Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blue Libra 2 [Orator Games] - $2.99

Back when I was trying to get into the 4X genre, after purchasing Starbase Orion, I went through a nice little list of games that I picked out in order to try and help me understand the genre a bit better, and there are a couple that played a huge part in that; Vincere Totus Astrum, 9 Colonies and Blue Libra. All 3 of these titles are still on my iPod, and I wound up double dipping, getting both the SD and HD builds of Blue Libra after getting my iPad. It quickly turned into one of my favorite RTS titles on the platform, and when its sequel, Blue Libra 2, showed up in the AppStore, I was ecstatic. 

Now, like most sequels, Blue Libra 2 picks up where the original left off. This time, you’ll take command of the Libra II, the next step in technological engineering, and set off to exact revenge on the Alien Invaders that took over your homeworld in the last game. 
Blue Libra 2, also like most sequels, is basically, at it’s core, the same thing as Blue Libra, just with a couple more mechanics available to the player. For instance, you’re given more crafts, more objects to capture and a couple of cool new nifty mechanics including the ability to level up your ship, planets, and everything else you’re able to capture, making it harder for them to be taken away and captured by the opposing force as well as speeding up ship production, and mineral extraction. Which brings us to the second new mechanic, resources. Each object that you’re able to capture will contain minerals which you’ll need in order to produce ships. If an area runs out of minerals, you’ll be unable to build anything until more materials are synthetically produced or found. 

There is also a new researching aspect. Unlocking research is done in the same way as the previous Blue Libra, with credits given after completing levels, and then letting players use those credits to unlock research upgrades. The new research system lets you unlock these upgrades, but makes you choose to research them within each level in order for them to become active. I’m not too sure how I feel about the new research mechanics, but it definitely does add some more action to the gameplay, needing to focus on one more aspect of the game while conquering planets, bases and engaging in fleet combat.

Not only are there new gameplay mechanics, but there’s also an all new game mode. Online Multiplayer. That’s right, one of the most user requested features from Blue Libra has been added to this sequel, letting up to 4 players take part in Skirmish battles online. At the moment, there are not many online players, which makes finding a match pretty hard, but hopefully this will change in the near future. Don’t let that distract you from making a purchase though, because Blue Libra 2 contains a 32 stage single player campaign with 3 separate difficulties offering up hours and hours of gameplay to keep players busy until more gamers either pick up the game, or decide to move on to the online features. 

The graphics and animations are, like the original, nicely done, with loads of polish. You’re able to zoom in and out of the gameplay area, as well as scroll around with 2 fingers. With the game being retina enabled, the graphics look great, even zoomed in up close. Even with literally hundreds of ships on the screen at once, there’s no slowdown, even while playing on a 4th Generation Touch, which is becoming more and more rare these days. The music is fantastic and fits the mood of the game perfectly. 
The GameCenter integration, but unfortunately it does not include anything other than Multiplayer support. This means no leaderboards, and no achievements. For all of you achievement junkies out there, this might be a pretty big blow to the game, but considering the original did not include GameCenter support, it’s not really a big surprise. There’s also no real scoring system, so the lack of leaderboards isn’t really something to worry about, and although some added achievements would be nice, that’s nothing that’s required in a Real-Time Strategy title in order to drive the gameplay. 

Priced at $2.99, and being Universal, Blue Libra 2 is one game that fans of the RTS genre should definitely check out. It is strange that the game is priced at $2.99, considering the original Blue Libra HD is priced at $3.99, is not Universal, and does not contain Online Multiplayer, but I don’t think too many people will be upset about that, unless they want to experience the full story, and pick up the original as well. Though, priced together, it’s about $5 on the iPhone/iPod and $7 on the iPad, looking at it this way and considering all of the content you would get with both titles, Orator Games has priced them perfectly for the AppStore. Blue Libra and Blue Libra 2 are also available for the PC (the original is available for MAC, and BL2 is coming to MAC soon), and both have demos (available on the Orator Games Official Site) as well as lite versions if you’re interested in checking out the game before laying down the cash. But I’ve got to put Blue Libra 2 up there  with my other favorite RTS titles, especially now that there’s online skirmish battles included. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s one game that’ll fit very nicely on your device. 


Great review! I've never heard of Blue Libra but it sounds and looks like a great rts! I'm on my way to check out the demo right now.

Nice review :)
The only thing I don't like about this game, is that you can't keep the upgrades. Have to reserch them over and over. Would be nice too if you were able to replay some of the single player levels. Like if you are stuck, you could re-play some levels, upgrade some more, and try again.

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