FunkyPear's gravity-warping gameplay is back, but unlike previous titles you're not just putting around in space. In Gravitee Wars you play a bunch of adorable little space marines who want to blow up all the other differently coloured adorable little space marines because... well, because golf is for sissies, I guess, and real men solve their problems by firing a rocket into someone's faceplate. It's turn-based action with physics and strategy stirred in.
A handy tutorial walks you through everything you need to know, but the basics are simple. Move your player around the planet with the [arrow] keys, and the camera with [WASD]. Shooting is as simple as clicking on your chosen unit and dragging the mouse in the direction you want to fire before releasing. Don't take too long aiming, since you're on a timer; once you've fired, you're also given a few precious seconds to try to scamper out of enemy range. (Fortunately, you can hit [P] to pause if you need a second's respite.) Sounds simple, right? The catch, of course, is that the gravitational pull of the larger planets littering the playing field will affect your shots.
That's not all. Perform well and you'll get a cash reward you can spend between levels on upgrading your units, and buying more teammates or weapons. And of course if you're the sort of person who covets intangible pixel accolades, you'll want to shoot for the various achievements the game awards, not only for completing levels in as few turns as possible, but for things like launching an enemy into space, or taking out two baddies at once. Interplanetary warfare was never so sweet... or adorable. D'awwwww lookit his widdle limbs flailing in agony! Just remember that only completed levels are saved; you can't quit in the middle of a battle and pick it up in the same place, if you close a level before you finish it you'll have to restart it next time. Space is a harsh mistress.
Analysis: Changing an established formula is always risky business, especially when the original was so successful. If there's one thing people fear more than pop culture, it's change, and for some people this latest installment in FunkyPear's series might be too big of a change. For me, Gravitee Wars is silly, cute, and easy to pick up. The ability to replay earlier levels to earn more cash for upgrades means you won't get stuck on a level, but it also means you can just blast through the tutorial stages a hundred times in quick succession until you have a tiny death squadron at your fingertips before the fifth level. Decisions, decisions. I have to admit, I probably would have watched more Star Trek if conflicts had been settled a bit more like this and a bit less with sweaty, grunting Shatner wrestling. (I love you, Captain Kirk!)
Even enemies of different colours won't attack each other and instead concentrate all their firepower on you, which kind of makes you think that maybe you're just some jerk who hasn't learned to get along with everyone else. It can also make things annoying since some levels basically guarantee the enemy gets at least one cheap shot in the beginning at your team because of the way turns play out. While the gravity physics are fun and interesting to play with, they can also potentially be frustrating since it can be difficult to plan long shots with multipliers when you don't know how the field is going to affect your shot. Add to that the fact that gravity changes when a planet has a piece blown off, and you have a recipe for hair-pulling frustration if you want to achieve that coveted gold star.
But if you're not that concerned with pulling in a flawless track record, Gravitee Wars is a fun and clever game all on its own, with a nice bit of challenge to keep things interesting. From golf to guns, the Gravitee series has had some big changes, but still keeps the fun and clever mechanics behind it all intact. If you loved the gameplay just the way it was in Gravitee 2 (which is definitely worth a play) then the new concept and gameplay in this latest title might boggle your mind. Turns out gravity and strategy live together in harmony. Who knew?