City Island 3 Review

City Island 3 Review

Feb 3, 2015

City Island 3 plays somewhat like a simpler version of SimCity. The player begins with a empty island and must construct a city from the ground up. Houses are placed for your citizens to live in and just like SimCity it is best to construct ones that hold more people to make maximum use of space.

Businesses can be placed as well and these are the ones that generate money for the player, using a familiar timer based system. Businesses must be staffed with employees and thus you need to balance the amount of houses and businesses so there is always enough staff to crew your profitable businesses.

Screenshot_2015-01-31-07-26-52City Island 3 isn’t anywhere near as complex as SimCity though. Besides the business and citizens ratio there is no tax rate, special buildings or the like and gameplay basically boils down to placing whole lot of buildings and grabbing cash when it is ready. There are different kinds of terrain and some buildings can only be constructed at certain locations like lava or the beach so unlocking new islands in the game is required to build everything. It is a bit of fun building different looking cities. It is still the same gameplay no matter where you are though. It takes a very long time to unlock islands and purchase all the land plots as well.

City Island 3 is far more generous than most freemium city builders. Players can construct or upgrade 5 buildings at once, much more than most games allow. The game also has fairly short timers and money comes in fairly fast. New buildings are also unlocked pretty quickly. It does have a premium currency, in this case gold bars. After building a few of the better buildings and business, building more requires small amounts of bars to construct rather than cash. They are also used to speed up timers.

Screenshot_2015-01-31-07-15-30City Island 3 has a few full screen ads. The game itself lampshades this with a popup notifying you that the purchase of any in app purchase will remove all ads and that they are required due to the expense of developing the game. There aren’t too many ads, but when they do show up there is no warning and they are full screen. These interruptions are irritating.

City Island 3 looks good. The game is very colorful and there are vibrant beaches, green grass and each building looks very different to each other. It is still rather hard to construct a varied city though as there are only a few house designs. The sound could be much better though as there are previous few sound effects and no city ambiance or sound effects to speak of.

City Island 3 is a long way ahead of most other city builders on Android. While it is a bit simple, its generous freemium features and large amount of content make it an enjoyable game for fans of city building. More hardcore players will be better off with SimCity however.

Call of Duty: Heroes Review

Call of Duty: Heroes Review

Dec 16, 2014

Call of Duty: Heroes, despite its action game roots has more in common with Clash of Clans than with Modern Combat. Does the mammoth license of CoD make it a good game?

After an initial battle, like other city builder games, the player is put in charge of constructing a base from the ground up including resource buildings, troop training facilities and base defence. This proceeds slowly. After a few resource buildings are ticking over the player can begin to crank out an army. These range from average rifle wielding grunts to..other slightly different soldiers such as RPG ones.

Screenshot_2014-12-11-04-15-53Besides training troops and rushing them en mass, players can take control of well-known characters from the Call of Duty games. Good old Captain Price returns for yet another tour and Soap, Walcroft and other famous CoD guys make an appearance. There is no story or narrative to Heroes though and heroes are simply stronger than average units that can be manually controlled which makes them very useful compared to your more lemming like grunts. It’s possible to do things like deploy the hero first and have him surgically pick off buildings or call in support abilities to remove defences before any of your other troops are even deployed. This is a totally different style of gameplay to other games of this type.

Each hero also has a special ability which helps differentiate Call of Duty: Heroes from the legions of games just like it on Android. Captain Price for example can summon a chopper with a door gunner for a brief HMG barrage. The player gets to control the HMG’S aim and this unexpected meshing of gameplays types is welcome to say the least and is very useful for taking out defences or just picking off key buildings.

Screenshot_2014-12-11-06-49-39Call of Duty: Heroes features longer than average timers. Resource buildings in particular are very bad for this as they require upgrading several times before they even begin to become useful and this takes half an hour each time. Stationary guns likewise take half an hour for every one of them. Most of the game consists of tapping on things and waiting incredibly long periods of time. It is a testament to Activison’s skill though that this somehow ends up being fun when it is not forcing you to wait and wait.

