Creative Assembly, developers of the critically acclaimed and long running Total War series of games have announced a brand new cross-platform game for both mobile OS and PC/Mac known as Total War Battles: Kingdoms.
The game is currently in closed beta and looks to be a mix between real time large scale combat and kingdom building, hopefully with a minimum of freemium. Details are light at the moment but you can trust Android Rundown and yours truly to watch the development of this game very closely.
The game is soon to enter a closed beta so register your interest here!
Red War may look a bit like Clash of Clansbut it is in fact a mobile clone of War Commander, a Facebook game that allows players to build a base and take the fight to other players.
Red War has the player take control of a basically non-existent base. After rebuilding some basic structures and receiving a small force of units the player must build a base, crank out more troops and generally roll over anyone who gets in their way. The game features a pretty familiar set of units. There are the ever useful rifle armed infantry, heavy machine gunners and snipers. Later on vehicles such as tanks and APCs come into play and medics and engineers round out the tactical options.
A nice change from the deluge of CoC copycats is that the player has full control of their units at all times. When hanging out at their base building stuff, players can directly station troops anywhere on their land. When attacking, players can order troops anywhere on the battlefield and to attack anything they want to instead of simply tapping on the field and sitting back as troops do whatever. This is a nice change and actually makes the player feel in control of the battle, something CoC sorely lacks.
Another plus is that players donâ€™t lose troops after a victorious combat. Any forces that survived the fight return to your base to be used again, although they retain any damage so using medics or technicians is important.
As well as combat the game altos features extensive base building. Each building in the base can be upgraded multiple times unlocking new units and buildings. Oil and Metal are the resources here and building a whole bunch of extractors and storage facilities is all but required to field an effective force. Buildings and troops can be moved at any time and organizing your buildings and turrets smartly is essential to defending against enemy attack effectively.
Of course like any other Clash of Clans knockoff Red War is sprinkled liberally with a dose of freemium. Buildings and units both have timers and later upgrades are extremely expensive and require multiple storage upgrades just for the ability to store enough resources to even purchase the upgrade.
Red War is quite fair though as it constantly provides free units and resources every half an hour. A timer counts down and when it expires the player can receive a free card for troops or resources.
Red War doesnâ€™t look good at all. It features primitive 2d graphics with little in the way of eye candy and most units are far too small. Infantry are little more than indistinct blobs. The game doesnâ€™t scale well to phone screens either and thus the gameâ€™s interface is far too small to be read comfortably. There is no excuse for this for a game released in 2014. It looks very similar indeed to War Commander, right down to the building designs and the inability to zoom.
Red War is an interesting game and despite its freemium roots its deeper than average gameplay makes it pretty fun. Its interface problems and poor graphics hold it back however.
If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then Clash of Kings by developer Empire Game Studios must have absolutely loved Machine Zoneâ€™s Game of War: Fire Age as the two games are very similar indeed. Game of War was a fun game though so this isnâ€™t necessarily a bad thing.
Clash of Kings starts off with you, the king of your city taking it back from invaders, itâ€™s unclear who they were or how you lost your city, but the only thing to be done now is to rebuild your devastated city and train a new army to ensure it isnâ€™t lost again.
To do this the player builds resource buildings, such as Sawmills and Farms. These resources are used to crank out troops such as militia infantry and a few cavalrymen and to research myriad upgrades such as faster farming, the ability to support a larger army or just upgrades for your troops to make them stronger in battle. Building up the city is a very slow burning process. Packed with timers, it takes about 4 minutes to make a basic unit of militia and upgrades and research take a long time. This is a common story in freemium games though and it is never really that annoying.
Slowly upgrading the city, gradually becoming stronger and amassing an army with thousands of warriors is just as interesting as it was in Fire Age. The game also allows players to skip building and upgrade timers with under 5 minutes remaining and other players can help build or research things reducing the timer as well.
Alliances are central in Clash of Kings. An alliance is a group of players that work together to build up their cities. Alliances can aid in constructing buildings for members or provide reinforcements. When a player wants to attack they can instead begin a war rally which allows other players in that alliance to add soldiers as well to form a large combined army of small alliance city armies, allowing for some truly huge forces to be fielded. Alliances are usually friendly and helpful and the game feels as much like a social experience as it does a game.
