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3DS  header logo

Cube Tactics

For: 3DS

Block and Roll

Product: Cube Tactics | Developer: Fun Unit | Publisher: Treyon | Format: 3DS | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Cube Tactics 3DS, thumbnail 1
Cube Tactics starts out like a wrapped present - exciting and full of wonder.

But as you peel away the layers of this colourful strategy title it emerges that the game underneath is about as exciting as a pair of socks.

Building blocks

You begin with a core cube that you have to protect, while also attempting to destroy the enemy's core by placing down different cubes.

Cubes can either be used as stepping-stones to traverse the map or something heftier like small buildings that produce soldiers, ninjas, or the ever-so-useful builders, who smash down enemy forts with ease.


This guy's about to fail miserably

Buildings placed next to each other combine into stronger structures. Should you place four cubes in a 4x4 pattern, the constituent bases become one mega base. There's also the option of placing traps or cannons.

Each level begins with you building outward from your core cube as you attempt to topple the enemy's already constructed base. Every time a new level is loaded, the layout of the enemy base – and its cubes/buildings – is changed. Some levels are a cakewalk, while others are nightmarishly unbalanced.

Some serious stones

The trick to keeping a steady flow of available cubes comes via the game's power system. Different cubes take up different amounts of power.

Simple stepping stones cost one bar of power, while the bigger structures cost four bars. The power bar depletes with each use but can be refilled by sitting around and waiting. Meaning, balancing block-placement with power consumption becomes a key component to winning battles.


See those cannons? Yeah, you can't build there, mate

But here's the thing: all of the above makes Cube Tactics sound like a strategy game, only it's not. Cube Tactics does a great job of creating an illusion of strategy where there is none.

You'll feel like you're supposed to play it tactically, but in reality you're better off just slamming every piece down as fast as possible and hoping for the best.

The game infuriatingly goes out of its way to move faster than you. In some levels, you're overrun long before you've had a chance to devise a master plan.

I hate cannons

Take Level 9. It starts, and you're under fire from two cannons. After a few restarts you realise you've got to build some walls to stay alive. Okay, fine. Walls are good. I get that.

But because of building this wall, you're now out of space and have to dump bases anywhere they'll fit, as quickly as possible before the wall comes crashing down.

Build a wall. Dump bases anywhere. Hope for the best. That isn't strategy - that's the game forcing you to stagger into a solution through trial-and-error.


You're the blue core, and you're going to die, sorry

Cube Tactics
's other problem is that it's unbalanced. You can stack cubes on top of each other, unless it's where an enemy has had something of importance, in which case tough luck. Enemies can start levels with a fully constructed base, complete with cannons, but should you destroy the enemies' cannon, you're not permitted to build on top of it.

Why? The game teaches you to seize areas and build them up, then it goes and completely ignores its own rules.

It also doesn't help that the AI is thick as mud. On Level 24 I set up a nice 4x4 fort, meaning in principle that anyone who went near it would be brutally killed.

What actually happened was an enemy just strolled right through the middle, past all my guards, and went on to single-handedly destroy my core as my guards plodded off without a care in the world.

Idiots

It's not that the game's too hard, either - it's that it's unfair and unbalanced. It moves too fast to allow for any real tactical thought, soldiers are unreliable, and the enemy team can use areas the player can't.


You unlock this mode after Level 25, but you won't care

The illusion of strategy dissolves over the course of the 25 single-player levels. Once you've beaten them there's a new mode where you play against AI opponents who build their bases from scratch (as opposed to having fully built bases the off), but by the time that's unlocked you'll probably have given up all hope and lost interest in playing further.

Promise and potential ooze from Cube Tactics, which is what makes its shortcomings so hard to swallow. There are brief flashes of brilliance as you peel back the layers, but with its frequent annoyances and balancing issues, Cube Tactics is hard to enjoy, let alone recommend.
 
Cube Tactics
Reviewer photo
Wesley Copeland | 14 March 2014
The potential for something brilliant's there. But annoyances and balancing issues prevent Cube Tactics from being anything other than a disappointment
 
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