Call of Duty: Heroes looks pretty slick as benefits its pedigree. Modern era troops are well detailed and buildings animate and look nice. Especially cool are the huge mecha that plod out to upgrade your buildings. The sound is well done as well with all the realstic gunfire and atmospheric base sounds you’d expect. The music feels very much like a CoD game as well.

Call of Duty: Heroes is surprisingly good, if not anything too amazing and far superior to most games of its type. Despite the ever annoying stink of freemium it’s a game worth checking out for those who want something a bit more tactical than other CoC type games.

MageCraft: The War Review

MageCraft: The War Review

Dec 1, 2014

Magecraft: The War is yet another in a very long line of freemium city builders for mobile. Aping games like Clash of Kings and injecting a well-worn fantasy vibe does it stand out?

Magecraft starts off a lot like most city builders. Starting with a threadbare base, the player must construct buildings and crank out troops to capture resources from enemies and become stronger and gain experience to become even stronger and so on. All player cities exist on the same map so rather than the arbitrary “neighbors” system common in other social games cities must be marched to to be attacked and distance always matters.

Screenshot_2014-11-23-12-46-43Unfortunately Magecraft makes this all rather boring. The game has no action in it. There is little in the way of tactics since the player has access to only a few troop types and the game’s ho-hum fantasy setting isn’t engaging. Other games like Fire Age simply feel more epic.

Like most games of this type, Magecraft features a guild system. I could not really find a use for this in game as no wars were happening and the players seemed more interested in talking about anything other than the game.

Screenshot_2014-11-23-12-24-43This dullness is not helped by some of the longest timers yet seen in a freemuem game. It takes 2 and a half hours to train a decent amount of low level troops and resources tick up so slowly that buildings must be upgraded multiple times to even gain a trickle of resources. Of course all these upgrades also take time. This makes MageCraft a very slow experience indeed and it is simply not an enjoyable game.

Magecraft: The War looks a few years old. Buildings are generic static sprites while troops barely make an appearance at all. There is just nothing interesting to look at.

MageCraft: The War’s interface really needs work. It often takes multiple taps on buttons to get the game to register and tapping on buildings is often unresponsive.

Magecraft: the War is an uninteresting game further hamstrung by very slow gameplay a poor interface, lack of player interaction and a lack of anything to differentiate it from the scores of games like it on the Play Store. Players should check out Game of War: Fire Age or Clash of Kings instead.

Game of War: Fire Age Review

Game of War: Fire Age Review

Jun 12, 2014

Game of War: Fire Age is a city builder with a huge scope. Taking control of a tiny city with some wooden walls and not a lot else, the player must construct an epic city, train an army and work with others to become powerful.

Screenshot_2014-06-08-17-37-49At its most basic GOW:FA seems like any other city builder. The player taps a plot in their city and chooses a building, which takes real time to construct. There are a ton of buildings in game and the building system is quite in depth. There are the basics, like farms for food and barracks for troops but there are also embassies to work with other players, upgraded walls and traps to stop enemies and a dizzying array of resource and research buildings to construct.

GOW:FA’s world is divided into vast areas called kingdoms where player cities reside. Unlike most games cities are actually located somewhere on the land in a kingdom, so it’s possible to view a world map and see the city and other player’s cities like an actual world map, rather than the more abstract “neighbors” common to this type of genre.

Screenshot_2014-06-08-01-12-37Attacking enemies involves making an army and sending troops to their city via the world map. They will then march there and return with resources if victorious. The military system in the game is quite deep and there are heaps of things to consider like force composition, what buffs your leader or hero has and what research has been completed Troops take a long time to create, so wars tend to be much more considered, realistic affairs.

The best thing about GOW:FA is joining an alliance. An alliance is a group of players that usually work towards a common goal and unlike most games, they tend to be well run affairs. Alliance members can help each other in a number of ways, from boosting building timers, to aiding research. War rallies can be organized in which members of an alliance can contribute troops to an army under another player as they march off to fight enemies or defend alliance members. It works very much like the Vassalage system in real life.

