Science Fiction fans gather around. If you like to give our extraterrestrial friends the “we come in peace, shoot to kill” type of welcome, here's a game that might interest you. In UFO2012, you are tasked with greeting landing parties of hostile aliens. Pick your team, select your arsenal and go forth exploring isometric landscapes and abandoned buildings. It's an old turn-based adventure game, so read on to see how well the formula translates to mobile gaming.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
The style of UFO2012 is an old one, presenting an isometric view of the game world. You play the leader of a crack international team of alien hunters. Apparently, Earth will be suffering frequent incursions of some rather gory looking creatures next year, who will be causing havoc and destruction wherever they go!
The first mission of UFO2012 is an introductory story, in an attempt to get you introduced to moving around and interacting with the game world, this is complemented by character dialogue at the top of the screen. It's at this point that I had my first complaint about the game - the text is incredibly small. Age has yet to diminish my ability to read small text, so the fact that I am writing this review with eye strain says something.
Left: Tiny fonts used in character dialogue
Right: The frequently used main menu
The character dialogues do help explain what is going on in the game, and give you the general idea of how to move around and attack enemies. Each character under your control has a set amount of action points, which are used up by movement and combat. When all of your team have used up their action points, you have to go into the game menu and tap 'End Turn'. At this point, any aliens on the scene can make their moves, including attacking your people. Having to manually push the game on each time can become quite tiresome.
The main game menu has a lot of options, such as reloading the weapon of the current soldier, switching to the next soldier, etc. There are more advanced options available as you progress, such as requesting a reconnaissance sweep of the area and calling in air strikes. The problem is that these menu options are in the same small font as the character dialogue. Not only are they tiny to read (leaving lots of empty space on the screen), but they're extremely thin targets to hit with your finger tip.
Character movement is another awkward part of the game. In theory, you're supposed to tap where you want to go, you then see a dotted path laid out with the number of required action points at the end. That pretty much works, but actually making the character move is rather hit and miss. Given that a single tap sets the destination, one would assume that a second tap starts the character moving (this is not explained in the tutorial mission). Often though, that does not work, and I found myself tapping numerous times, trying to coax my characters to move at all.
Left:Laying out a path for your soldiers
Right: There are four soldiers in this shop, can you see them all?
Size comes into play again, because the game is fixed to fitting a landscape game space across the 360 pixel portrait width of the phone. That means everything is tiny and difficult to select with a finger tip. In the example below, the team is walking between aisles in an abandoned shop. The restricted resolution makes it difficult to select anything, and the fixed perspective means that you can't pan around to get a better angle for selecting things.
This all means that you will spend most of your time trying to control the game, which is a shame. The general formula for the game could have been absorbing, with scope for exploration, character development, strategy, and combat. All of that is let down by a seriously flawed user interface.
[editor's note: I see this game is also available for S60 3rd Edition phones, with (presumably) a much better font and graphics mix. However, this doesn't excuse the game from being appallingly mismatched for all the nHD smartphones, which are surely in the majority for AAS readers by now]
UFO2012 is available on the Ovi Store for £3.00. This is at the upper end of the price scale for Symbian games. Given the other high quality titles you can buy for the same price, I cannot justify a recommendation for UFO2012.
David Gilson for All About Symbian and Ovi Gaming, 26th July 2011.
Reviewed by David Gilson at