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Developed and published by Arcen Games, AI War: Command Fleet is a galactic strategy game that pits a Starfleet Commander (You) against a well trained opposition (AI). Although the tongue in cheek title could have been a bit more creative, the game is well done for a development company in its early stages.

While the casual gamer will find the sheer volume of this game very intimidating, AIW:CF will undoubtedly have a strong draw to the RTS enthusiast.  Because of its support for a vast number of units, and exploration of a seemingly endless planetary system, it will leave gamers playing the same map for hours on end.

The main objective is to destroy the enemy AI by expanding and colonizing.  Players have to be cautious, because if they expand too quickly or try to take over every planet they come across, the enemy will take notice and ramp its defenses and star ship production up in order to stall your progress.  Only those who are patient and willing to explore the complexities of this game will be rewarded.

I can’t stress it enough; the depth of this game is staggering.  There is a tutorial at the start of the game to familiarize players with basic mechanics: colonizing, harvesting resources, exploration and combat production.

As you progress through the beginning tutorial, you’ll move on to an intermediate tutorial, which teaches war strategies and things to look out for while playing.  If that’s not enough, there is a highly resourceful wiki that helps players grow more accustomed to the controls and schemes of the game.  As you can tell, there is an extensive amount of preparation just to start a campaign.

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Once you feel confident enough to start your own game, you’ll be thrust into a randomly generated map.  Typically, a map has between 100 to 200 different planets to explore, which will roughly take ten to fifteen hours to complete.  With over 16 billion different map combinations, this game can literally go on forever.

Once in a game, players will have to quickly set up turret defenses, mine resources, set up necessary facilities and build scouts to scour the galaxy.  It is important evaluating and exploring early on as you’ll quickly discover critical points you’ll want to capture that will ensure your victory.  Once you’ve picked your spots, your next move will be to start production on tens of thousands of combat units.

What’s impressive about this game is the volume of units the game can support.  Although the graphics are 2-D and relatively dated, I found it to be quite innovating.  Generally, when an RTS game tries to do too much by finding a balance between visuals and animations, the game’s frame rate will take a beating.  With so much going on at once, having a dated graphics system was a better move.  Even with a mediocre PC, this game will run smoothly.

Similarly, what’s impressive about AIW:CF is the actual AI in the game.  What the AI does in the game is based on your actions.  If you expand and attack too quickly, the AI will take counter measures to slow you down, which is a real pain.  Also, the computer knows which units are strong against what and will use actual combat strategies to exploit player weaknesses.  It really is a tough game to play, but like I said before, if you take the time to adjust to the ins and outs, you’ll be rewarded.

Because the game is extremely vast, managing everything within a 150 planet galaxy can get a bit convoluted.  Arcen Games did a great job of creating ways of keeping track of everything, but even despite their best efforts, the game can easily become one jumbled mess quite quickly.  There have been a number of times when I’ll be exploring and thinking about my next moves, when all of a sudden my resources and energy levels will instantly diminish.  It’ll take me a few minutes to figure out what happened, and by then, it’s too late.  Keeping track of so much at once can be very frustrating.

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Despite the frustrating circumstances from managing a vast empire, the in-game music is subtle and very calming, which flows well with the whole idea of space being tranquil.  On the other hand, the sounds effects aren’t brilliant, but they do add a bit of life to the battles.  As a result, although sound is a minor part to the game, it does enough to add a thoughtful experience.

In conclusion, AI War: Command Fleet is a deep and intuitive game, but I can’t recommend it to everyone.  It is a very niche’ specific title that will only appeal to a small percentage of fans.  And even those who enjoy RTS space games will have trouble immersing themselves into it, as it has a very strong learning curve.

Those who do decide to take the opportunity to learn the mechanics will be rewarded with an intelligently designed RTS.  As an early title for Arcen Games, I wouldn’t consider it a homerun, but it definitely does take the right steps in the correct direction for an emerging development company.

Rating Category
4.0 Presentation
It's an independent title that does its best to make the most out of the resources it has. Although innovatively designed, the graphics are dated, and even after completing the tutorial, players will still feel overwhelmed.
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7.0 Gameplay
There is an intelligently designed game to be mastered, but the level of depth the game has to offer will shun the casual gamer.
5.0 Sound
The music is soothing, but the sound effects are mediocre at best.
8.0 Longevity
This game can essentially last you forever as a typical match will take about 10 to 15 hours to complete with over 16 billion map combinations to be found. The drawback is that the complexity of the game will prove difficult for players to get that heavily involved: luckily, there's 10 different difficulty levels to the game, the easier of which renders the AI considerably stupider, allowing you to learn the ins and outs of the game.
6.5 Overall
There is an intuitive and intelligent game to be found, it just takes quite a bit of patience, learning, and experience to find it.

