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iPhone  header logo

Epic

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Epic | Developer: Gameloft | Publisher: Fox Mobile Entertainment | Format: iPhone | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
 
Epic 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 to day three or day seven.

Epic is the latest movie from underwhelming CG movie manufacturer Blue Sky Studios, which previously brought you Robots, Rio, and, your nephew's favourite franchise, Ice Age.

It's also the name of a tie-in freemium builder, with a few battle elements thrown in for good measure, made by the folks at Gameloft.

Will its green-thumbed aesthetic, easy-going child-friendly gameplay, and big budget soon-to-be-largely-forgotten animated Hollywood blockbuster source material make for a naturally good game? Or should you leave this one to mulch?

First impressions

Games need to make a good first impression - especially in a marketplace where the barrier to entry is less than the price of a chocolate bar. If you don't grab your audience immediately, you've lost half the battle already.

If you've played any number of freemium building games before, then you'll recognise the uninspired setup here immediately, and that's a big disappointment.

You have to - get this - produce resources, wait for them to be created, collect them, then use them to build more essential but expendable elements. You make Nectar, you collect it in a Nectar Reservoir, and you use it to produce Leafmen, who fight your battles for you.

Oh yes, there's that strategy element. You place the Leafmen you would like to use into a formation before attacking some creatures called Boggans. Apparently, Boggans are bad, and you spend your time in the battling element of the game wiping them out.

After a quick battle, the outcome of which determined by mathematical equations (and a bit of luck), you head back to the construction stage of the game.

You then repeat this process, ticking off missions as you go along, which moves the super thin story along. You can also buy extra plots of land to expand the area you can build on.

Does any of this sound familiar? If it doesn't, and you like the movie on which it's based, I can already tell you that you should give Epic a go. It's a completely typical effort in the freemium builder genre.

Day 3: Underwhelming

After a few days of playing Epic I'm almost convinced that I'll conclude this review by calling it a decent production of an average game.

Things would have to change dramatically for this to not be the case, and Epic doesn't seem particularly interested in either drama or change.

This is still a very similar game in terms of structure to basically every freemium builder post-FarmVille, and the battles I mentioned earlier aren't helping it much because they continue to be far too simple.

IAPs explained
Three resources are at play in Epic: Seeds, Nectar, and Aura. The only one you need to be particularly concerned about is Aura.

Aura allows processes to be sped up, and for you to purchase some items in the game. You can nab 150 for £1.49 / $1.99, or you can get it free through play or by watching trailers for games. Considering adding another Worker - so that you can construct more buildings at once - costs 400 Aura, this seems a little on the steep side.
There are small quests to complete, given out immediately after completing the last, and each is based on one of the core gameplay elements: building, collecting, training troops, and winning battles.

This means there's very little variety. When you complete one quest to train three specific types of troop, and the next is to train four of exactly the same troop, and the one after that is five it becomes difficult to get excited about them.

You're doing roughly the same things, in exactly the same ways, several times, until you get bored and walk away. When you add this to the general paucity of inspiration in the tried and tested gameplay, it can become a very tiring game.

Perhaps this is why the visuals are so busy: to keep you distracted. Each building is highly detailed, well animated creatures constantly roam around, and the game likes to display lots of information in the fast-moving battles. It looks very good, and the soundscape is suitably bio-magical.

The game looks the part, and I'm not being turned off by the experience - it's just that it's an experience I've already had several times before.

Day 7: Fall

Epic has barely changed. What's more, I'm starting to run up against a few pay walls, and I don't care enough to stick around.

Working my way through the campaign map, I realised that I could easily win most battles by upgrading units and buildings enough to bull my way through each encounter.

The 'Auto Deploy' button proves the most best use of your soldiers. While you do occasionally have to time a tap to deal more damage to the enemy, but this occurence is infrequent and unsatisfying.

You have a set number of workers (starting with two), so you can only perform a number of actions at any one time, and this can severely impede progress when you've got a long build in front of you.

There are the usual social hooks, too. You can create potions, but you'll need ingredients, and the only way to get these is to beg your friends for them. You can visit the towns of your mates as well, and help them collect resources while they're not playing.

You can also attack them, using the same rock-paper-scissors battle system from the single-player. And again, you can bull your way through it with more powerful troops, or a greater willingness to spend money on victory. Everything about Epic's social side is tried, tested, and tiresome.

I was right in my prediction at the start of day three: this is a decent production of an average game. There was clearly a bit of money ploughed into the development of this freemium builder, but very little of it seems to have gone towards brainstorming new ideas, or oiling the creaky mechanics of the genre.

If you like builders, you haven't played one for a bit, and like the licence, then this won't disappoint you. But nor will it particularly interest you.

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.
 
Epic
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 6 June 2013
A mix of FarmVille, Clash of Clans, and any other popular freemium builder you care to mention released in the last couple of years, the only thing Epic can call its own is its licence
 
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Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
125
Josh Dombro | 20:27 - 6 June 2013
I'm waiting for someone to fix this broken genre. I feel like this took a step with the battles, and many other have done something like this, but ultimately it's a really small diversion among a ton of waiting. These games need some kind of worthwhile diversion that actually impacts the larger game you're playing. Obviously I don't have the whole answer, but steps in the right direction are better than no steps at all...
Joined:
Jan 2010
Post count:
491
curtisrshideler | 13:48 - 3 June 2013
We all have to do things at work that we don't want to do, even when we have a job we've always wanted. That's how I imagine you felt, having to review this game. I understand your pain. Will these freemium crapfests ever end?!
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