Clash of Kings looks very inviting for the type of game it is. Buildings and units look good and are very well detailed for a free game. Buildings also change as they are upgraded and the interface is well laid out. The way that troops line up on the side of the city as they are created is satisfying too, as players can watch their army grow. For a freemium city builder Clash of Kings looks impressive.
The sound is somewhat limited but whatâ€™s there is decent enough. Some good music helps the game along but it loops far too frequently. The music on the world map for example loops every 30 seconds which is a shame as itâ€™s a good track. Aurally the game is limited to a few yells and clicks. Some combat sounds would have been nice.
Clash of Kings is a pretty decent wargame and even though it apes Fire Age it is still a fun strategic game in its own right.
Battlestation: First Contact Is an interesting mix of RTS and tower defence.
As commander of a large space station the player simply needs to survive by any means possible while wiping out the enemy. Gun turrets can be built in a number of slots on the station. These range from fast firing anti fighter lasers to slower heavy missile launchers for pounding the snot out of big ships. Having a good balance of weapons to combat different threats is as important here as it is in any tower defence.
As well as towers however the player can also construct Hangars. Once built these spit out fighter in a steady steam, providing mobile defence that can be sent to attack the enemy or cover the station as necessary. Fighter squadrons can be individually ordered about and while they cannot be moved directly, the player always feels like they have firm control over their pilots.
A shuttle bay can also be built that allows marines to be sent in troop carriers to opposing enemy ships to take them over and steal them from the enemy. Lastly, Earth can be contacted for reinforcements to bring in the big guns. This doesnâ€™t come cheap however.
Of course all this fancy gear costs credits which are gained by destroying enemies and tapping on salvage. Marines and pilots are also a finite resource, so flippantly throwing away fighters or troops in futile combat will swiftly lead to disaster.
Battlestation: First Contact offers quite a few tactical options. Everything the player builds or uses can be customized like any good RTS. Turrents can have their targeting priority changed, while fighters can be more or less aggressive or dock with the station for upgrades. Shields can also be tweaked to either have more capacity or recharge faster. All of this makes a big difference depending on the situation.
Battlestation is a rougetype. This means when the player dies that saved game is deleted and they must start all over again from wave 1. It is very easy to lose it all very fast in Battlestation: First Contact if a tactical blunder is made. This makes the game tense but it is very aggravating being blown up after twenty minutes of gameplay. This is not helped by the repeated dialogue each game. Battlestation barely has a story to speak of and it is irritating to click though dry dialogue.
Battlestation: First Contact looks nice and minimalist. Its bright, simple graphics give it an inviting TRON like look with chaotic battles that are fun to watch. The sound is well done as well. A pumping techno track accompanies the action. The â€œpew pew pewâ€ of combat gets the job done in a retro way, but a few more sounds would have been nice.
Battlestation: First Contact offers its first episode for free while additional episodes cost $3.50. If youâ€™re good enough to reach the end of the first episode the later ones will likely be a good buy.
Battlestation: First Contact is a slick well-made game with a great meshing of styles its exciting tactical combat and fresh graphics make it a winner, even if it can be just a little too brutal sometimes.
Heroes and Castles is a new Action RPG/strategy game where chopping though a huge undead horde is just another day at the office.
Players can pick from one of a well-known cast of RPG favorites. Thereâ€™s the stealthy assassin, the healing paladin and the tough knight, among others. Each is very different and provides a different style of gameplay.
Heroes and Castles mixes RPG gameplay with a pinch of strategy. While the player moves and fights much like any other button mashing action RPG, the game is set up so they cannot survive alone.
Troops can be recruited to aid in holding back the shambling undead before they beat their way into Hinton castleâ€™s strangely wooden walls. Quite a few troops from weak archers to armor clad, pike welding badasses can be recruited to both serve as a distraction and kill enemies in their own right. Using troops well is the key to success.
A few buildings can be constructed as well. The most common one are gold mines that generate money to train new soldiers, but arrow towers and a few others can be built. After each battle gems are earned that can be used to boost skills and learn new ones.
