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Noblemen: 1896 review - A cover shooter without enough cover, shooting, or fun

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

No bull

Product: Noblemen: 1896 | Publisher: Foursaken Media | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
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You probably went through a mixture of different feelings when you heard about Noblemen: 1896. It's a cover shooter for mobile, so I expect your thought process went something like this.

First you sort of sighed, because the cover shooter is a genre that, traditionally, hasn't really worked that well on touchscreens. Then you probably felt a surge of hope - maybe this would be the game that got things right. Maybe this would be our Gears of War.

Well, both of those reactions were wrong. This isn't our GoW. And it's worth a lot more than a sigh. It's a muddled, ugly, clunky mess of a game that barely manages to get a single thing working the way it should.

No bell, men

The game sees you controlling one of the titular noblemen. You're running into battle in some steampunk alt-history of the American civil war. You've got an army at your back, and you're trying to wipe out your foes.

But there's also a tactical view that you play through before you get to the scraps. Here you're resupplying your men, capturing nodes, and trying to charge up a massive cannon in order to destroy your enemy's base.

If that sounds a little schizophrenic, it's because it is. After some poking on the screen you get to run into battle. But rather than being a cathartic release of violence, it's more like a stumble through a muddy field.

The controls work reasonably well, but there's no weight to anything here. Your shoots might be connecting, they might not be. The battlefields feel vast and empty, and the cover system is far from robust enough to enjoy.

More often than not you're taking potshots at groups of men from a long way away. And when you've shot them enough they'll sort of waddle away, with your own army waddling after them. There's altogether too much waddling in this game.

Sometimes you can choose to rush into melee scraps instead of shooting. These are pretty much automatic, apart from the occasional button that flashes on screen. Tap that to block or throw out a heavy attack.

Nothing here really works. The strategy elements are confusing, the base-building bits feel tacked on, and the main draw of the game, the cover shooting, feels like a wander around a field with the odd duck behind a log.

I've got stuck on scenery more than once in my playthrough. Other times I've legged it across the battlefield only for pretty much everyone else to have buggered off and died by the time I got close to them.

Some bell, men

In the end, Noblemen: 1896 tries to be too many things, and fails to actually be any of them. It's cumbersome, often confusing, and where it should make you feel like you're deep in the heart of a war, you usually feel like you're just pottering about trying to find someone to murder.

Sure, it's ambitious, and sure it tries to do something different with a genre that hasn't seen a smash hit on mobile. But you can't get by on hopes and dreams alone, and when it comes down to the nitty gritty, it's far too muddy to recommend.
Noblemen: 1896 review - A cover shooter without enough cover, shooting, or fun
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 31 August 2017
Noblemen: 1896 tries its hand at something different, but in the end it's too muddled and clunky to enjoy
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