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Space Station: Frontier for iPad is hard to put down

Space Station: Frontier HD takes elements from tower-defense-type games and traditional RTS games to make an enjoyable and challenging experience with tons of replayability.

Space Station: Frontier HD
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

I check the iPad apps lists every day in the hope to uncover new gems. Though the frequency of apps coming into the app store is probably better described as a trickle rather than a flood, there's already been a few keepers that I've spent a lot of time with. One new addition to my iPad is a strategy game like no other I've seen so far and I think it has just the right elements to keep strategy gaming fans coming back for more.

Space Station: Frontier HD ($4.99) takes elements from tower-defense-type games and traditional RTS games to make an enjoyable and challenging experience with tons of replayability. The object is to defend your space station from attack by building out a defense structure of laser turrets, rail guns, missile launchers, and other weaponry. But to build all of these items, you'll need materials which you'll mine from nearby asteroids, all as a part of your multinode structure you build around your station. To build your structure, touch and drag an item from the bottom of the screen to a place where you can connect it to your space station's network of nodes.

Space Station: Frontier HD
Start by working your way through a few levels of the campaign, but soon you'll need to explore other game types to make money. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

There are a few different game types including a campaign to play through, offering several levels with specific challenges. But you won't be able to complete the campaign without weapons and upgrades you buy at the Shipyard with money you earn by playing the other game types. Game types include Survival, Protect, and Miner. Survival mode is the first game type unlocked, where it's your mission to efficiently mine resources and defend your space station from wave after wave of attacking ships. This will be where you spend most of your time early on, trying to last as long as possible to make money so you can unlock more weapons and upgrades.

Space Station: Frontier HD
In the beginning, build a couple of nodes and mining stations to get underway. Don't forget to add a laser turret to defend against the first attack. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Even with all the weapons unlocked, you still won't beat Space Station: Frontier HD without developing a sound strategy of defense. To build your defensive structure, you'll need to build out nodes for your weapons and mining equipment to connect to. Your weapons and mining equipment run on power from the space station or power generators you connect to your nodes. If you don't efficiently use your power, you'll run out in larger battles, which renders your weapons useless. The nodes you build are vulnerable to attack too, so if an enemy ship takes out a connecting node (disconnecting it from the space station and connected generators), all the weapons connected to that node will power down.

Space Station: Frontier HD
Later in the game you'll need to build your structure out further to mine asteroids giving the enemy plenty of ways to attack. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Space Station: Frontier HD effectively uses both RTS and tower-defense gameplay to make for an incredibly addicting and challenging game. With three game types, tons of weapons and upgrades to unlock, and a Campaign mode that requires you to play through the other game types to succeed, Space Station: Frontier is a well-rounded and well-designed game that's perfect for any strategy gaming fan. One word of warning: once you get sucked in, this game is very hard to put down.