Game of War: Fire Age has a great community. Players tend to be polite and mature and there is a real sense of teamwork within good alliances. (Shout out to the super helpful guys in my alliance, The North 101). Attack and defense tend to be well organized and it feels a lot like real politics. Fire Age’s world is so huge and there are so many players that joining a good alliance is needed just to survive, let alone for the companionship and other help.

For a 2-D city builder Game of War: Fire Age sure looks nice. Buildings change as they are upgraded and a clear interface and map system help it along. The sound is basic but serviceable.

Game of War: Fire Age is a fun game with a great community. For wargame fans that can handle freemium games it is worth playing and sticking with.

Arcane Battlegrounds Review

Arcane Battlegrounds Review

Jun 5, 2014

Arcane Battlegrounds is a new base building game based on the well-known MMORPG Arcane Legends. Does it live up to its pedigree?

Screenshot_2014-06-04-19-53-48Arcane Battlegrounds is, unfortunately, little more than a Clash of Clans clone with an Arcane Legends style coat of paint. It features the now all too familiar cycle of building a few buildings, waiting while resources tick up, training an army and then unleashing them in battles where the player is limited to simply deploying their soldiers and watching the show. Deploying troops in the right spot and the right order is important, as otherwise swordsmen might get distracted by buildings while cannons pick them off, or slow, powerful siege troops might get swamped by foes before they reach the walls. Troops that are expended in a battle are lost, so armies must generally be replaced after each battle.

As players work though the game, buildings must be upgraded constantly to unlock new and stronger troops and increase the rate of resource acquisition. There is a long single player campaign, but it lacks any kind of story or any drive to push though it, so generally it is simply a way to grab resources quick and beef the base and army up enough to compete in multiplayer.

Screenshot_2014-06-05-17-05-02Multiplayer consists of attacking randomly selected players that are roughly matched to the player’s level. A Guild system is available and players can help each other with building and send reinforcements to guildmates. This is one of the few bright sparks in Arcane Battlegrounds. This is the first time I have seen a game of this type where players can help each other with building their base. Considering the enormity of the timers in the game this is a welcome addition.

Arcane Battlegrounds features the same ho-hum freemium tropes that have been seen in pretty much every CoC type game. There are timers for building and upgrading buildings and timers for training troops. These timers are just as frustrating as ever. The game also takes quite a long time to start up, even if it was running in the background, which isn’t really conductive to the short bursts of gameplay that freemium often demands.

Arcane Battlegrounds is not a very good looking game. Its drab buildings and dull coloured troops really pale compared to older games like Samurai Siege and even Clash of Clans. The buildings are not much better, with plenty of muted brown and grey involved. For a mobile game in 2014 it is poor. There are a few oddities as well like placeholders appearing in game.

The sound falls into the same not so great category. Dull fantasy music drones on the background and never really changes and combat is just a bit too quiet and subdued for a game of this style.

Arcane Battlegrounds is no different from the overload of Clash of Clans games that exist on Android and there is no reason to even look in its direction when far superior games like Samurai Siege are available. With poor graphics, long timers and overly familiar gameplay it is worth a miss.

Galaxy Factions Review

Galaxy Factions Review

Jan 23, 2014

Galaxy Factions takes the CoC clone genre to space. With lotsa lasers and guns does it have an edge over its sword sporting brethren?

Galaxy Factions sets the player up with a command center, a transport ship and little else. As is common with this genre, Galaxy Factions is all about constructing a base, mining resources and taking the fight to pirates and rival mining bases in single player or to other players in multiplayer.

Screenshot_2014-01-22-12-05-20Galaxy Factions plays almost exactly like Clash of Clans, the most well-known example of the genre. Units are built in the Training Facility and occupy a building in your base until they are used. When in combat the player simply selects where the soldiers will appear from. Once they are on the field they cannot be controlled and attack different foes depending on the soldier type. Some soldiers prefer attacking base defences while others fire on economy buildings. Destroying a majority of the enemy base wins the battle and awards a large amount of resources. Soldiers that are left at the end of the battle are lost so a new army must be built for each attack.