Lamentably, some really interesting gameplay ideas are undone by the incredibly high difficulty of Heroes and Castles. The first few levels are simple enough, but from about level 4 onwards the game becomes a whole different ballgame. Enemies arrive in droves. The introduction of armored enemies who both dish out and take a lot of damage makes the game much more difficult. Their armor makes them nearly immune to attacks from nearly every troop type, including the player. The only troops that can counter armored enemies are very expensive pikemen that cost more than an arrow tower each.
Rarely can the player afford enough pikemen to have much chance of winning and it is obvious that Heroes and Castles is steering the player towards purchasing in app purchases which boost abilities and make the game slightly easier. There is a lot of in app purchases in Heroes and Castles. This would be more acceptable if the base game did not already cost money.
Graphically, Heroes and Castles is quite simple, but with the large amount of characters on screen during a major battle this is understandable. The game would just not have a stable frame rate otherwise. The sound is similarly second rate. Combat sounds more like banging forks together and voice acting is very poor. A strange omission is the lack of death cries for both enemies and allies. This makes it difficult to tell if troops are holding if the player cannot see them. The music gets the job done, but it is a much better idea to turn it off to better keep track of battle.
Heroes and Castles delivers a unique experience for mobile and some interesting gameplay. Unfortunately it then shoots itself in the foot with in-app purchases, poor presentation and very high difficulty. Only rich strategy fans should apply.
First Strike is all about nukes. The crux of many an action movie nukes can be fun to throw around. First Strike contains all the fun of launching arrays of nuclear death without all that pesky fallout afterwards. First Strike throws diplomacy out the window. By the time of the game the world is already going to be bathed in nuclear fire. The only question is who will do most of the bathing?
First Strike divides each nation up into sections and each section has a number of silos, the number of which is controlled by tech level. Each silo can have a particular kind of missile. There are cruise missiles which are used to intercept incoming nukes and ICBMs, which are used for nuking other nations.
Actually attacking enemies (i.e., anyone not you) is very easy. The player just taps on a nation and then taps on an opposing nation. Intercepting nukes is easy as tapping on an icon. Building a combination of missiles is important as without cruise missiles there is no way of stopping incoming nukes.
Once the player has a big enough arsenal they can launch the titular first strike, which is an all-out attack where every nation the player controls launches their nukes at the target. This is accompanied with a great swell of music and usually reduces the target area to rubble.
Nukes themselves cause parts of the map to become barren, destroying any missiles there and removing it from control. These areas can be reclaimed by expanding to them with a “expand” option. While a nation is expanding it cannot defend itself, but the more of the map a nation has under its control, the more space there is for additional nuke silos. A balance between taking over the map and attacking your enemies is essential.
Research is important as well. Longer range and more powerful missiles can be researched as well as more advanced radar to detect incoming missiles. A few super weapons work great for wiping out a stubborn opponent.
The game contains three difficulty levels, each of which is a different nation. The USA is quite easy what with its already advanced tech and large number of territories. North Korea on the other hand is backward tech wise and cannot even detect incoming missiles for starters.
First Strike looks excellent. A great style with glowing lines and simple icons make the game feel like some kind of military computer and when a major nuclear exchange erupts and dozens of missiles with targeting lines and icons fly through the air it is a sight to behold.
The game also sounds excellent. Minimalist, flowing music is punctuated with bursts of loud pumping riffs when First Strikes happen. Missiles launching and detonating sound great and the beeps and boops of the interface really make you feel like youâ€™re hunched over a screen in some bunker somewhere, watching the end of the world happen.
First Strike is a fun and super stylish game and should be loads of fun for any fan of strategy.
Boom Beach has an interesting premise. The player, commanding an unnamed army seeks to liberate a beautiful archipelago from the evil Blackguard, an army that has occupied the area and is using the natives for slave labour and repressing them. Starting off with a tiny base on an island, the player must expand their base, train an army and take back the islands from the Blackguard, one chunk of dirt at a time.
Boom Beach plays a lot like Clash of Clans. The biggest difference is that it uses squads of troops rather than the single soldiers in CoC. This looks a lot more realistic and feels much more like fighting a war. Since Boom Beach takes places on a group of islands units appear on ambitious transports before they storm the beach front, Normandy style. This is a huge improvement on the way armies just pop into existence in similar games.
