Ever since I played StarCraft in the late 90’s, I’ve been a fan of space-themed RTS games ever since. Most fans of the genre have always wished for a way to make these games portable/mobile, with most trying – and coming up short. I’m happy to say that despite some frustrating moments here and there, Ironhide Game Studios (makers of Kingdom Rush) new Iron Marines is hands-down one of the best examples of the genre on mobile yet, setting the bar high for RTS action on the go.
Playing like a hybrid between a cute-looking StarCraft and a tower defense game, your job is to tackle various missions, from protecting your base to taking out the enemies and their spawning points, by using your units and building structures in a strategic fashion. Thankfully the touchscreen controls make this easy to do, but hard to master as you tap structures to build units, turrets, and hero units, while holding down on a unit and swiping in any direction to move them. Once you’ve got a grasp of how things work, you’ll be off defending objectives, taking out enemies and their buildings, and so on in no time.
Unlike most pay-to-win mobile games, Iron Marines is a premium game that costs $5 and doesn’t require you to purchase any of the IAP (in-app purchases) it contains. But I have to be honest, as the difficulty spikes early in the game, you’ll swear you’re going to have to buy some extra credits, new hero units, etc in order to get past some of the tougher moments that show up. This was pretty frustrating even when I played on the easiest setting, it still manages to throw a roadblock up with it’s difficulty early and often.
It quickly becomes apparent that you’ll have to replay your starting missions quite a few times in order to level up your hero character, earn credits, as well as come up with new strategies in micromanaging of your units to bypass those tough bits.
As with many RTS titles, there’s all sorts of sweet upgrades for your units and tech to upgrade with the credits you earn from your battles. These range from giving your units more armor to having more firepower to take down any who stand against you. There’s also some cool hero characters you can purchase via IAP that can give you advantages in certain conditions, but don’t expect to buy the most expensive one and think the game is going to be a cakewalk.
Despite some difficulty spikes scattered throughout, Iron Marines is one of the best mobile RTS experiences you can have right now. If you love StarCraft and other Ironhide Game Studios hits like Kingdom Rush, you’ll want to strap on some armor and show others what being an iron marine is all about.