Galaxy Factions sticks to this formula except that unlike other games it is set in the future. Thus the player gets to play with lasers, assault rifle wielding infantry, mobile artillery suits and armoured vehicles.

Unfortunately, as is common in this genre of games Galaxy Faction’s freemium elements really ruin the gameplay. While buildings begin with modest 5-15min timers this quickly balloons to an hour to upgrade a single base defence and up to six hours or more to upgrade structures like your transport ship. Because of the constant need to upgrade buddings to new, more advanced versions “gameplay” in Galaxy Factions often consists of logging in once every few hours, tapping on two buildings to upgrade them and them closing the app. Repeat ad infinitum.

The transport ship upgrade time is extremely annoying since several upgrades of it are all but necessary to have the forces required to fight properly and 4 or 5 upgrades of 6+ hours each time is extremely off putting.

Screenshot_2014-01-19-01-50-40Battle also has little real strategy besides picking a good spot for your units to deploy at. The game’s hero units are little more than extra powerful normal soldiers since; unlike a game like Sensei Wars they are not customizable with different skills or directly controllable.

Lastly, Galaxy Factions is very derivative. There have been a lot of Clash of Clans clones released lately and Galaxy Faction’s space theme is its only real innovation. Sensei Wars with its fun gameplay and controllable heroes is much more fun than this game and more innovative. Galaxy Faction’s extremely long timers and copycat gameplay just isn’t a worthy addition to the genre.

Galaxy Factions is a novel, but ultimately shallow CoC clone with annoying freemium features. Its wait times are far too long and its gameplay is not worth the pain. Check out Sensei Wars instead for a deeper, more interesting game.

Sensei Wars Review

Sensei Wars Review

Dec 31, 2013

Sensei Wars looks to shake up the stale city builder genre with a few innovations. Does it differentiate itself from the recent glut of wannabe Clash of Clans games?

Sensei Wars differs a great deal from other city builders in that you are given a leader or Sensei to lead your town. This warrior is the only one that can be directly controlled in combat and his skills and strength make him a vital part of gameplay.

Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-33-53A sensei can pick from three schools of skills that make him better at attack, defence or healing. This also affects what skills he can learn. For example, an army might have either a tough hero that rushes into combat with the men, or one that isn’t as strong, but heals everyone around him, giving the whole army more staying power. This is a fantastic idea and really opens up the game’s tactical options.

While the sensei is very useful, a large part of Sensei War’s gameplay still revolves around building a thriving town, recruiting a big army and crushing your enemies. Mines and farms produce resources that can be spent on upgrades for your buildings or troops. Troops come in many flavours from the basic melee Monk to tough samurai and swift archers.

Screenshot_2013-12-20-15-21-16Sensei Wars looks excellent, with some stand out animations. Combat looks frenzied and even the most basic units ooze personality. Your sensei also looks great in combat as he walks around smacking enemies and there are tons of little details like how you see children skipping around the town and farmers labouring away in their fields that make you feel more like you’re building a bustling town of warriors. Sensei Wars has some of the best graphics I’ve seen in a freemium game of its type.

The sound is similarly impressive. The roar of battle sounds good and there’s plenty of loud melee sounds to give combat some feeling.

Unfortunately the stink of freemium is strong in Sensei Wars and tries its hardest to ruin what would otherwise be a great game. Timers are everywhere and some of them are incredibly long. The game is so rich and deep that spoon feeding it to the player at such a glacial pace is very frustrating and will turn many off the game.

Sensei Wars is very similar to games like Clash of Clans and Total Conquest, but avoids being a soulless clone by the merits of its unique sensei system and amazing amount of personality. It’s worth checking out if you like your city building with a strong dose of RTS and role playing.

Westbound Review

Westbound Review

Dec 30, 2013

Westbound is yet another entry in the well-worn city builder genre. Does it differentiate itself?

Westbound begins with the player saving a frontiersman named Carson who somehow got his leg stuck in a wagon wheel. Soon after, a frontier lady named Ruby Mae joins him town and from there Carson decides to build an entire frontier town right there in the canyon in an effort to impress the pretty Ruby Mae. Ruby Mae meanwhile is searching for her missing daughter. The game’s story is pretty incoherent. Battle Nations this isn’t.

