By iPads around the world, I mean my iPad. And by nations, I mean me.
Eclipse, the epic 4X board game has been implementized into the iOS universe and man is it a sweet thing.
This is coming from someone who’s never actually played the physical board game. I’ve seen videos and read reviews and longed after the day where I could get enough people together with enough time to have a few consistant games. I just don’t see that happening in my life though, so I had given up on Eclipse for a while.
Then I heard that an iOS version was in the works and I was both interested and a little concerned. It’s a fairly complex game. And it’s a fairly expensive game (MSRP well north of $80). Thankfully the iOS version is extremely well done and sells for a mere $6.99. I know that has some app lovers up in arms, it is a fairly expensive price as far as games for the iPad goes. Keep in mind the original MSRP of the board game though, and realize that you’re getting one hell of a great game for what you’d pay for 2 or 3 cups of coffee.
I’m not going to go into a detailed review of the game play itself. You can find tons of reviews of the physical game online (start with the Dice Tower if you’d like).
What the iOS implementation has done has taken a big game, and put it on to an 9.7″ screen. What they’ve managed to do though, is make it feel a lot bigger. The game itself plays smooth, seems to be wide open, can be zoomed easily in either direction and just plain works well.
Another really important thing that’s been done is that all the fiddly bits of the physical game have been boiled down to behind the scenes programming, which I find wonderful at times. If you check out that Dice Tower review, you’ll see boards, cubes, ships, technologies and all the things that go into an epic 4X game. All that is taken care of for you, so you can concentrate on strategy and game play.
Two thing I’ve always feared with games like Eclipse are cat attacks and table bumps, either of which could actually stop or ruin a game. The third thing I feared is that I wouldn’t really like the game and it’s a pretty hefty investment.
Now I have no worries on cats and bumps. If I had the players and the time to justify buying this game, I’d go out and get it in a heartbeat.
I will say that the combat animations are slightly cheesy, but other than that, this game is great. There is a bit of a learning curve for people like me who haven’t yet played the physical game. Those who’ve already played it will be able to jump right in and run with it.
This game won’t be for everyone. It’s about as far from a casual board game implementation as you can get on iOS. My average game time is about 40 minutes for a 2 player, human vs human game. Bring in more AI or online players and it’ll probably get longer. But damned if it isn’t a great game! I’m already looking forward to playing it again.