Unlike Clash of Clans, only one building can be built or upgraded at once both building and upgrading buildings take a long time. Even the most basic unit of troops takes 5 minutes to create and resource acquisition is even slower. It is hard to really play Boom Beach for more than a few minutes at a time.
Boom Beachâ€™s combat is likely to be very familiar. Troops are largely independent once deployed, attacking enemies and buildings as they seem fit. For the first time in this style of game a flare can be used to order units where to move to. The units will either move to the flareâ€™s position or attack the building the flare is over. This is very useful for getting troops to attack guard towers or other dangerous foes if theyâ€™re distracted with attacking less threatening targets.
However, Boom Beach is just not compelling. There are just too many limiting factors. Combat is quite dull because there is very limited unit variety and it lacks the unique, interesting forces that were available in Clash of Clans.
Boom Beach lacks any kind of guild or clan system, which makes the game as a whole feel pretty lonesome. There is just not a lot to do, expect tap on buildings and attack the AI.
At least Boom Beach looks very nice. The lush, tropical isles, white sandy beaches and turquoise water are a great change for the genre and units looks good and animate well. The sound is very good as well. Some great ambient music suits the isle atmosphere very well and sound effects get the job done. The game is overall very polished.
Boom Beach is not a great game, but it really could be. With faster progression, shorter timers and more community features, Boom Beach could be something special. As it is though there are better games of this type on Android.
Arcane Battlegrounds is a new base building game based on the well-known MMORPG Arcane Legends. Does it live up to its pedigree?
Arcane 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.
Multiplayer consists of attacking randomly selected players that are roughly matched to the playerâ€™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 isnâ€™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.
For those who still shoot peas at the undead, the new update is bringing a wide range of new content for Plants vs. Zombies 2. It includes lots of futuristic features like 24 new levels, 8 new plants, 10 new kinds of zombies and new power tile power-up system. The game is available for free from here: Plants vs. Zombies 2 on Google Play.
Royal Revolt 2 does a good job of making the player feel like a king. As one of a huge number of feuding kingdoms providing subjects with food and gold is just as important as raising armies to plunder enemies and gain more power.
Royal Revolt 2 follows the tried and true Clash of Clans formula, at least as far as building up a kingdom. Players will partake in all the familiar tropes for this genre, such as constructing and upgrading resource buildings to generate resources, which are then used to build new buildings and upgrade existing ones in a never ending snowball of economic growth.
A big difference however is that military doesn’t need to be created as such. Once a unit type is researched at the academy, that type can be summoned at any point in battle at no cost.
Once on the battlefield, Royal Revolt 2 plays like a bizarre reversal of tower defence. The king and a cadre of troops need to muscle their way through whatever defenses the opponent has set up to stop them, as well as several waves of troops. The king can be controlled directly and a series of icons are used to summon troops to the battle. A constantly replenishing meter shows how many points are available for troops and summoning a troop uses up points.
Smashing though an opponentâ€™s defenses is great fun, there are towers, traps, waves of enemy troops and more to break through and the king is a powerful warrior, so using him well is key to victory. Several spells can also be used to tip the balance and these range from healing spells to weaving clouds of toxic gas.
Troop AI is decent, but not great. Soldiers feel much like the ones in Clash of Clans in that they typically attack the first thing they see regardless of if something more dangerous like a guard tower is around. They also cannot be directly controlled or told to follow you, so they canâ€™t be told to move out of the way of attacks or made to go a certain way, which can be annoying.
Of course Royal Revolt 2 has a few freemium annoyances. There is plenty of waiting during building construction and battles are limited by the kingdomâ€™s food supply, which builds up quite slowly. Still, there are no annoying energy systems or insurmountable paywalls and there is loads of gameplay on offer for free. The game rewards smart strategic choices and theyâ€™re usually more important than who spends the most.
Royal Revolt 2 looks and sounds great. Battles are cool to watch and itâ€™s fun to see the kingdom take shape as well. The sound is very well done, with plenty of clangs and dings and the ever satisfying sound of resources building up. For a free game Royal Revolt 2 is presented very well indeed.
Royal Revolt 2 is an excellent, original game with a lot of depth and some great ideas. Itâ€™s worth a very close look for any RTS fan.
