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Apoc Wars

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Apoc Wars | Developer: gloops | Publisher: DeNA | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.2.1
Apoc Wars iPhone, 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.

Strategy games are enjoying something of a renaissance on tablet devices.

Though early attempts at resurrecting classic tactical franchises like Command & Conquer and Civilization had mixed results, more recently developers are banging out the hits. Just look at Warhammer Quest and Battle Nations.

Among the latest entries in the genre is Apoc Wars. Will gloops's blend of resource-gathering, structure-building, and enemy-attacking gameplay be enough to join the ranks of the best strategy games on mobile? Or does it deserve a trip to the firing squad?

First impressions

The currently thin narrative that Apoc Wars attempts to weave is that the world has gone through an apocalypse, and now it's us good guys versus those dirt bags.

Sorry: Dirtbags.

Because that's their name: The Dirtbags.

It doesn't appear that the rich fabric of human nature will be explored in Apoc Wars, and I'm already 99 percent confident that I can begin skipping the fluffy dialogue that's sure to come my way.

There's an almost Cannon Fodder look to the visuals when battling, but the character design and menus are a bit too close to early 2000 AD for my liking. The best features of the presentation are the dark synths that ominously sweep across the soundtrack, and they're totally evocative of a landscape ravaged by technology.

IAPs explained
The premium currency here is called Blood Money, and you can earn it very quickly yourself for very little effort just by completing Missions. If you want to buy it instead, you can expect to splash out 69p / 99c for five.

You use Blood Money to purchase resources and speed up actions, but you can also buy equipable items that change the colour of your buildings and smoke, or confer stat bonuses.
The gameplay so far is a fairly standard mix of building and real-time combat. You construct facilities, such as the troop-training Barracks, and then place Turrets to defend them in case of attack. The game seems to revolve around protecting your Command Centre, and thus your ability to produce resources.

In terms of combat, the first thing you do is uncover the fog of war as much as you can with spying technology, and after selecting troops to enter the war zone you go about systematically destroying every building you possibly can while avoiding getting destroyed yourself.

It's early days, of course, but so far the combat is quite basic - little more than avoiding the gaze of too many turrets at once. However, there are still six days of play remaining, which is plenty of time for things to change.

Day 3: Not-so-complex manoeuvres

Apoc Wars has become only slightly more taxing, but it's just enough of a challenge to keep you enthused about the combat - not to mention the injection of XP that comes with trashing an enemy base.

There's now an increased emphasis on sending in spy tech to scope out fortified positions, in order to ensure that your troops don't take a hammering from enemy turrets. It's then a case of figuring out the best way of taking on each defence individually so that you avoid triggering too many at one time.

In large numbers your forces can easily overwhelm most turrets, but if there are walls around these gun placements - or they're grouped together with other turrets - then you risk losing soldiers quickly.

The only slight issue I've found with this portion of the game is that when you've taken out all nearby threats and started firing at the Command Centre with no fear of reprisal, it can take minutes until this central building is destroyed. Your troops don't have an effective method of destroying brick and mortar, so you end up waiting patiently for them to shoot it to pieces.

Again, it's only a minor niggle. Otherwise, I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. I've got a few days left, and I'm hoping that even more is added to this formula.

Day 7: Barbed wire fence

I've hit a point in the game where I need to grind out battles with opponents to acquire experience points, increase my rank so that I can train new unit types, and then use those new units to beat an opponent that's far beyond my current level.

Because the level of strategy is fairly low, the rule of thumb is: might makes right. There are therefore some instances where your piddly little squad of grunts just isn't enough to take down an entire camp, and that means taking on weaker foes until you earn a high enough Security Clearance to wield new weapons of war.

When you do get your hands on a few tanks, though, that map you were having so many problems with becomes an absolute breeze.

Happily, there doesn't seem to be a significant paywall - other than when you run out of resources to make new units and must wait for more to be gathered - so it never feels like the game is doing any of this to make a quick buck.

It's not as complex as some strategy fans will want, and grinding matches out can become a little choresome, but Apoc Wars is nevertheless a top-drawer release.

With excellent controls, easily understandable tactics, loads of content, and a look that's both appealing and practical, it's another great strategy game for a device that's quickly becoming the hardware of choice for fans of the genre.

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.
Apoc Wars
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 13 June 2013
A top strategy title for those that have a more casual interest in the genre, or for those that are put off by more complicated games of this ilk
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