Real-time strategy has been a real sore point for the iPhone. The success of the far simpler tower defense game has taken the place of deeper strategy on mobiles for far too long, so consider Anthill a refreshing and much needed change of pace. While the game isn’t anywhere near as complex as the average PC RTS game, it makes exceptional use of the iPhone’s touch screen to bring gamers a surprisingly fun mix of action and strategy.
Anthill, unsurprisingly, revolves around defending an ant colony from other insect predators. To that end, players must utilize several different types of units to both defend their hill and gather resources. Resources in this case means food, and food means the dead carcasses of your enemies. Worker ants are the gatherers, but they need to be protected by the much stronger and more aggressive soldier ants.
He died a rich man.
As the game quickly progresses, bombers and spitters are added to the troupe. Bombers are easily controlled by tapping on the area in need of bombs, but hitting moving targets requires some foresight and careful aiming. Spitters can move around, but are much more at home in small holes that dot the landscape, where they can entrench themselves and more safely snipe at enemies.
To move any unit other than the bombers, you simply draw a path for the ants to follow and pick the type of unit to use the path. Double tapping a path erases it, and paths can be straight, circular, or any other shape you’d like. This enables soldier ants to guard a perimeter around worker ants collecting bug corpses, for instance. This simple system works perfectly for the gameplay, even if you can’t actually control individual units.
Stop to smell the flowers.
All units can be permanently upgraded as well, through points earned while playing or (for the impatient player) bought outright. Once you’ve mastered all the tactics for dealing with enemies, there’s not a whole lot of variety in the game’s 20 levels. The levels are timed and enemies come in waves, so the more waves you can dispatch before time runs out, the more points you’ll earn. Levels are short enough to be fun and engaging without getting boring.
While we’d like to see more variety in the units and overall gameplay, Anthill is a great example of a much-needed style of gameplay that has been remarkably lacking on the iPhone. While the game isn’t exactly a full-on RTS, it’s a nearly perfect compromise between casual fun and strategic action. Combine that with the superb presentation and Anthill is definitely worth the download.