Total Domination is a sci-fi take on Facebook strategy that looks great and plays average
Strategy games on Facebook have, to a certain degree, ossified around the time-consuming Travian formula of manufacturing resources, building armies, and battling other players for dominance and territory. Only variations in the GUI skin and the theme sometimes separate these games, which otherwise use a very standard interface. Total Domination: Nuclear Strategy is a take on this type of game that clearly wants to shake up some aspects of the formula, particularly the tendency toward Spartan, near-identical user interfaces.
Total Domination uses an isometric viewpoint and lets you build much larger, fully-animated buildings as part of your holdings. The developers intend the game to be played in a more immersive fashion than typical Facebook games and the tutorial makes it clear that you’re supposed to be playing it in fullscreen mode. While many Facebook games make a fullscreen mode available, it’s usually treated as an optional display mode for players who might be settling in for a longer session than the typical coffee-break Facebook play.
There’s not much room for coffee-break play in Total Domination, which is instead focused on drawing players into the game world. In addition to the detailed graphics there’s full voice acting for quest text to convey the feeling that you’re a recruit going through basic training. The few game menus are designed to have rich visual appeal, featuring lots of still art and interfaces meant to emulate futuristic computers. The actual gameplay in Total Domination is very clearly just typical social strategy stuff, but Plarium has put a lot of effort into making the game look and feel very striking.
There is a downside to Plarium’s immersion-heavy approach in Total Domination, though. There are some ways in which the menu-heavy, small-icon approach to the typical social strategy game is very practical. It lets you do things like manage your army very quickly, with one or two clicks and no hunting around for the right building icon. Total Domination is quite the opposite, often forcing you to go into fullscreen and hunt around for just the right building icon to click on in order to start vital processes like manufacturing units.
Total Domination is not a bad game but it’s a difficult one to recommend. There’s nothing substantially wrong with the gameplay, but it’s not especially better than what you’d find in comparable but more traditional games like Kingdoms of Camelot (and there are plenty of these that opt for a sci-fi theme, such as Edgeworld). While the graphics are very nice, they make the game frustrating to play when you’re not in fullscreen mode. There’s clearly a growing market for more immersive experiences on Facebook, but it’s still primarily a platform of coffee break gaming. Total Domination: Nuclear Strategy demands much more of a player’s time and attention.