The seas are a dangerous place, what with all the storms, pirates, and giant-ass sea monsters running around wrecking ships. Well, the ocean blue just got a little more dangerous and a little less sea monstery-y in Unigine's Oil Rush: 3D Naval Strategy. This strategy game requests a bit more thoughtfulness from its players than the usual iOS titles, so press onward to find out if this might be the thing to scratch your mental itch.
Oil Rush could best be described as a SSRTS — super slow real-time strategy. You begin each match with a building under your control, sending combat units out to take control of resource nodes and crush your foes' bases. The super slow aspect comes from the fact that nearly all of your decisions are on the macro level. You can buy upgrades and expansions for each of your buildings, and you can command your troops to go do stuff, but you can only direct 25%, 50%, or 100% of the units at any given building to go forth and kick ass — Starcraft 2 this ain't. Still, there's a nice amount of satisfaction to be had from this mellow RTS experience. Each building comes with several expansion options, allowing you to tailor your defenses according to what kind of heat your foes are packing. Similarly, there are a few different unit types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, giving the entire thing a simplistic, but effective, paper-rock-scissors feel.
As your units duke it out on the field of battle they'll net you experience points that you can use to purchase upgrades. Some of these purchases are straight-up statistical improvements, like improved attack strength; others are active abilities that you can use to turn the tide of battle. None of them are game-changers like the kind of powerful stuff you'd see in any of the Age Of RTSs, but the indirect advantages given by these abilities do add something a little more active to the affairs.
There's a campaign and a Quick Game mode for your playing pleasure. The campaign comes with a story that's very hammy and forgettable, but it does do a great job of slowly introducing new aspects of the game to nubile players. Those hungry to jump in can go with a skirmish, slightly customizing the experience to suit their tastes before starting the battle and fighting with everything they've got. As far as its aesthetics, Oil Rush's visuals are mediocre, and its audio below that, but they do the job they're supposed to.
iOS controls don't always work well with complex games, but Oil Rush manages to distill most of the important aspects of a RTS into a touch-based control scheme. You'll swipe to move the camera, twist with two fingers to redirect it, and pinch to zoom in/zoom out. Anything more complex than that requires use of the large side menu located to the left of the screen.
Its slow pace, lack of complexity and lack of micro control options may not appeal to everyone, but if you're looking for something that makes decent use of your brain while moving things gently along, Oil Rush: 3D Naval Strategy may be the thing for you.