Star Hogs is a game featuring the word hogs in the title that doesn’t have any connection to the swine flu at all. Star Hogs is a fun game that doesn’t need silly puns to grab my attention. When I tried the lite version I felt the urge for more, and when Nigel asked if I wanted to review it I politely emailed yes but my mind screamed “Yeah go Star Hogs!”
Star Hogs is not a unique game and truth be told we have seen the different elements in the game before. What developer Iugo does is blending working elements while adding polish and love. The gameplay in Star Hogs is basically a space version of Worms with small space ships instead of worms. For iPhone you might say it is a combination of iShoot and Slingshot with some mech-customization.
Star Hogs is completely controlled by means of touch. You have a small digital pad for movement, and it takes some getting used to. Setting angle of missiles is easy and power set by holding the fire button for desired amount of power. To get a view of the enemy you can pan around the level, and zoom in and out using the standard pinch motions.
Each turn you have limited power for you Hog, and you have to choose wisely how you move to be able to get a successful shot at the enemy. The different weapons have different energy requirements depending on damage and number of projectiles. A missile consumes more energy than firing a laser for example. Missiles are fired in arcs, and you have to set the correct angle and power to hit your target. Homing missiles help a lot in hitting the enemy while other missile feature multiple warheads scattering the ground around the enemy. Machine guns, vulcan cannons and lasers fire directly in a straight line for maximum close range damage. There are a host of different mines you can place to either lure the enemy into or fire a missile into letting the mine fly.
Weapons do different kinds of damage, either to the hull, shields, enemy power or to the asteroid. This really affects your strategy; as you can either blast the enemy into smithereens, blow up the ground beneath enemy Hogs letting them fall to their death or making sure the enemy is powerless sitting ducks. Depending on the level layout you will have to become skilled in using different weapons, and different tactics. In some cases pin point aiming to send mines flying in the enemy direction is needed, in others you blast a hole through a wall to get to the enemy with your vulcan cannon. In that sence the game is really varied.
You start the game with a single Hog that you upgrade, adding parts, weapons and new slots to use. The more you load it up the slower it gets. This is a balance you have to find yourself. I have three Hogs as I write this. One that has heavy armour, and a clamp that makes it hard to push of the asteroid. This is my first line that I hope the enemy aim for. I have two nimble Hogs with extra power letting them fire more times each round. They have limited armour and armaments letting them move about finding good firing spots while the first Hog takes all punishment.
You get credits to buy Hogs, weapons and items by winning campaign levels. You can replay them or beat them at a harder difficulty level to gain more credits. This is a must when you have four Hogs you want to upgrade with new weapons. Armour, better lift and speed, shields, power and for example aiming capability give your Hogs a better chance of victory.
The AI acts according to level of difficulty as should be. From the stupid easy enemy to the harsh aggressive hard enemy from hell. As you progress and upgrade your Hogs so does the enemy, and when you meet the first enemy using homing missiles you have to do some seriously good aiming yourself to counter that using standard missiles.
Star Hogs is a serious contender as one of the greatest online games for the iPhone. Turn-based battles work great and let the game be played even over Edge as well as Wi-Fi and 3G. Having your own Hogs that you have outfitted yourself should really enhance the game play. And finally the bragging rights aspect with the online leader board should get many players all fired up.
Presentation and graphics
The Hogs look great with a lot of character, and move fluently. Particle effects and the different weapons are top notch. Having the enemy Hogs threatening and offending you by means of text is cool but I would have preferred audio comments. The backgrounds are a bit too dark, and that makes them boring but most of all it becomes harder to play the game outside.
The music is really good at setting the mood with some heavy drums and metal riffing, and I love it. The sound effects are really good with some convincing explosions. I really miss some chitter chatter that you find in Worms, here the Hogs speak by means of text above themselves. You can choose to play your own music but then you miss out on the explosions, which is a shame.
Touch controls that work really well. It takes some time to become skilled in movement as the Hogs move depending on their stats. Aiming and shooting is easy once you get the hang of the different perspectives, and how the levels have different gravity depending on the level layout.
Upgrading your Hogs is an important, and really fun part of the gameplay.
You can get a whole lot of gamelife out of Star Hogs with 32 single player missions that can be played on three different levels of difficulty.
Freeplay lets you set some parameters such as enemies and level. In this mode you can set up a 4-player local multiplayer if you want to. As it is turn-based it works really well.
Online multiplayer over Wi-Fi/3G/Edge will make this last for as long as there are players out there. The lobby looks great; sadly I was alone when I tried it but as far as I can tell by putting my ear to the ground the multiplayer works. Having your own upgraded Hogs battling it out against people around the world must be a blast. Online leader boards give you bragging rights. Gamelife in the end depends on which kind of fan base Star Hogs get.
This game is so much fun, and I am no longer waiting for Worms to come to the iPhone. Upgrading your Hogs and completing the campaign is super fun but being able to take those Hogs online is a dream come true.