Set phasers to fun.
If we told you that Star Trek Rivals is a movie game that's assumed the card-battling genre as its format of choice, you'd be forgiven for expecting just another Rage of Bahamut clone. Instead, this is a strictly head-to-head social game that's based on a tic-tac-toe grid format, and contains a surprising amount of cautious and clever strategy.
You set up a battle - either against a friend or a random online player - and each player is given five cards to play with, drawn randomly from the owner's deck. Each of these cards is decorated with a fan-favorite Star Trek character, ship or alien species, and also has four numbers dotted around it - one at the top, bottom, left and right-hand sides.
Players then take turns to place a single card onto a three-by-three grid, and this is where those numbers become important. If you place a card next to one of your opponent's, and the touching edge of it has a higher number, you'll capture your rival's card. Even better, you can set up combo captures - as each card comes into your possession, its numerical power will be taken into consideration, setting off a chain-reaction of further captures.
This simple-sounding gameplay actually demands a lot of careful thinking, particularly in the early days. You have to be very careful not to show your most powerful cards too early on, but it's also important to claim territory as soon as possible. You learn to push the weak sides of your cards into corners and edges, so as to leave only your strongest sides exposed.
Given the critical importance of every move, there'll be times when your opponent won't want to rush things just to keep the game moving briskly. Fortunately, when that happens, you can just head back to the menu screen, start up a round with a brand-new opponent, and pop back into the previous match when it's your turn again.
It's all good fun, but there is a downside. It's free to play, and so you won't be surprised to learn that you can head to the premium in-app purchase store and grab some extra shiny and powerful cards. As a result, it's likely to be the mightiest wallet that walks away with victory. If you can find a few trusted friends to play with though, Star Trek Rivals is a game that offers up far more excitement than you'd expect from the average movie tie-in.
What's Hot:A surprisingly original movie game, one that breathes some much-needed life into the card-battle genre.
What's Not:A little bit of AI fun would have been very welcome, and premium purchases are a cause for concern when it comes to random online matches.