Reviews

City Conquest Review

Is this hybrid Tower Defense and RTS the best of both worlds?

In this gaming landscape filled with Modern Soldiers, Future Warriors, and other such “highly tactical” outings, most shooting games haven’t evolved from blasting the crap out of everything in your vision. There are your Ghost Recons and Rainbow Sixes, but even those have started to devolve into modern mega-shooters. Strategy and tactics games suffer a similar fate, with most tower defense games revolving around building as many big things as one can. When there are tactical elements to tower defense games, they typically function closer to puzzles with one or two “right” solutions. Real time strategy games do a better job of introducing actual tactical choice, but again many fall prey to medieval style battles in which hundreds of forces are smashed into each other on the battlefield.

City Conquest presents itself as a hybrid RTS and Tower Defense game, and I had hoped that the introduction of real-time offensive strategy would add that thinking element that tower defense often lacks. City Conquest has been built from the ground up for the iPad, and it is in this simplification that it may have fumbled.

Your typical tower defense turn involves building and upgrading new towers and then watching enemies attempt to invade your base. Some tower defense games allow you to create paths with your towers, routing enemies through a dangerous maze. City Conquest does this, and also allows players to create their own armies to send out against a foe that is also building towers. This is handled during a second turn, there is an ebb and flow to offense and defense in City Conquest.  Both players are placed in the same battlefield, and must build refineries and skyscrapers to expand their territory and increase their resources. Placing both offensive and defensive units, along with the territory control element had me excited at the outset of City Conquest.

There is room for tactical thought in City Conquest. Where you build your towers, which towers you build, and what offensive units you build to counter your enemies’ towers are all important. The game also has a hotseat multiplayer mode, which is great for playing against a friend in the same room. The social elements add to the game, but don’t quite save it from the problems with late game play.

The early game in City Conquest feels filled with opportunity. It is easy to strike at your opponent, even with the limited resources you have. Eventually, though, you will need to build defenses of your own, expand your territory, and accrue more resources. Playing against an AI essentially forces a player to pursue the maximum possible output of both defense and offense. There isn’t room to just build out offensive units, because they can’t attack enemy units as they essentially only exist during your offensive turn. The AI will always push against the player with basic units in the early game, and will continually increase their output of firepower, all while building a perfect little maze for your forces to die in. The continued ramping of both defense and offense leads to those medieval style battles, in which I send my forces to crash against the enemy’s castle walls, and they do the same once their turn comes. Oversimplification comes into play in that I can’t choose how to route my forces, the game’s AI automatically determines the route of your soldiers, and while it will do some optimization to best avoid enemy towers, eventually you will find yourself running across a large stretch of enemy towers that could have been avoided with some more intelligence.

I don’t know how to fix this part of the game, as it is essential to maintain the tower defense aspect. You are essentially playing two dueling tower defense games, in which you have a nice array of cool unit types to throw into the other player’s tower defense game. I would have gotten more out of certain defensive or cloaking units had I been able to micromanage their routing. I am curious if the developer had experimented with the player issuing routes to units in a pause-and-move style combat. Perhaps that, combined with destructible buildings would have added some spice, but then most of the tower defense maze like gameplay is gone, and the play control is complicated.

City Conquest is an interesting hybrid, one that feels like it could have used a little less tower defense in the mix. I do like how the game is structured into turns. It controls well, and the visuals look like a souped  up ‘Warfare Incorporated.’ Tower types are interesting, the most unique of which is the reflector and laser combination. There is a lot of room for improvement in City Conquest, but I feel that it is currently too tied down to the simplifications needed to make it work in real time on the iPad.

Final Score: 

good

City Conquest is available as a Universal app that is free to try and $4.99 to unlock

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