The real-time strategy genre is mostly found on the PC. Such games have appeared on consoles and handhelds over the years, but most systems without a full keyboard and mouse setup simply can't control as smoothly as their PC counterparts. Handmark's Warfare Incorporated is the first real-time strategy game to appear on the Zodiac, and it's a great start. Here, the system's stylus and touchscreen features make a pretty good replacement for the mouse and keyboard standard. Warfare Incorporated combines that with the ability to make or download new missions and some pretty effective Bluetooth multiplayer support, resulting in a great handheld RTS game.
Warefare is primarily a resource-management simulation in which you, working for a multigalactic mining conglomerate named Acme Corp, pore over an alien landscape while in search of crystal deposits called Galaxite. Finding a bed of these babies is like striking black gold. Unfortunately, a group called OMNI also seeks to exploit these resources. Your duties are, therefore, generally twofold. Firstly, you must destroy all OMNI bases, and, secondly, you must claim the Galaxite for yourself. Meanwhile, an alien artifact has been discovered by Acme Corp--and it's one whose unusual properties have yet to be fully investigated... The difficulty in this single-player campaign can be somewhat unbalanced. Certain missions, particularly the early ones, are incredibly easy, while a couple of missions will require hours to successfully complete.
The standard mouse-based control of a real-time strategy game makes an easy transition to the stylus and touchscreen. It's possible to move large battalions of troops with a simple tap-and-drag action. To command only units of a particular type, simply double-tap on any member of that group. Holding down the stylus over certain pieces will reveal contextual menus with additional commands. For example, one of your units will remain ambulatory--chugging along with the rest of your mobile units--until you command it to settle down to become your headquarters.
In addition to the story mode, you can select a specific mission to play, or you can take the game online via Bluetooth or LAN play. However, the latter is only accessible if you are directly connected to a networked device, such as your computer. As with most real-time strategy games, Warfare Incorporated's multiplayer is likely to be its main draw. Bluetooth matches worked impressively well, with only occasional periods of lag. Needless to say, it's tremendously more satisfying to crush a human opponent than it is to defeat the game's artificial intelligence, although it often proves just as great a challenge. Warfare sports 21 maps of variable size and terrain, the largest of which supports four-player bouts. This is an impressive amount of content; however, should you ever want additional maps or missions, it's possible to make or download new ones and install them using a separate client, which is included with the game.
Warfare features a surprising amount of unit variety. There are many types of foot soldiers and vehicles, as well as your typical complement of gun turrets and similar defensive measures. As you research new technologies with your research and development center, even more unit types will become available, each with distinctive stats and abilities. Foot soldiers, particularly those equipped with rockets, are often an effective countermeasure to your opponents' vehicles. They also make useful defenders of your unarmed Galaxite mining units, who can be easy pickings for the enemy as they stray from your base while on their collection duties. There are also raider units, which function similarly to the Command & Conquer engineer units by letting you take control of your opponent's buildings. Suffice it to say, your human military resources are just as vital as your technically superior vehicles. Part of the game's challenge is knowing how to best balance these assets.
Warfare Incorporated's sprite-based visuals generally look pretty good. The game employs the isometric perspective that's standard in RTS titles. It's impossible to zoom, however. This is unfortunate, because it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between infantry units, which all look pretty similar. Warfare's rendered cutscenes look great, but, unfortunately, most of your interactions with your Acme superiors take the form of e-mail briefings that feature poorly drawn renditions of each company member.
Warfare's worst feature is its sound, which is infuriatingly repetitive. Your units will scream "Yes, sir!" frequently enough to give you the impression that they are doing it out of spite. The game's developer, apparently determined to provide an accurate auditory representation of interstellar mining squabbles, has forced you to hear every rocket launch, every scream, and every vehicle movement. Unfortunately, the result is a whole lot of repetitive noise. The option to play with the sound off is a good one, though it may put you at a tactical disadvantage.
On the whole, Warfare Incorporated is an excellent strategy title with varied gameplay and great multiplayer support. It's one of the best games on the Zodiac, and, in fact, it's one of the best mobile representations of the RTS genre to date.