UniWar is an Online Multiplayer Strategy Game for the iPhone

This is one for all the strategic minds out there. While it is no Starcraft, a relatively new title called UniWar, by Xpressed, has come to represent the strategy genre rather well on the iPhone platform. The game is a turn-based strategy type with three playable races, who, like Starcraft, all have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Players can play through a 21 mission single player mode by moving units across a hexagonal grid as the game teaches you how to play step by step. The game is exceedingly easy to pick up and learn as it makes great use of the iPhone’s touch screen to move units around. Of course, like with any strategy game not on a PC, the lack of a mouse can be a bit annoying to a veteran strategy player.

Despite nits regarding hardware, the single player is further broken up with the option of “skirmishes” against enemy AI (meaning there is no other objectives other than beat the enemy like there would be in most strategy game campaign modes). The only problem with this, however, is that (a) the AI difficulty is not adjustable like it is in most PC titles, and (b) only starts with one map.

If there is any one complaint to be had with UniWars is that it forces you to unlock the 50+ maps before you can play them in single-player mode. To make matters worse, the game has an awesome feature of playing two-player on the same iPhone with the same result. Not being able to play multiplayer locally to its fullest potential alienates those players to no end. It’s like throwing a party for all your friends and saying they can’t have a drink until they do some chores.

Luckily, UniWars does make up for this fiasco with an absolutely fantastic online multiplayer mode. First and foremost, the skirmishes do not suffer from the lack of maps that the local multiplayer and single player modes do. In addition to this, the online community tends to by quite active and lets you play against up to eight different players either anonymously or as a registered user.

There is no difference for game play either if you choose to remain incognito, but registered users are added to and granted access to online statistics and leaderboards, friend lists, and email notifications. Of all these features, however, the emails are of particular interest.

Whether or not email notifications are “good” is relative as one might consider it spam, but if you so choose, players can receive email notifications whenever it is their turn to move in a game. Seems pointless right? Wrong. The online multiplayer allows you to play up to 20 games all at the same time, so notification is certainly nice if you’re really into strategy games. Unfortunately, and despite how convenient it may look, the more games you are playing, the more obnoxious the notification system becomes due to poor user friendliness.

Regardless to whether or not you are connected to a game, emails will come from that game, there is no link within the mail to launch the app, and if you have games with faster paced players, they pop into your mailbox every couple of minutes or less as a new message rather than getting queued up and sent as one email. Moreover, there have been reported bugs for the toggling of such messages on and off, which only compounds the irritance.

UniWar is far from perfect. There are any number of little nuisances that could be improved and two major issues that are downright absurd (locked maps for local multiplayer and email notification with poor usability). However, the title itself is fun, and that is the sole point of game. At least from the player’s perspective. The problems that the game has are all surface problems, and are easily fixed without affecting the great game play at all Even with the glaring issues, the fact that UniWar is currently “on sale” for only $2.99 is ridiculous. This game is certainly worth more than a few dollars, and if Xpressed does fix the usability issues, they will have one hell of an iPhone title.