Dungeon Keeper, the venerable series of PC games has waited around 20 years for a sequel. Does Android deliver?
Dungeon Keeper doesnâ€™t really play anything like the original series. In the original DK the player built a dungeon from the ground up. Digging to portals on the map caused different creatures to visit the dungeon depending on what amenities the player had.
Once the dungeon was ticking over, tough bands of adventurers and warriors would arrive to destroy your evil base. A combination of clever dungeon design and tough creatures was needed to defeat them. After a few defeats, the lord of that level would arrive and once he was dead the player won the level. The game was full of funny dialogue, dark passages and genuinely evil looking creatures to use and really felt villainous.
Dungeon Keeper Android is a Clash of Clans clone dressed up like a Dungeon Keeper game. Rooms are built and units are trained up just like Clash of Clans. Your minions donâ€™t move from their rooms and rather than heroes attacking your dungeon battle involves heading to other dungeons and attacking their monsters. This kind of monster on monster combat is nothing like the original game. The player just drops their monsters into the dungeon and since there is nearly no choice of unit there is no strategy to battle.
DK is loaded with timers. By far the most annoying one is the wait time to dig out blocks of rock to create space to build things. There are hundreds of blocks to be mined out and a lot of them take either 4 hours or 24 hours to mine. Most of the time gameplay in DK consists of logging in, tapping on 2 or three blocks then closing the app since there is nothing else to do. Prices are very high. The most expensive IAP costs $99 and gives enough gems to mine out a few dozen blocks.
Dungeon Keeperâ€™s graphics are nothing like the actual DK series. Bright hallways, cutesy hearts and cute bright green trolls abound. This version of DK looks like it was designed by somebody who has never played the series before. Gone are the dank, dark hallways and gross giant beetles and flies to be replaced by cartoony visuals that lack any sort of personality. The sound is also seriously lacking.
From the descriptions above it should be obvious that one of the biggest failures of this version of Dungeon Keeper is actually being a DK game. Minions just have no character to them the gameplay is totally different and the game lacks the darkly hilarious and super bloody feeling of the original.
In the end there is no reason to play this game. It isnâ€™t really a Dungeon Keeper game and its timers are oppressive. Rather than buying this it would be a much better idea to purchase the original game from GoG.com for $6. It is much, much more fun and doesnâ€™t ask for more money.
Amoebattle is, perhaps, the first original mobile real-time strategy that can be called that without any stretch. Most of the real-time strategies are either too simple or too flawed, and the ones that are working, are mirror copies of older titles. Amoebattle manages to be neither. And it manages to do so without ridiculous production values.
Amoebattle is a tactical RTS, where events happen on a micro-scale. I’m still not sure about the actual story, but the player controls groups of single-cell organisms that fight against mutated organisms in some sort of micro-world, trying to keep the infection at bay. The setup is really unusual, and the gameplay is on board with it. The player doesn’t have any production plants, and his cellular army is grown from itself. When an organism reaches a certain state, it can divide itself into two exact copies, consuming some of the energy that the player can harvest in various ways. An organism can also mutate into a different one, with different characteristics and attacks. There is a cap at 25 different amoebas that the player can have, so it’s impossible to just crush the enemy with pure numbers â€“ the player needs to try different combinations for his army, and manage the amoebas so that they don’t get killed.
The biggest wonder of Amoebattle is, of course, its controls. I actually still find it hard to believe how comfortable they are. Not only is it easy to understand the control scheme, it also allows the player to micro-manage his army in plenty of ways. The player can choose units one by one, select several of them by circling his finger around them, select units of one type, add or remove units from selection, create up to three quick selection groups, and it’s all without bulky interface. The interface is a work of genius, and is definitely setting the game above many other RTS games present on the platform.
As a final word, I should add that Amoebattle will probably only be interesting to the fans of real-time strategies. It’s not very pretty, although the micro-scale makes for some wonderful and unusual atmoshpere. It’s also very difficult: the fourth mission in the campaign left me frustrated like very few things manage. I actually cursed out loud at the game, so I’m really hoping that the developer will create difficulty modes in the future. That said, it’s an incredible, unusual, and perfectly designed RTS, the likes of which are very rare on Android. I definitely like it.