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The Collectables review: Fun action strategy, minor freemium bumps

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The Good The Collectables is a great mix of action and strategy. Collectable cards let you fine-tune your strategy with each mission. The graphics are some of the best I've seen.

The Bad The freemium model will get annoying late in the game. Gameplay gets crowded when played on the iPhone.

The Bottom Line Even with the minor freemium annoyances, The Collectables is a ton of fun with graphics and gameplay that make it worth jumping through a few hoops.


8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Interface 8
  • Performance 9

The Collectables for iOS (coming soon to Android) is an action strategy game where you complete missions using a crew of four soldiers with special abilities gained by collecting game cards.

Developed by Crytek, the same developer that made the Crysis game franchise, The Collectables features excellent graphics, great touch-screen controls, and a fun storyline, as you lead your band of renegades through cool-looking environments.

It's important to note that The Collectables is a freemium title that limits your gameplay, but is fairly generous with the amount of time you get to play. Only later in the game will the freemium model start to be an issue, but in this case, I think it's worth it.

Complete missions

You control your crew by touching the screen where you want the group to go. But you also can direct individual soldiers to different positions by touching a soldier then dragging where you want him to go. You'll mostly direct soldiers in this fashion to position them behind cover, reducing the amount of damage your soldiers take from enemies.

As you complete individual missions in a quest chain, you'll earn rewards that include new soldier cards, deployable weapon cards, and fuel that is used to upgrade your soldiers between missions.

Choose your mission then enter the fray. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Collecting cards

At the beginning, you're given four level 1 soldier cards along with a few action cards that can be for anything from hand grenades to healing your soldiers.

You can earn both soldier and action cards by playing and repeating missions. Each mission shows you what reward you'll get for going through it again, with different rewards each time you repeat it. If you repeat a quest four times, each at increasing difficulty, you'll get better cards after each completed mission. You also have the option to buy packs of cards for real money, but I found the quest reward cards gave me plenty of options on the battlefield.

Action cards are crucial to getting past some of the more difficult levels. As you play through a mission, your soldiers will fire their regular weapons automatically; but in tough situations against several enemies, the Action cards will often mean the difference between life and death. As an example, one of the early cards you get is called the Firecracker, and lets you lob a grenade at a group of enemies for big damage. It's important to note, however, that once used, you cannot use an action card again in that round, so it pays to save them for only the most difficult situations.

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