Battle Nations adds guns to Trade Nations, but removes the personality
With Empires & Allies, Zynga essentially took the CityVille template and added combat to it. And with Battle Nations, developer Z2Live has done something very similar. In a lot of ways it’s Trade Nations with turn-based combat. You still build up a city, harvest resources, and create goods. Only now you have to deal with training troops and defending your territory as well. It doesn’t have the deepest city building mechanic, and the simplified combat leaves something to be desired, but when put together the two halves make for a largely enjoyable experience.
The game puts you in control of a military commander as you, as far as we can tell, attempt to expand your empire into new areas. The story can be a little hard to follow at times and what you’re doing and why you’re doing it aren’t always clear. This is a drastic departure from Trade Nations which had no real story at all. But in Battle Nations you’ll be forced to sit through lots and lots of exposition. Characters will give you missions and just generally chatter away whenever something of importance happens. Some of the characters are fun, in particular the young mechanic, but the story and world aren’t all that interesting and so the dialog can become an obstacle in the way of the actual game.
It’s worth pushing through all the text though, because there’s a lot to enjoy in Battle Nations. Your ultimate goal is not only to build up a bustling military city but to create an army to ensure it’s well defended, as well. The city building portion of the game feels quite similar to Trade Nations, though with a few elements removed. You still build homes to increase your population, mine for resources to build new structures, and produce goods to earn cash and experience. There’s even farming this time around. However, individual townspeople are no longer represented in the game, and instead are reduced to nothing but a number.
Replacing some of the game’s missing elements are the military features. You’ll need to place defensive structures, since your base can be attacked both by other players in the game and NPC characters. This forces you to use a bit more strategy when creating the layout for your base, as you need to make sure that everything is well protected. You can also train troops and even heal injured ones in combat with a hospital.
Combat itself is quite simple. It’s completely turn-based and has a rock-paper-scissor mentality to it. You and your opponent — whether computer controlled or a real live person — take turns attacking, one unit at a time. Certain types of units are stronger against others, and so the strategy lies in knowing who to attack and with what unit. In addition to the combat missions throughout the story, you can also fight either friends or random players in timed battles. These work the same way and your units will get damaged just as they would during single-player campaign.
It’s also important to note that during our testing period we experienced a lot of stability issues. The game crashed regularly, sometimes several times in a single battle. Thankfully, the game at least saves your progress in combat, making things slightly less frustrating.
Battle Nations attempts to do much more than its predecessor, and in a lot of ways it’s a much deeper experience. You still get to build up a massive city-base, but this time you get to fight bad guys too. But the game definitely doesn’t have the personality of Trade Nations, thanks to a combination of far less interesting art style and a forgettable story that make this a less interesting world to be in. But at least you can blow it all up.