Empire Z is Ember Entertainments latest entry into the zombie genre. Despite the splash screen showing a group of zombies attacking four heavily armed heroes perched atop a taxi, Empire Z plays as a standard mobile city builder / strategy game and has little to do with zombies.
The idea of zombies could have made a very interesting strategy game. A severe lack of resources, risking the people and equipment you have to go forage for needed supplies, having to sacrifice any of your soldiers who were bit or risk everyone turning into zombies. But alas, despite the different art this plays like your cookie cutter OSG, rather set in space or antiquity.
Last War is the first attempt at a freemium game by Gamevil deviating from their successful retro action RPG style of games. I struggle a bit to really classify this style of game, but lets call it a hardcore menu-based World War II tactical game.
Stormfall was one of the better online strategy games on Facebook during the platform’s height. Plarium recently released the game on iOS, which gives us the perfect opportunity to review it.
Stormfall has a beautifully rendered city-view, with a lot of humorous animations playing all the time, which gives your domain a nice sense of life. There are soldiers marching around, a dragon flying around, a dwarf floating down the river in a barrel, etc.
Innogames, who brought us Tribal Wars and Grepolis all those years ago, recently released Forge of Empires for the iPad, and OSG1 is here to give it a test-drive. It’s a online strategy game whose design relies heavily on player engagement. Plan and build your city, train a few troops to do battle, and tap, tap, tap for resources. Conquering new territory is performed by way of a turn based battle with NPC enemies. There is even some PvP in the form of turn based duels.
Forge of Empires has a strong single player campaign, and complex city planning which is what this game does well.
Boom Beach is a free to play strategy game from Supercell, creator of Clash of Clans. I mention Clash of Clans because this is the same game with a new wrapper and no chat. The setting has changed, and the graphics are much improved. The gameplay itself is extremely similar mixing city building with strategy. It does have a slight story …. Something about evil invaders or the like. The main objective being to capture as many bases scattered around yours as possible.
If you take a look at the App Store, you’ll see a lot of games in the strategy category. But are any of these actually strategy games?
What then is strategy? Max McKeown argues that “strategy is about shaping the future” and is the human attempt to get to “desirable ends with available means”. Okay, that’s interesting, but could just as well applied to shaping a future where I am not hungry by eating this biscuit. Maybe we’ll have better luck with “Strategy Game”?
Wikipedia says that “A strategy game… is a game in which the players’ un-coerced, and often autonomous decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome.” This is still bollocks though, because decision-making skills is so vague that we’re not saying anything.
A strategy game is a game in which each player’s ability to anticipate their opponent’s move has a high significance in determining the outcome.
This means that, contrary to what Apple would have you believe, Cookie Jam is not a strategy game.
Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned veteran, Game of War cleverly manages to attack you with decision making challenges which require some thought and effort to overcome. While some of them occur from the sheer vastness of the game and the diversity of possible gameplay styles, others arise from the partial information intentionally placed for you, the player, to explore.
Since you made it this far, I’ll try to shed some light on some of the most frequent hidden mechanisms in the game, hopefully helping you by backing your decision making process with some solid gameplay facts. Shall we start?
War of Nations is a great OSG that forges new ground in a lot of areas, but stays true to the core strategy gameplay.
With a modern-military setting, as expected you’ll upgrade buildings to harvest Oil, Steel, Gasoline, and Money. You’ll train tanks, helicopters, mechs, and more.
What really sets War of Nations apart is that there is no separate city view and map view. Your main base consists of a dozen or so building slots around your Command Center, all of which are directly on the map. You can see specifically which buildings anyone else in the game has, and can target the directly. If you want to raid Oil, you should attack an enemy Oil Derrick, or if you want to raid Gasoline, you should attack an enemy Refinery.
Game of War is a fascinating case study (if you’re a strategy game nerd such as myself). On the one hand it is the pinnacle and refinement of the online strategy game genre, but in other ways it is the desecration of the same.
Looking straight at the mechanics, it’s easy to trace the lineage from Travian, to Evony, Kingdoms of Middle Earth, and finally Game of War. Build and upgrade mines to harvest resources, spent to upgrade more buildings, train troops, and do research. There are five different troop classes with the standard loop of who beats who. Infantry beats Cavalry beats Ranged, etc. As is standard these days you also have a hero who provides bonuses to your economy and military, levels up, etc. It also uses the “tried and true” medieval theme, which I have long-since grown tired of.
Could it be true? Has Oliver returned? After two long years (two years!), OSG1 (Online Strategy Games) is back!
While in the fortress of solitude, It seems there has been a huge shift in the marketplace. When I posted my last article, Online Strategy Games were really a niche market. Even among strategy-gamers, the biggest names were Civilization or Starcraft, games that you would play with a few people at most, and never offered persistent worlds. While Travian and Ikariam had millions of players worldwide, their numbers were small compared to other strategy games, and tiny compared to game franchises like World of Warcraft.
But now, the iPhone, iPad, and Android comprise some of the biggest gaming platforms out there. They are also a perfect fit for Online Strategy Games since you will always have access to your empire and can receive alerts whenever someone is attacking you. Looking at the top games on these new platforms, it seems some of the biggest ones are online strategy games!
Game of War, Kingdoms of Middle Earth, War of Nations, These titles are right up there with games like Angry Birds or Monument Valley. As foretold, OSG’s have inherited the earth! I took one look at Kate Upton here and knew it was time for OSG1 to make a comeback.
Look forward to more reviews about this new generation of mobile strategy games and see which are deserving of your military genius.