  1. I love RTS games, I love space, and I love complexity. I might have to pick this up. Good Review.

    • avatar Lorena

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  2. avatar Oewyn

    The one thing the reviewer left out, and one of the major reason I purchased the game is co-op:

    You can play with up to 7 of your friends against the AI. The game automatically scales with the addition of players, and makes it a much more dynamic game when you orchestrate a multi-front, multi-player assault on a planet.

    Another thing was left out is the sheer number of difference ship types available in the game. In each game you start out with your basic military ships: fighter, bomber, cruiser. In addition, you also get one special unit. This special unit will have different strengths and weaknesses. Capturing advanced research stations will also give you an additional special unit. To use your fleet effectively you have to adapt your strategies to the special units you have access to.

    Do you have raptors? (which are very fast cloaking ships with long range) Then maybe you should just slip by their tachyon defenses and take out their command stations and defend against the counter-attack. Do you have armored ships? (These have high health, good shields, and decimate turrets) Make sure you send these in first through a wormhole to soften up the turrets before sending in your main fleet.

    The possibilities are really endless. Even on the same map, choosing a different starting special unit makes it almost a completely different game

  3. This totally sounds like it might be my cup of tea, as I love in-depth conquer the galaxy RTS games. Curtis I’m curious how you would compare this game to Sins of a Solar Empire. Any thoughts?

  4. I’ve never had the opportunity to play Sins of a Solar Empire, but judging from what I know of the game, it seems as though the gameplay is fairly similar.

    The real difference lies in the graphical interfaces of the two games. Obviously, Sins of a Solar Empire looks better due to a larger budget. None the less, I highly encourage people to give AI War a try.

    Believe me though, this game is not for everyone.

  5. avatar Chris Park

    As the developer, of course I am biased, but I would say that AI War and Sins of a Solar Empire play pretty differently from what I have heard (I have not played SoaSE, either). Sins comes up as a point of comparison a lot simply because both games are RTS games set in space, but controls-wise I would say that AI War is more similar to Supreme Commander, which I have played extensively.

    A number of players have remarked that AI War, while not nearly as pretty as Sins, is the game they had been wanting Sins to be based on the Sins marketing claims — basically, that AI War integrates 4X to a larger degree than Sins, etc. The only other “hard data” piece of comparison for Sins that I can give is that PC Gamer UK compared AI War and Sins directly in their November issue, and they gave AI War 86% over Sins’s 84%. Certainly opinions may vary, and Curtis clearly didn’t like it as well for instance, but it’s worth a go if you have an interest in an RTS/4X/grand strategy/tower defense hybrid.

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  6. @Chris Park
    Thanks a ton for weighing in!

    • avatar Cristobal

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  7. avatar Chris Park

    Sure thing!

  8. avatar Ross

    I like Sins of a Solar Empire, I like Sword of the Stars, I like Master of Orion II, I like Supreme Commander. However, AI Wars cannot be compared to these games in my opinion.

    AI Wars is more like an RTS mixed in with your most favorite Tower Defense game. It has some 4x to it such as the massive amounts of units you can build and the tech up aspects.

    You have to fight for resources.

    All in all, I’d give this game an 8/10 just because it is AWESOME! And I like the intelligence and time put into it, you can really feel that the developer made this a labor of love.

    I just wish the graphics were a bit better, albeit smoother. With better FX for the weapons fire and explosions. I like the 2d graphics though, it brings me back to the original C&C days.

    What I’d like to see is a new release of the game using the same engine, but with better graphics and sound. Then, I think this game would be a perfect 10!

    Btw, the co-op is really the meat and potatoes of this game. Nothing beats getting a group of guys together (up to 8) and tackling the AI. It’s so fun! And it can be done either via a LAN or internet.

  9. avatar Ailfawka

    this game reminds me so much of sins of a solar empire. except not as good.

    • avatar Anonymous

      “this game reminds me so much of sins of a solar empire. except not as good.”

      did u play it? if yes then i would understand your remark but if no i would have to say judging a game based solely on graphics and a review is a bad call. iv seen similar comment before tes:daggerfall came out and it wasnt a bad game. not only that but its sequal (tes:morrowind turned out to be rpg of the year in im not mistaken…anyway “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

  10. avatar Berzeger

    I didn’t really get into SoSE, but god, I *love* AI War! I’ve had this game for a day only and yet I spent about 7 hours with it. This game is simply amazing.

    • avatar Pika

      Quite possibly the most boirng game I’ve played on a mobile device. It’s one task over and over, it’s art design and presentation is nice, but its clear no good game designer would be making this game.

    • avatar Avigail

      They actually train tropos, and defend like they did in the original KaM TPR if you care about it and script them to do so. All you have to do is: Open Lewin’s mission editor, look for Defence positions / Defence formations / AI Town Defence / AI Agressiveness / Max Troops / AI Attacks etc. And set them as you wish. Tadaaaa. A working AI is ready. Krom did awesome work on the AI, you should be thankful, and hope it will be better in the next releases. Now be happy that it isn’t the original tutorial shower

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