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Daily iPhone App: Starbase Orion

iOS doesn't really have much in the way of original 4X (so called due to the second letter in the "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate" gameplay) games. Yes, Civ Revolution is on the platform, but that's not original (and to be honest, it's not the best port). Ascendancy is a quality game, but it's decidedly old-school in how it looks and runs. So when I heard that someone was working on bringing a spiritual successor to Master of Orion to our platform, I was super excited.

Now Starbase Orion is here, and it's glorious. It is streamed down a bit from the original space strategy series, but all of the slimming down has been done very smartly, leaving out the tedious parts of the genre, and leaving the meaty goodness. You're still managing an interstellar empire, but it's all done with a few touches at a time, turn by turn, rather than having to micromanage everything with a mouse and keyboard.

Master of Orion fans will especially like the game, because it also borrows that series' extensive ship designer and real-time combat portrayals. And Starbase Orion has somehow done all of this while including turn-based multiplayer gameplay with Game Center.

Those of you who know what 4X and Master of Orion are all about have probably already headed off to download this one -- it's a dream come true for turn-based strategy fans. The rest of you will probably find a somewhat steep learning curve (and a few bugs, unfortunately, though more updates are on the way), but Starbase Orion is pretty incredible. If you want a custom-made, very deep empire simulation game made specifically for the iOS platform, it's well worth the $4.99.

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