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Battle Nations

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Battle Nations | Publisher: Z2Live - A King Studio | Format: iPad | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Battle Nations iPad, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

Battle Nations is out now in the App Store and promises a blend of turn-based strategy and more traditional, Farmville-esque world-building.

Can you successfully blend a balanced and deep strategy game with an inherently monetisation-focused freemium builder? I couldn't possibly say.

Not for at least a week, anyway.

Because that's how long I'll be playing Battle Nations for, reporting back every few days on my gaming adventure. I hope you'll be able to join me on my journey, which begins right...


First impressions

What's most surprising about Battle Nations is the emphasis on its dramatic players and wartime story. I've found that with most freemium games you can pretty much skip the story, but with Battle Nations you'll want to stick around for the writing.

It's funny stuff, with some pretty memorable characters. You're in the continent of Ateria and war is breaking out after General Ashe has defected to the other side. In charge of helping you squash the rebel threat are a host of well-written individuals, the highlight of which is Lt. Morgan, a drunk tactician who barely seems interested in the conflict in which he's participating.

The late-'90s graffiti cartoon design of the portraits while each character is talking are evocative and detailed, and the isometric map on which you do battle and build structures has the clarity of an Advance Wars, albeit with more detail.

I'm still in the tutorial stages, and the game is very keen to hold me by the hand as I learn the ropes, but from what I've seen the battling has more strategy than the building. This is a run-of-the-mill builder, it's only once you go out into the battlefield that you're asked to think tactically. Do you concentrate all fire on one tough enemy, or take out several weaker ones at once?

I'm only a little way in, but already I'm starting to get hooked. Check back in a few days to see if I'm feeling the same way.

Day 3: Winning the battle

The pace of Battle Nations is deliberately slow. It eases you gradually into the numerous forms of gameplay on offer, and while the resource-building, upgrades, battle tactics, and so on will be nothing new to committed strategy fans, casual gamers will appreciate the gentle introduction.

Upgrading buildings to produce more resources, laying plots of farmland down to grow food, and installing pillbox defences to repel raiders will all be familiar to core gamers, but less so to fans of FarmVille and its various progeny.

IAPs explained
Nanopods are your premium currency of choice in Battle Nations. 69p / 99c will score you 20 of the blighters, and they're used for premium versions of certain troops, and to speed up processes. They're not essential, but they do reduce the friction of your passage through the game slightly.
The comedy continues to elicit genuine yucks, but just as refreshing is the tactical gameplay.

Where many games of this ilk allow you to win through sheer force of numbers, Battle Nations is a lot more concerned with forcing you to strategically place your troops for maximum effectiveness, based on their attacking range and their various strengths and weaknesses.

You'll also level up your troops through experience, so trying new combinations for your army and thinking a move or two ahead to minimise losses and have a well-rounded army is a necessity.

With my numbers going up constantly, my base expanding, and the humour continuing to hit home, I can't wait to see what more Battle Nations has to offer.

Day 7: Perkins's cookies

The quality writing continues unabated, and my level of involvement just keeps increasing. Battle Nations has so much going for it.

The number of elements you keep in balance keeps you hooked. You need to maintain population levels to open more shops, continue to build more troops, upgrade buildings, grow food, build tools, and construct defences. That's before you've even got to the battlefield action.

When I take the fight online against friends or random foes my victories feel hard won and totally deserved, whereas many games of this ilk are governed by luck or real money expenditure.

All of this nuance and detail gives Battle Nations the feeling of a tactical MMO: it's rich in world and varied in gameplay.

Satisfying and strategic, with loads to see, and a brilliantly realised cast of characters, Battle Nations is a crucial download if you're a fan of games like Command & Conquer and Final Fantasy Tactics but you fancy something ever so slightly more casual for your iOS device.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Battle Nations
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 6 June 2013
A top mix of building, strategising, and witty writing, Battle Nations is a tactical freemium builder that anyone can enjoy
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