We’re making good on our promise to bring you more mobile reviews more frequently, and our latest has arrived: Kingdoms at War, an MMOSG/MMORPG that claims to be the largest and most actively played MMORPG for iPhone / iPod Touch. Does KaW live up to its self-proclaimed hype?
Kingdoms at War offers iOS players the chance to build an army within a newly formed kingdom and build extensively powerful armies with the ultimate goal of conquering the world. Sounds familiar, sure, but KaW has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. Upon downloading and installing the game, the first thing we noticed was how adept at online player integration this game is (a marked departure from our last OSg iOS review Trade Nations). Freshly minted players enter a username and banner for their kingdom: banners dictate whether your kingdom is offensive heavy, defensive heavy or evenly balanced. As your kingdom is created and your strengths and weaknesses determined, you can begin building military outposts (which follow the theme of offensive, defensive or mixed strength, your choice).
As you build up your kingdom, you are actively prompted to launch war on neighboring kingdoms. These are not actual, live kingdoms controlled by other players – in the beginning it’s more of a tutorial system – and once your first ‘mock battle’ is completed (which you’ll be victorious in!) you are launched into the live game. This is where things get exciting, as Kingdoms at War allows players to battle each other live, in real time. This is very rare for a mobile platform game, and makes for a super addicting game experience. As I built up resources and had a more capable army, the prospect of battling live with other neighboring kingdoms proved to be quite addictive – I didn’t put the phone down for hours, every time I played while writing this review. The system is really that good.
After playing this game for several days, we can definitively say that Kingdoms at War is our favorite OSG for iOS. The game system is very rich, and highly detailed: your stats and those of neighboring (and in-battled) armies are easy to see, a simultaneous text chat window along the bottom of the screen allows social extensions of the game to occur while you play, marketplace access and allies stats are all easy to check – the game feels like you’re playing on a PC. It’s a very un-iOS experience (which is marked by simplicity and clutter-free controls): there’s a lot going on on-screen, but it’s all useful and thoughtfully placed. Graphics are rich and wars are super fun (and fair), fueling excitement to keep playing and avoid the real world. The clan system allows for players to unite forces and battle neighboring armies and clans. It’s so well thought out, we couldn’t think of anything to pick at – mostly.
One little peeve that got progressively worse as I explored the game was the extensive use of popup notifications when land is explored or any event happens. These are not in-game dialogue boxes, but rather iOS popup notifications. The horrible things that interrupt gameplay when a text message comes in, for example, and break the ‘flow’ of the game (why Steve Jobs couldn’t figure out an unobtrusive notification system to the tune of Android or Blackberry is beyond me – that’s a different article altogether).
This hiccup, however, is but a blemish on an otherwise near-remarkable game. It’s fun, it’s well polished, gameplay is multi-faceted and non-formulaic, and players have access to a plethora of information (from spies!) to aid battle strategy and army building. In-game purchases, though we did not test any, offer many more expansion options as well, if pay-to-play is your thing. The fact that it’s free is merely icing on the cake, as we would have gladly paid $4.99 for this game.