Genre:  Strategy

Fates Forever Preview: OpenFeint's creator wants to bridge the core divide

Oct 7, 2013

If it’s possible for a wide-eyed dreamer and a logic-minded pragmatist to coexist in the same brain, you can find them in the mind of Jason Citron. You can hear both sides of this seemingly oxymoronic arrangement emerge when listening to him talk about his current company, Hammer & Chisel, and the game he’s hoping will have core gamers logging hours of play on their tablets, Fates Forever.

Citron’s status as a visionary in the mobile gaming space is undeniable. As the founder and CEO of Aurora Feint, he was a bona fide App Store pioneer, getting the game of the same name into the very first wave of apps to hit the storefront. He’s probably even better known as the developer of OpenFeint, the late, mostly lamented social platform that was purchased by GREE in 2011 only to be shut down 20 months later.

With time and money to plan his next venture, it wasn’t long before Citron got the itch to dive back into gaming. But as a self-described core gamer, he has a different goal in mind for Hammer & Chisel. He wants to prove that the same kind of experience that people have come to expect from consoles or PCs is possible on tablets.

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Call to Arms Preview: Raising that military bar

Oct 4, 2013

GREE’s upcoming Call to Arms isn’t attempting to reinvent the wheel. It’s simply aiming to be a higher-quality wheel that will be appreciated by a wider array of wheel enthusiasts, and roll better on whatever terrain it is placed. Time is the only way we’ll know for sure if people want to invest in a new wheel, but GREE’s efforts and little changes to the design are great steps in the right direction.

The wheel I speak of, of course, is Supercell’s Clash of Clans. Often imitated but never duplicated, Clash has been sitting pretty at the top of the mobile strategy world for some time. Other developers have made attempts to jump into this space, but even the ones with an Android presence (whereas Clash was only up until recently a long-time iOS-exclusive) fail to stand on their own. GREE has been taking notes on these efforts. They’ve been quietly working on Call to Arms.

Call to Arms

We recently had an opportunity to briefly speak with members of the Call to Arms development team and check out a bit of the gameplay. They weren’t shy about their similarities to Clash of Clans, having even name dropped it a couple times during our discussion. During our first glance at the game, the similarities were unmistakably similar, as well.  Base construction, resource gathering, army building, and even battles don’t really do much to separate this game from its inspiration. However, GREE has been putting effort into the details.

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Dragon Realms Preview: Of gold and guilds

Oct 2, 2013

GREE’s upcoming title Dragon Realms is visually fluid. Seriously, I could spend an hour just watching enemies marching around on the screen (and when I’m done writing, I may very well do that). The latest entry in GREE’s RPG+ franchise looks to further blend simplicity and depth. Slick visuals, tons of single player content, and an emphasis on guild play drive the title forward as we near its launch.

Guilds were one of the biggest points of emphasis when we spoke to GREE earlier this week. In many mobile and free-to-play games, guilds and alliances are just there. Developers seem to put them into the game because players expect to have the option to join a guild, even if nothing of value results from the opportunity. While guild-based quests and events are nothing out of the ordinary, GREE is making a few moves that add to the traditional guild functions.

Dragon Realms

One of the neatest functions is the inclusion of guild bonuses. Guilds have a list of bonuses that can be purchased to better support the team and its members. When a member has enough gold, he or she can purchase a bonus. These bonuses range from increasing the maximum number of guild members to increasing the effectiveness of certain character skills. These power-ups and abilities aim to help players tackle events.

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Greed for Glory: War Strategy Review: One small step towards medieval world conquest

Oct 1, 2013

Greed for Glory: War Strategy enters the freemium field with exciting but strangely run-of-the-mill gameplay. It's similar to titles like Battle Dragons and Clash of Clans: the only real difference being a new setting and art style. But despite lacking any sort of innovation, PerBlue's medieval-themed building/combat sim will keep you strangely captivated for weeks on end. Just go easy on the diamonds, okay?

Greed for Glory puts you at the helm of a small village looking to become more than a collection of wooden huts. Build new structures as you mine iron and gold, collecting as much currency as you can so you can raise a massive army of archers, knights, and wizards. With all of those trained soldiers milling around, might as well head out and attack nearby villages, right? Increase your fame (and your loot) by sacking other towns, slowly expanding and upgrading your base to accommodate your newfound power and glory.

Greed for Glory sticks with the basics as far as building and resource management are concerned. A simple icon-based menu system allows you to choose which structures to place and where to place them. Quarries and mines pull iron and gold out of the ground, while barracks let you train troops to send into battle. Builder shops house workers, trebuchets fling stones at enemies, and still more buildings help you store your riches, upgrade your armies, and keep your village safe from attack. The screen is a little cluttered with information, but it's something you quickly learn to ignore, as what's happening in the center is far more interesting!

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Combat Monsters Preview: Ruling the world one deck at a time

Sep 20, 2013

I've been playing a game called Combat Monsters recently, and although it's still in beta, I have to say that I'm very impressed. Rubicon Development, the studio behind the game, describes it as a combination of "a traditional RPG battler with a deck constructing game," and while I'm not entirely sure what that means, the most obvious influence is Magic: The Gathering.

"I’ve been an avid player of [Magic: The Gathering] all my life, but it’s always annoyed me in a way that the online game is still just a card game, but online," Rubicon co-founder and managing director Paul Johnson said. "I wanted to make something in a similar mold, with similar mechanics, but have a proper tactical element to it; and a game board to move your pieces around on."

