Reviewed by Thomas
Real-Time Strategy games come in every shape and size. In Playchemy’s Space War Arena you fight for supremacy amongst the stars. Battling an ever evolving AI, you command a space station in attempt to maintain control of the solar system. Using a birds eye approach you have a narrow view of the battlefield placing your forces on the left side of the screen and your opponent opposite of you. Is Space War Arena challenging enough for all the strategists out there or is it better left to the AI?
Warp Speed Engaged
In Space War Arena you build up a finite amount of warp. As your warp builds up to ten you can spend these points on a variety of spacecraft and armaments. Each cruiser, vessel or minefield you deploy has a warp cost associated with it. Once you select a ship, you simply chose its placement on the field and it will automatically engage the enemy ships from there. You could amass your entire fleet in the center of the map and let them thrust on their merry way. That seldom works however as the AI is well equipped to defend and they counter with their own ships. If you’re not careful you will find yourself overrun at the top or bottom of the screen. Each base is divided by three shields into those sections. If your defense is neglected for too long, you’ll find surviving difficult.
The strategy in Space War Arena comes down to managing your warp and careful deployment of your ships. You may spend a high amount of warp putting a cruiser into space right in front of an oncoming nuclear missile. Using a cheap drone would have been a better option. Some starships act as snipers while others can use bio weapons to poison you. The concept sounds very simple, yet the execution is quite complex. With dozens of different ships, missiles and defense systems, you need to be mindful of your enemies capabilities. The gameplay was quite fun because each level evolved in difficulty and continued to challenge me. I was met with the gameover screen frequently. Since the matches only last a few minutes, I was rarely discouraged. After each failure, I went back to my shipyard to change my lineup of ships and defenses. I developed a strategy which worked well on several stages but it soon became irrelevant and I had to change my approach.
In addition to a provoking campaign is a mode called, evolve. These are special opponents you can face off against to level up your ships. If you find yourself struggling to clear a campaign level, you can always evolve your fleet to make them stronger. My favorite mode of gameplay however is the multiplayer option. Space War Arena utilizes the dual joy cons so two people can compete anywhere. My son and I had a lot of fun putting varied strategies to the test. Selecting all missiles and defensive units was fun to try and stop his lineup of juggernauts.
Prepare for Ludicrous Speed
The modest graphics of the ship designs are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It’s easy to tell each vessel apart and easily identify their capabilities and limits which is critical to success. The music is pleasant and the sound effects do a great job emulating a sci-fi space battle. Space War Arena was a great experience in handheld mode and on the television. Table-top mode was also used quite a bit for our multiplayer matches. The game did freeze once but was otherwise unaffected by bugs or issues.
The title, Space War Arena, made me overlook this gem. Shame on me for judging a book by its cover so to speak. Space War Arena is a lot of fun and provides adequate challenges for a real-time strategy. Some of the missions play out a little too quickly which hampers the longevity of the title. If you’re a gamer who enjoys space strategies then you should pick up Space War Arena. Since the AI reacts differently on each level and you can play with a variety of fleet options, you can play Space War Arena over and over. Not to mention the endless options when playing multiplayer with friends and family.
Conner’s Two Cents
My son had the opportunity to command his own fleet and challenge me in several battles. He really liked how each ship comes with a strength and weakness which can be offset by other ships. The gameplay was tricky for him to pick up at first as he didn’t play the tutorial or learn the specifics of each ship like I did. After a few matches and some brief instruction he was able to put up a fight.
- Diverse Fleet to Command
- Engaging Combat
- Planning Required
- Short Excursions