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iPad  header logo

Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Battling on

Product: Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin | Publisher: Space Ape Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin iPad, thumbnail 1
In February I went hands-on with the soft-launched version of Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin, and found it to be a very good looking strategy management game with a focus on combat.

Rival Kingdoms is now available globally, so it's time to revisit it and give the definitive Pocket Gamer review.

Can it compete with the other heavyweights of the genre, or is it destined to be just another also-ran like so many games before it? Stick with me and we'll find out together over the course of a week.

First impressions

When you begin playing Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin, it's easy to think that you're simply playing yet another take on Clash of Clans, Samurai Siege, Raids of Glory, and a billion other games. And in some ways, you are.

Rival Kingdoms is unmistakably a game in the strategy management genre. You do the sort of stuff you'd expect - like gathering resources, improving your home base, and attacking enemy encampments - and at a typically glacial pace for the most part.

Everything is constructed in real time, meaning that building a new tower or resource gathering mine will take minutes or hours, but can be skipped with a dash of premium currency.

Building walls protects your stuff, towers rain down fire upon invaders, and if your HQ is destroyed the attacker is victorious.

You gather resources quite slowly, and only have a couple of builders to work on new structures at any one time. But you can alleviate this former point by entering battles to win Gold.

Battles are quick, and the game constantly feels like it's pushing you to compete and conquer at every available opportunity.

Instead of waiting for troops to train, for example, as soon as you go into battle you have a full complement of soldiers. And powerful attacks are on hand from the Ancients you meet and earn through play, letting you demolish opponents quickly.

I'll talk more about the combat in another instalment of this review, but needless to say I can already tell that it's this aspect I'm going to enjoy the most.

IAPs explained
£3.99 / $4.99 will buy you a Value Pack of 1000 Diamonds, and bigger packs with better value are also available.

Diamonds are used for the usual stuff, like filling up resources and speeding up timers. You also get some through regular play.
Day 3: It's lunchtime and I'm hungry while I write this

The meat and potatoes of Rival Kingdoms may be managing your base and thinking about how you'll handle obtaining its various upgrades, but the delicious gravy drizzled all over it is the combat.

You choose to tackle the (seemingly quite chunky) single player or PvP multiplayer, and then begin dropping units onto the field of battle.

As you do, the game informs you which building will be targeted first by your squad, and you plan your attacks accordingly as different squads have different strengths and weaknesses.

When you destroy structures you earn the ability to wield Ancient powers, and it's here that Rival Kingdoms sets itself apart from competitors.

Which Ancient you take into combat is up to you, and each one has abilities that will allow you to specialise the way you play.

You might want to support your troops by buffing their stats, or take out a tower by casting down a punishing strike, or bring in an extra - and very powerful - unit to fight alongside your regulars.

The decision is yours, but it keeps you engaged with the outcome of the battle and makes for a more active and hands-on experience.

The handsome 3D engine behind Rival Kingdoms makes encounters look spectacular while retaining unit clarity, and the sound design is of an equally high quality.

It all loads up snappily too. This is a production with a lot of money behind it, and it's very obvious throughout that that's the case.

Day 7: Joining forces

If you're playing the game at the moment then you should join the "Pocket Gamer" Kingdom, because I think I'm going to need some pals in the clan warfare leagues.

At least five others must join you before you can take part in this competitive aspect of the game, but the high rewards for being an active member seem like they'll be more than worth the effort.

You'll need those rewards to make faster progression, as the game is still quite slow-paced at the end of my review time with it.

You can speed things up with the generous amount of Diamonds you're initially given, but they're going to run out at some point.

But at least the upgrading process is as streamlined as possible. Rival Kingdoms places little flags next to buildings that can be upgraded, and this ensures you can quickly check in on the game, see if there's anything you can do, grab your resources, and get back out quickly.

Or you can hang around and do a bunch of battling. The game continues to be an active and aggressive experience, constantly pushing you to do battle with other players, tweak your defences using an easy-to-use editor, and generally conquer the world.

Battle Crystals can limit how often you attack, but they're dished out regularly enough to sate your thirst for conflict.

Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin is an impressive title then, even if progression is slow, and it's one that manages to distinguish itself from similar games with its excellent presentation and focus on battles.

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. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 22 May 2015
It's not a huge step forward for the strategy management genre, but Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin is nonetheless an entertaining battler for armchair generals
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