games so far. Being primarily for mobile consumption, Trese games are colorful and visually simple with limited sprite animation. To many, if not most In the younger generations, this will probably be seen as a negative given the genres. But for those with older phones or those old-school Commodore and Amiga users from my generation, the games might get you right in the nostalgia zone.
Be aware that although you can stop playing and save at any time, these aren’t really pick-up games, and you can forget what you were doing after a long hiatus if you saved in the middle of an important mission or job. Also of note is that despite their increasing catalog of games, Trese Bros regularly update their games. Not just to fix bugs, but to add and expand on new features and content. There are often monthly challenges announced on the forums that can be a source of fun and competition. Trese Bros. are also available on Facebook and Google Plus.
STAR TRADERS RPG
The Little Prince Never Stood a Chance…
I know that I’ve mentioned this game more than once – specifically hoping it would some day show up for Android. As it still hasn’t come out for Droid, I managed to wrangle my girlfriend’s iPod while I get my game on – I mean review this promising spiritual successor to the MechCommander series. It’s currently $3.99 in the AppStore. And so far that’s a lot of bang for the buck.
With ‘Mech lab customization for thirty ‘Mechs, auxiliary unit support coming from remote sensors and fire missions, and a cast of believable and obscure but canon characters from the heyday of Operation Revival, MechWarrior Tactical Command is a BIG game in a small package.
50 tons of iPod space available. Courtesy Personae Studios. Copyright All Rights Reserved.
I was just updating some of my games the other day (several of which I have reviewed here) when I decided to lurk Google Play and the Amazon App Store. BattleTech, mecha, ect are among my favorite keywords, and right away I ran into Mech Factory, a kind of mobile library by Phoenix Wolf. Based out of Hungary, Mech Factory is the latest in a series of products, including a novel series and website member features. (This wouldn’t be canon work. Catalyst was fairly specific in what is considered canon).
They are even working on an AeroTech/BattleSpace mod for IWAR2:Edge of Chaos. I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for this mod.
Canned TROs and Record Sheets- now on your mobile device.
Mech Factory is free to download from Google Play if you have Android OS 4 or better. It covers only BattleMechs, BattleArmor, and Prototypes as well as their equipment. No aircraft, spacecraft, vehicles or unarmored infantry as of yet. If you have access to wifi, it’s advised that you play around with it some because the first time you view a page or a record sheet it has to download from the server. After that it will load straight from your phone. Those with limited data plans might hang out in a restaurant with free wifi for lunch one day and read up.
You can print the record sheets if you have wifi or USB access. If you move the app to a micro SD card you can also load it for printing at a Kinkos, library, etc. A bit more about their website, it’s a shame that so much of it is in Hungarian. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful that Hungary has a booming BattleTech and MechWarrior community. But it looks like they have a lot of original content that we in the west will never see, canon or not.
Oh well, at least I can enjoy reading real TROs without necessarily needing an internet or wifi connection. You can also follow Mech Factory on Facebook.
Well bargained, and done.