Review: Quantum Collapse brings quality Real-Time Strategy to the iPhone

We’ve been waiting for this. Finally, a developer creates a quality Real-Time Strategy app for the iPhone. No, it wasn’t one of the big iPhone game developers. Instead, it was made by a team of just 5, led by Javier Davalos, who don’t even have their own website (they use this Facebook page for now). Quantum Collapse brings Starcraft-like real-time strategy gameplay to the iPhone… with a few hiccups. Despite the frustrating flaws of the game, Quantum Collapse is a bargain at $3.99 and a game any real-time strategy fan will be happy to have on their iPhone.

The game is like any other real-time strategy (RTS) game in that you are tasked with the job of building an army to protect your base camp, while simultaneously trying to obliterate the enemy’s camp. In Quantum Collapse, you act as the “Administrator” and have a bird’s eye view of the planet in the year 2318. You have Gatherers who are responsible for mining for Xeron, the currency of 2318 (It starts with an X, so it’s from the future.) These gatherers then use the Silicon to build various factories, turrets and buildings around your “command center.” The buildings allow you to train soldiers, tanks and four-legged aliens to fight on your behalf. Basically, your goal is to amass an army the size of Caesar’s and then descend upon the enemy and ruthlessly destroy everything in sight.

Quantum Collapse walks you through a series of missions, each with a completely different flavor and feel. In some missions, your job is to simply defend your base camp for 5 minutes against a seemingly unending barrage of enemy combatants. In other campaigns, you are not even provided with enough resources to build up your army. You have one alien fighter, and your job is to escort an unarmed scientist through hostile territory, carefully eliminating target after target as you wind your way to the final destination. I absolutely loved the diversity of the missions, and thought that the overall design was fantastic.

The experience from level-to-level was great. Davalos really thought through how the user should explore the various features of his RTS environment and crafted the game in a unique and engaging fashion. The storyline that surrounded the mission, along with still-frame cut scenes, was, well, unique. Though not at all professional (there are curse words and colloquial language), it was comical and enjoyable. I found the “The enemy is going to $%#@ you up” language to be refreshing, and only the type of thing you could find from a less established developer like Davalos.

The gameplay was good, but not outstanding. There were some features that the game sorely lacked, which really prevented it from being an A+ game. For example, you are required to build lots and lots of soldiers and attack vehicles in the game. Sometimes you have anywhere from 100-150 units on your screen, so many that you can barely see the ground beneath them. However, there is no easy way to select the ones you want (say, half of the group). And often times, you find yourself manually clicking on each unit and directing them individually. That said, the AI he has developed is solid, and there is a “select all” button, which selects all of the units on your screen. It somewhat avoids the aforementioned problems and you are able to move your army around in a large mass rather easily. It just gets tricky when you want to split the group into two.

Another problem was trying to select/click on buttons. The buttons in the game were too small and I often found myself having to tap my finger on the button two or three times before the game would select the button I wanted to press. I have rather slender fingers, so I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone with bigger hands. At times, this was so bad I was ready to give up and move onto the next review.

Adding a bit of fantasy to the Sci-Fi mix, Davalos has incorporated magic into the combat system. You can build a Research Center which can learn various types of spells that can be used to incinerate (literally) your enemy in flames or defend your base against hostile spells. These spells add a unique twist on the RTS genre, and satiate the narcissism of those who play RTS’s in order to feel like God. The magic feature is definitely interesting, and substantially enhances the gameplay.

However, the graphics were a definite drawback. I know that it is hard to make tiny soldiers on an iPhone screen look good, but the Quantum Collapse environment could have looked much better. Alas, I spent much of the time playing the game wondering: what if Davalos had a full design team? How much fun would this game be? One can only hope that another, more sophisticated RTS game for the iPhone comes out.

Nonetheless, if you like RTS games, you will be elated that this game exists – and that ecstasy will encourage you to overlook the game’s flaws. It is also cheap, and the game has many more features than a traditional $4 game on the App Store. No matter what, Davalos has made one thing clear: the iPhone is a great platform for RTS games (and, well, just about everything else, too). This game will definitely satiate your desire for a solid RTS game, and I would definitely recommend it.

What we like:

  • RTS FOR THE iPHONE! What kind of true gaming fan wouldn’t be excited about this? Quantum Collapse is a great way to kick off the genre, and we can’t wait for more games like it to come out to try and compete.
  • Price. $3.99. Yes, that’s it. A full RTS game with plenty of bells and whistles for just $4.
  • The overall story. The diversity of the missions was huge for me – and kept me on my feet during the entire game.

What we didn’t like:

  • The graphics could use a tub or two of polish.
  • Controls. Though it was far from un-playable, the controls made the game frustrating at times and I often found myself losing a unit or two because I couldn’t press the button I wanted fast enough.