Combat Monsters

Thus, Combat Monsters. The game takes place on a virtual game board that changes in shape and size between matches, rendered in 3D, on which you'll place and equip monsters, cast spells, play magical runes, and more. But rather than simply controlling the action from on high, you're represented on the board as a playable character, as is your enemy. Victory is earned by slaying your enemy's avatar; defeat comes if he does the same to you.

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Cavemania Review: Not your ancestor’s match-three game

Sep 19, 2013

Cavemania is the long-awaited result of what happens when developer BonusXP partners up with publisher Yodo1 to release Yodo1’s very first global game: and let me tell you, this thing is more exciting than the discovery of fire. The bulk of Cavemania is played out on a simple match-three game board, which is filled in from top to bottom with colorful items that cavemen would normally find out in the wild and harvest for their precious resources: apples and carrots; leafy trees and pine trees; rocks and gold ore. Matching three or more of each item will net you a nice share of their respective resource, which you’ll need for reaching the goal in some levels, or to put towards building things in others.

But now here’s the big twist that sets Cavemania apart from other match-three adventures just like it: your Chieftan character also occupies a space on this changing game board, and you’ll need to utilize his position in order to do battle or protect delicate structures from meeting their end in the harsh realities of nature. What’s cool about this is that you’re always able to make any move on the board that you want, and permanently swap any two items regardless of whether they make a match or not.

This heightens the overall strategy of the game to exciting new levels: for instance, you might opt out of farming new resources for a few moves, if the current situation calls for you to move you Chieftan into fighting position with the deadly beasts and wildlife that also populate the game board from time to time; or conversely, you might want to move an injured Chieftan away from any harm until you can better gather your bearings. Your characters will automatically attack an enemy whenever they are in close range (one square away, either adjacent or diagonally), but be careful because the enemies will also be able to do exactly the same! Luckily, matching four or more like-items in a single move will reward you with a rare blue crystal, which can then be used at will to unleash a particularly devastating attack on your unsuspecting foes.

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Castle Clash Review: An adequate base-builder that fails to innovate

Sep 17, 2013

Perhaps the most commonly regurgitated complaint from mobile gaming’s critics is that there’s way too much copycatting in that portion of the industry. While the haters claim the lack of originality is a bad thing, it isn’t inherently so. Many of the “blatant ripoffs” we’ve seen on Android and iOS has been about as good—if not better—than the games that inspired them. Then there are games like Castle Clash, which obviously draw inspiration, but lack that certain oomph needed to hold its own.

Similar to last month’s Jungle Heat, Castle Clash is a base-building strategy game that requires players to build armies, attack enemies, research goods, gather resources, and become the most powerful player. Anyone who’s played games like Clash of Clans and Jungle Heat will notice the immediate similarities. While the art style is different, the actual gameplay is pretty much identical. The game kicks off with a brief tutorial session then leaves you with a barebones base with minimal defense. From there, you need to upgrade your structures and hire troops.

 Castle Clash

The single player offerings are limited, but important. There’s a series of levels players can play through as they wish. Each level consists of a battle against a pre-built base, making it an excellent tool for helping new players learn how to play, as well as what does and does not work when constructing a base.  Rather than mocking players with the hodgepodge of levels in multiplayer, the level-based single player mode will quickly evolve from “a nice way to earn a few resources” to “adapt or die!”

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Castle Clash Walkthrough

Sep 14, 2013

Castle Clash is a freemium strategy game created by IGG.COM. In it, you’ll construct and defend your base, gather resources, build an army, and attack enemies. Gamezebo’s quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.

 Castle Clash

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Strata Review: A rich puzzle-solving tapestry

Sep 13, 2013

Simplicity, elegance, and challenge: the three features developer Graveck has emphasized in their latest gaming excursion, Strata.  The one-touch gameplay of this minimalist-designed puzzler will take only seconds to learn, and after its brief tutorial, Strata no longer feels like a mere game.  It is a mesmerizing, soothing exercise of both mental dexterity and artistic creation, built on fluid interactions with the player that embody Graveck’s three goals entirely.

Strata’s objective is simple: weave colored ribbons through a grid to complete the pattern.  Each opening of the grid must be filled by a ribbon, and ribbons travel in a straight line once placed, exiting the opposite side.  This means that on a 3x3 grid, you will weave six total strips of ribbon to fill each opening.  The only other rule in play requires any colored block on the grid to end up with its same-colored ribbon on top.  Because you are cross weaving, this means the second ribbon to cross a block will be on top; to successfully complete a blue block, for instance, you can cross it with any color first, but must use a blue ribbon on the second crossover.

These minimal rules create a usually straightforward solution on smaller, two-colored levels when choices are limited, but Strata quickly ups the ante by increasing the number of colored ribbons—up to four—and grid sizes—up to 5x5.  The options on a 5x5 level, where you must weave ten separate ribbons through up to 25 blocks, are extensive, and often nine seemingly correctly placed ribbons can be foiled by the very last one.  Thankfully, undoing your last action or series of actions is as easy as touching the ribbons in play, although completing a level without a single undo will earn you a “perfect,” the only system of scoring present.

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Game of War - Fire Age Walkthrough

Sep 13, 2013

Game of War – Fire Age is an action strategy game from Machine Zone, wherein you will be tasked with building up an army of brave warriors ready to do your bidding as you please. You will need to manage your resources, recruit and train troops, and then use them to attack your foes in order to be king. With Gamezebo’s quick start guide, you’ll have all of the tips, tricks, and walkthroughs you’ll need to stay ahead of the game.

Game of War - Fire Age

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