The gist of the game First Contact by Glinkie Games is to save your planetary colonies from incoming missiles and space alien ships; a kind of “missile command” theme (for those who can remember this game). The attacks come in waves of ever-increasing numbers of threats. Your job is to survive each wave by defending your colonies. It only takes one strike to destroy a colony. No recovery is possible.
My first impression of First Contact is “this is fun.” It has cool 3D graphics (stars, a milky way type of galaxy and a sun or supernova). You can zoom in and out in typical multi-touch manner. Rotating your planet is like a Google Earth experience as you try to find and eliminate threats. That means up and down, back and forth and any angle in between with easy finger flicks.
Cool graphics aside, I found I needed to be more mindful of the game rather than infatuated with the sights. Around wave five, a new threat enters the screen, space ships. They hover over your colonies and seem to do a “body snatchers” kind of thing with a beam ray. As the game progresses, some of these space ships become particularly pernicious as you must hit them more than once to destroy them.
Each colony under attack emits a red sonar type wave letting you know they spot an incoming threat. Each round your colonies survive, gains you a 1,000 point bonus per colony. Ultimately, you want as many points as you can muster to acquire standing in the community. The game will export your score to a community scoreboard (The number one spot is in the area of 121,000… someone with too much time on their hands, maybe?).
Every five waves you survive, you get a nuclear bomb that eliminates all the enemy targets on the screen in one fell swoop; or in this case, one big shake of your device. The screen flashes white and, poof, the enemy are all gone. This is a cool bomb, but I found you really should try to save it till later in the game when the incoming hoards become unbearable because they are moving faster and starting closer to your colonies.
Around wave seven or eight, I couldn’t keep up with the threats any more and the game almost seemed futile to play. No amount of gyrating and spinning around the board made my finger targeting accurate enough to pick off targets quick enough to save my colonies. And that’s the pain, hearing the explosion of a colony is painful. It’s a higher pitch explosion, and the colony is simply gone. All that remains are smoking heaps of debris.
Two particular problems I encountered:
1. As the wave threats became more numerous and you must move faster, hitting threats in the lower right corner of the screen became difficult because the pause button is located there. A few inadvertent pauses can break your flow.
2. In my flurry to quickly hit incoming targets, any tap on the planet caused the view to change, most of the time about a ninety degree shift. In the latter stages of the game, that’s absolutely deadly as you lose that one or two seconds you need to defend that last colony.
Bottom line: Despite some of these minor issues, I do like First Contact. Glinkie Games did a good job with this. It’s well rendered and challenging. It’s easy and intuitive to pick up. It’s great for killing 15-20 minutes. I recommend it if you like “defender, blow-em-up” type of games. I think you’ll get a kick out of First Contact, I did.