Is Morning Star the iPad's answer to Halo?
Console and mobile gaming are on a collision course. With manufacturers upgrading smartphones and tablets at least once a year, it's only a matter of time before their capabilities catch up – at least to current-gen consoles. The stage is set, then, for breakthroughs in mobile gaming. Developer Industrial Toys wants Morning Star to be for mobile what Halo once was for consoles.
It's no coincidence that Morning Star looks a lot like Halo Developer Alex Seropian co-founded Bungie, the studio that eventually created the landmark Xbox franchise. After leaving the studio in 2004, he founded Industrial Toys, where he now hopes to produce another iconic franchise.
Morning Star's premise is straight out of a console gaming playbook. Set 120 years in the future, Charlie Campbell and his team board an interplanetary vessel to investigate a mysterious signal coming from Saturn's moon, Titan.
Things (naturally) don't go as planned, and the team is sucked through a portal to a distant planet called Oberon. Along the way, Earth is destroyed (oops) and old Charlie is suddenly humanity's only hope. Let the alien carnage commence.
New control schemes
Why care about another space shooter? Because Industrial Toys' (admittedly lofty) goal is to completely change hardcore gamers' expectations about mobile. That starts with the controls.
Virtual buttons try to reproduce the console experience, but usually only accentuate mobile's limits. Seropian and company are exploring new control schemes that will take that weakness and turn it into a strength.
Industrial Toys co-founder Tim Harris says that the company spent months seeking a control system that "felt right." They despise virtual joysticks, and he says they have found a scheme that is completely fresh.
Ripe for a breakthrough
Morning Star's exact control scheme is still a mystery, but the opportunity is there. Some of the best mobile games have exploited the advantages of touch screens. Games like Infinity Blade, Horn, and Bastion focus less on virtual buttons, and more on taps and swipes that interact more directly with the game's environment.
We've yet to see a mobile shooter that thinks outside of that box. The most popular are Gameloft's N.O.V.A. and Modern Combat. They're entertaining as Halo and Call of Duty clones, but are ultimately little more than watered-down approximations.
Wait and see
The stage is set for somebody to step up and make a hardcore mobile game for the ages. Infinity Blade is a classic, but it's essentially Mike Tyson's Punch-Out in a fantasy realm. There's room for something more.
Will that something more be Morning Star? We'll have to wait until the second quarter of 2013, when it hits the App Store. In the meantime, you can stay entertained by watching the trailer below.