Trade Nations just may be the greatest online games for the iOS platform – but is it a true strategy game? OSG1 is here to deliver some mind-bleeding insight. Yeah buddy.
At first blush, Trade Nations may seem like a knockoff of farmville 2.0, with a non-farm fantasy kingdom swapped in for corn, soybeans, and the like. And while this may be right, it’s certainly not a bad thing. The premise of the game is to create, grow and service a fully developed medieval-community from scratch that will rule them all. From the get-go, you are immediately presented with a small map and a cottage to build. You, newly elected mayor of TradeTown (we made that up, the town is actually nameless, strangely enough) are slowly but surely guided through the construction of town necessities, such as a logging camp and a stockpile yard. Once your cabin is built your village’s first inhabitant will appear, who can be immediately enslaved to work in any one of your newly constructed utility posts (enlist the villager at the logging camp and start collecting wood). This pattern continues until your kingdom-to-be grows some legs.
As your kingdom grows, more villagers will be necessary to man the utility posts, by use of magic beans (the game’s currency, which you can buy more of with real money – more on that later) or otherwise. Manpower management is a big theme in the game, as you cannot add an unlimited amount of villagers to your kingdom. As with most community-development strategy games, players need to decide how best to distribute their citizenry labor to boost your wood and gold purses, for example. While playing, we stuck to an even disbursement amongst various resources so as to have a nice balance of resources, but experiment and see where your decisions take you.
Here’s where we come to the game’s [admittedly few] gripes. First of all, the game does encourage spending real money on Trade Nations currency, in the form of in-app purchases. This may not be a big gripe to some, as it is not required and wholly optional, but the fact that some players who are better off financially than others does present a sort of irksome experience for less-financially abled players who may see this as an easy way for those with money to build up a bigger and more powerful kingdom without dedicated gameplay. Secondly, and again this may not be a big gripe for some, but the game has very few social features to qualify it as an “online” strategy game. The only aspect of “online” in this game is that it is indeed part of iOS’s “Game Center” which serves as a central score-keeping hub for all of your iOS games. You can compare numbers, scores etc with other players within Game Center (a separate app on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad), but the game doesn’t tie in with Facebook or any other network apart from allowing you to share your statistics on your own wall. These two small gripes, however don’t detract at all from the gameplay.
We have to admit, here at OSG1 we’re suckers for well made games. No, not just games that are fun, or that have compelling story lines, or even have hot babes (though who doesn’t love a steaming slice of cell-shaded sexy?), but games that are made and programmed well. They seem to be a rare gem these days, and Trade Nations? Well, it’s important to understand that for as fun as Trade Nations is, it really isn’t a strategy game. There isn’t really any commanding or conquering to be had, and although the player is able to develop and build up his or her village, it isn’t necessarily strategy. If you can get past this fact, you’re in for a treat. Trade Nations is simple in gameplay and low on frills. The Volvo of iOS games, if you will: safe, reliable and fairly fun. Gameplay is silky smooth. Animation is crisp. Soundtrack is – repetitive, but catchy (panpipes, a harp and bongos, can’t go wrong). Zero crashes, dialogue box mishaps or save errors.
If you are looking for a fun and simple game that decidedly strays from your typical strategy genre (and especially if you’re a farmville fanatic), download Trade Nations. It’s fun and it’s free. Get your video on here.