Screenshot_2013-12-17-10-09-25From there, the game enters a very familiar routine that will be all too familiar for players of Farmville or other games of this type. Buildings are built, resources are harvested and gradually the town takes shape. Mini quests frequently appear to give some direction. Money is needed for completing tasks and is gained from planting crops, selling items and so on. Since the game takes place in a canyon a large part of the game is about using pickaxes to mine out new space for houses and other objects. Mining is also often used to complete quests.

Unfortunately, Westbound has a few mechanics that suck the fun out of the game. The most overt of them is the total reliance the player has on pickaxes. Without pickaxes the game cannot really be played. The town can’t expand, items needed for quests can’t be found and the entire game grinds to a halt. The only way to obtain pickaxes is to buy them with real money or download other Kiwi games. Unless cash is ponied up the player will get nowhere in Westbound.

The game also relies heavily on timers for any task. Even the most basic money making tasks take three taps and about 30 seconds of waiting and anything more advanced, such as chopping wood takes five to ten minutes or even longer.

Screenshot_2013-12-17-00-37-12Westbound features a lot of ads. One time two ads to purchase pickaxes and another ad advertising another Kiwi game appeared in the space of a minute, interrupting gameplay each time. Ads are a necessary evil in freemium games, but this is a bit much.

Westbound doesn’t look good. The graphics succeed in driving home the game’s frontier feel, but they are poorly detailed and while some of the characters in game looks OK, there is little interesting to look at. The sound is workman like as well, with all the beeps and clangs common to this type of game.

Westbound is a poor game. It has little fun gameplay, it has too many restrictions and it does nothing new with the city builder genre. There are much better games of this type in Android. For a fun city building experience, check out Clash of Clans, Total Conquest or even Castleville.

Friday Free App Rundown March 22nd – City Building Games

Friday Free App Rundown March 22nd – City Building Games

Mar 22, 2013

City building games are a good style to play when there is a lot of time to kill. Because they take a while to accumulate money, resources and other things the game cannot be played all in one sitting usually. Some of these games will run in the background and give notification when something is ready and needs to be done. This can be a distraction to some and helpful for other people. Let us know if there are other games like this we missed.


Like many city building games, Megapolis starts off with a small city. As the city infrastructure grows, more things need to be managed. Everything from the finances to designing new areas, airports and sea ports and more. Not only is there a need to make the city great, the neighboring cities play a role in the game too. Trading resources for theirs and teaming up with them will make things happen a little faster. Take the time and build it right or there might be some issues later on.

Download Megapolis

Virtual City Playground

G5 ENTERTAINMENT makes some pretty fun games. Virtual City Playground is similar to others on the list because the city will start small and as it grows, so do the parts of the city that need to be managed. One thing that’s different with Virtual City Playground is there is an option to stage public events to keep the citizens happy. Happy people usually mean more growth and less crime. Keep that in mind Mr. Mayor.

Download Virtual City Playground

Airport City

Airport City is the same premise as the others on the list but involves making an airport from scratch. A lot of the same things apply when making an airport vs. building a city. Making sure everthing is built in a logical place as well as keeping things running smoothly. As the airport grows, more planes can be out in the air which means the airport is making more money (exotic rewards for different flights). There is money to be made at the commercial buildings like eateries. This means there is more chances to build a bigger and a better airport.

Download Airport City

City Island

Sometimes there is limited space but it makes sense to have a city there. In this case, this limited space is an island. Building a city on an island poses some unique design challenges. Mainly what to do when all of the space is used. Well, the answer is to build up of course. With over 85 different building types, there is sure to be a great combination to make the people happy and things moving smoothly.

Download City Island

Building Tower

Okay, Building Tower is nothing like the rest of the other games on the list. Here the goal is to make a tall building. The block are dangled by a rope from a crane. Because of the wind there is a sway to the rope. The hard part is releasing the block at the right time and having the blocks line up as straight as possible so the tower doesn’t fall over as it gets taller. Easier said than done.

Download Building Tower