Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 05/12/17 | Genre: Strategy
With the changes 2K Games has in mind for the X-COM franchise, there is a big void left in the strategy space. Fortunately for owners of an iPad device, there is Hunters: Episode One HD to satisfy the hunger for the strategy genre. Recently relaunched with a new price point, Hunters: Episode One HD has you lead a squad of marines on a variety of independent missions to gain experience, upgrade skills, aquire new equipment, and increase the number of squad members you have. It does this all with a style and gameplay that is perfect for Apple's Tablet device.
Players begin with a small squad of marines. You are taught the basics in a tutorial: how to place your units, how to move, how to attack, how to defend, and how to end your turn. Once this ends, the main mission screen appears via a spaceship. Here players are able to purchase new equipment--including the ability to randomly recruit new members to their squad, change skills, and choose your missions. Every 24 hours a new listing of missions appear. These are randomly generated each day and include a variety of themes such as: Save the Scientist, Kill All, No Squad Member Dies, etc. All missions also include bonus objectives that will provide even greater financial rewards if you can complete them.
Developer Rodeo Games does not make things easy. Each mission can be extremely complex and you will need to use the right mix of weapon types and strategy to beat the level. If things do go wrong--something that can happen quite often--the only penalty for losing is some currency lost. Your squad will still be intact.
In addition to the daily missions you can go on, Rodeo Games also includes bonus equipment for you to obtain by clicking on in-game ads. Though we all hate ads, for some free equipment, I don't mind looking at it for a few minutes.
Though the story is extremely lacking, the focus on the game is its strategic gameplay. This is where Hunters: Episode One HD really shines. You view the actual gameplay map via an overhead perspective. The standard "pinching" gestures will zoom in and out and you can also use a clockwise or counter-clockwise gesture to pan the camera around. Characters can move a predetermined amount of spaces each round based on their armor type. A light armor wearer will take the most damage but be able to move the maximum number of spaces--while heavy armor will barely get any movement.
Using weapons also takes up your movement gauge. So if you are a heavy armor wearer with a flamethrower or rocket launcher, you can move or fire. This greatly increases the difficulty and causes you to think before moving. Sadly, there is no way to "undo" a movement or action once you have already completed it. Experience is gained, in the field, by damaging and killing enemies.
Visually, Hunters: Episode One HD won't be winning any awards. The graphics are muddy, hard to see details, and sometimes the characters are hard to see on the backgrounds. For a first attempt at the franchise, on IOS, I give Rodeo Games a pass as the gameplay is really fun and engaging. Though I do hope for a bit more story structure in the future, Hunters is a fun way to spend time on your iPad. The pros far outweigh any cons on this IOS title.