These days, we can enjoy almost any kind of game on our smartphone devices — whether it’s a casual platformer, or a competitive first-person shooter. This may be all fine and dandy, but it has left one of my more favoured genres in the dust — strategy games!
Armed! is a bold title new title in this genre, one which certainly has its sights set on defining itself as the Windows Phone strategy outing. Does it succeed? Sort of. Read on for the breakdown.
Strategy games are somewhat difficult to pull off on a mobile platform since most happen in real time. Due to this, most strategy games we see in our pockets are of the turn-based variety, of which there is certainly no abundance nor shortage.
However, most of these so-called TBS games seem to lack a certain kick that makes them truly great, and instead are relegated to mediocrity. From a quick look, Armed seems to have all the right ingredients for a great game.
Armed! is, first and foremost, a game about fighting robots; you are placed in command of a cybernetic army of three-legged tanks, minuscule drones, and giant stomping mechs, all arrayed on a diverse, hexagon-constituted battlefield. Of course these automatons aren’t just handed to you on a plate, this is a game about building your forces as well as sending them to be reduced to scrap.
Controlling resource nodes on the various, vibrant maps will grant you credits, with which you can amass various structures and troops, as well as research technologies to galvanise your forces with. The game is not a turn-based fare in the traditional sense; turns are planned, then executed simultaneously by both sides after planning is finished.
An in-depth tech tree is also presented, allowing you to bolster your forces with forcefields, missile launchers, and eventually allowing you to unlock massive, crushing mechs. It’s safe to say that calling this a shallow game would be a big mistake, one that would not do justice to the array of features that is presented.
In this department, Armed! makes a strong achievement; strategy in the game is made a very strong factor, where making the right decisions, denying your enemy resources, and being able to plan ahead is the key to success.
Online multiplayer also leads to good competitive fun, if you fancy your wit against a human opponent. This formula should easily win over fans of the strategy genre, and will appeal to fans of games such as Starcraft and Command & Conquer.
Hex and the City
Of course, all of this strategy wouldn’t be anything without is conducted with astounding style; you will conduct your conflicts in vibrant jungles, scorching volcanoes, and icy tundras.
All of these environments look absolutely fantastic!
All of these environments look absolutely fantastic, thanks to a brilliant 3d engine, making Armed! an achievement both in formula and in presentation, not to mention making a great demonstration of Windows Phone’s capabilities.
The artistic direction of the game also has something to be said for it; the architectural concepts of Armed!’s various structures are intriguing to say the least — headquarters buildings tower like magnificent cyberpunk citadels, whilst resource harvesting nodes spin with a hypnotising halcyon glow.
Combat is an exciting affair
The robotic stars of the action are not neglected either. We are treated to the strange crawls quirky insectoid tanks and artillery, whilst sleek fighter jets zip about the sky, and gargantuan mechas stomp around the battlefield in almost comic fashion.
Combat is an exciting affair, with the sky lighting up with the flashes and glows of laser bolts and missiles streaking about the battlefield. If Armed!’s only objective was to make a strong artistic impression, then it has certainly succeeded with leaps and bounds.
With the tirade of praise above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Armed! is a title without flaw or blight, that it has firmly serenaded into a well-earned position as top dog of the mobile strategy scene. Unfortunately this is not the case; as much as this game has going for it, there are a few issues that almost brings an otherwise brilliant title crashing down.
Armed!’s first shortcoming is unfortunately rather an ironic one, as it is in the game’s strategy and gameplay makeup that it suffers a critical flaw. The flaw in question is a gaping monotony and consequential dullness in gameplay, brought on by there only being one playable ‘race’ in the game.
Armed! is a title which would have benefited immensely from multiple distinct factions or races to add variety to what is, in their absence, a flat and monotonous matchup. This is a downfall partially remedied by the diverse technology tree, which is varied enough to add some flavour to games, unfortunately this cannot be said for the unit or building lineup, which just isn’t given a good enough variety to compensate for the lack of faction variety.
Editor’s note: As an avid Starcraft player, I had quite a bit of fun with just the Terrans in SC2.
The second drawback lies in the fact that besides a short tutorial, Armed! has absolutely no campaign to speak of, meaning you are relegated to playing against the computer on the same, small variety of maps. A campaign for a game like this would have been a killer feature, one without which the game feels somewhat empty, dare I say incomplete.
Armed! presents to us quite the mixed bag; on one hand we have undoubtedly killer presentation and potentially deep strategy, but heavy monotony and a lack of finish on the other.
As much as I hate to be the one to kill expectations, this game is not quite the definitive smartphone strategy we’ve been waiting for, although it’s a great game in itself.
It’s slick presentation and deep strategy make Armed! a strong recommendation for both strategy fans and casual players alike.