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Handheld gaming icon Warfare Incorporated Developer: Spiffcode | Publisher: Handmark
Rating: B+ESRB rating: TeenAuthor: Hasan Ali Almaci
Type: Real-time strategy Players: 1
Difficulty: Intermediate Released: 10-31-03

Warfare Incorporated coverWith the arrival of fast handheld computers in recent years came the emergence of a new market for portable games. In a market previously dominated by countless Tetris and Breakout clones and a few original puzzle games like Bejeweled, the arrival of fast ARM processors allowed companies to develop the kinds of games that formerly were reserved for desktops computers.

Ironic then that Warfare Incorporated, one of the best games available for PDA's today, can be played even on older outdated Palm OS 3.5 machines running on the old Dragonball processors or the equally prehistoric Pocket PC 2000 platform with support for the old MIPS processors. It really shines, however, on newer high-res machines with a fast ARM processor.

(The game was tested on a Toshiba E800 Windows Mobile 2k3 and Windows Mobile SE (second edition) machine and checked out on a Palm TungstenE for comparison purposes.)

At its heart Warfare Inc. is a game deeply rooted in the past, taking its cues from classics like Dune 2000 and Command & Conquer. Just like countless other RTS games, you mine something (gold, ore, spice, whatever), build bases, buy foot soldiers and assorted military gear, etc. You know the drill; nothing new or groundbreaking here. The story, likewise, isn't something that breaks too much from what can be expected from a game like this: two large corporations fighting for resources on an alien planet uncover some alien artifacts that could bring in some major money for the company that gets its hands on them and finds out how to harness their powers.

The missions themselves are also pretty standard, ranging from all-out melee battles (build base, totally destroy the enemies' bases until no one is left standing) to one man against all (search and protect a crashed ally and hold out for a set amount of time until rescued) scenarios and everything in between. The sound is minimalist. There is no in-game music, but the samples of warfare and voice that are in the game are of superb quality. Graphics are well done but seem derivative of the works that inspired the game.

Now reading the above you might get the impression that the game isn't all that good or not worthy of your time. Nothing could be further from the truth, though.

From the ease of use the touch screen interface provides (works similar to a mouse, only faster), to the missions themselves (well thought-out with a nice gradual increase in difficulty), to the story (progressing through pre-mission briefings, post-mission debriefings and the occasional in-game chatter), to the graphics (which are easy on the eye and well animated), the game gels extremely well to provide the gamer with an overall package that provides plenty of entertainment.

Since it is a portable game, one might be afraid that long drawn-out RTS battles might not really be suitable for occasional on-the-go gaming. These fears are soon proven unfounded, though, as the player can save the game at any point and later return to continue from the last saved spot. The game remembers where you left off, so even without loading a previous saved game you can continue the mission from where you were (leaving the saved games free to replay older missions and improve your performance or to allow several different people to have their own saved games).

The games twenty missions take between twenty and thirty hours to finish, and added value for money is provided by free user-provided mission packs. (The missions as well as the mission editor are free to download at http://www.handmark.com/warfare/missions.php and http://www.handmark.com/warfare/missioneditor.php ). Wireless multiplayer is supported as well (with multiplayer-specific maps) with both Bluetooth as well as WiFi protocols accounted for (only on handhelds that have wireless capabilities, of course).

What we have in the end is a game that works on an insane number of devices (from a Handspring Visor all the way to a Tungsten3 and even a Treo600 on the Palm side to an old Casio E125 all the way to the latest VGA screen PPC's like the Toshiba E800) yet one that does not sacrifice features and gameplay. The touch screen interface suits RTS games really well, and coupled with a fun and moderately challenging game, it will please the player for short bus rides as well as long intercontinental flights.

· · · Hasan Ali Almaci


Warfare Incorporated screen shot

Warfare Incorporated screen shot

Warfare Incorporated screen shot

Warfare Incorporated screen shot

Rating: B+
2004 The Next Level