Play-Mobile: Two for one

Recently we at TBOD towers have been playing an insane amount of GTA V. Alas there are times when we simply cannot be attached to our consoles and thus cannot become lost in the world of Los Santos, during these moments it is absolutely vital that we keep our thumbs exercised and I’ve been doing so with a couple of real quality titles on my mobile.

I don’t usually like tower defense games but Ironhide studiosKingdomRush” was one of the best in the genre in terms of flash efforts, the mobile port was excellent and the new to android sequel “Frontiers” is an absolute delight.

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It’s pretty much your traditional build, kill, earn, build, upgrade format but with a slight twist in that you can deploy soldiers from your barracks to block the path of your unyielding attackers. The theme of the game is taken pretty much straight out of fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft, fully equipped with Dwarven explosives experts, Elven archers, stout Paladins and crafty Wizards fighting for the side of good against waves of Goblins, Orcs, Lizardmen, Undead, Giants and overgrown insect pests.

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What makes the “Rush” franchise so engaging is it’s upgrade system, not only do you have the opportunity to upgrade your towers as you go but each round see’s you acquire stars which you can use to bolster your troops abilities permanently. There are also hero characters available, these heroes can level up and improve their abilities through a basic talent tree upgrade system, one gripe I have is that despite having paid for the game there are still micro transaction to unlock further hero characters. It’s a massive pain but I can understand the dev’s desire to do so and can’t think of another example where IAP is handled so un-obtrusively.

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This sequel improves drastically on the original in many ways that wont be immediately obvious, this isn’t a bad thing as the format of the first title was pretty much perfect but as you go through the levels you unlock extra tower upgrades, all of which are intelligently designed and oh so satisfying to use.

The second title I have spent some time with this week on my Android is a reworking of an all time favourite of mine, manage your planes, trains and automobiles in the triumphant return of “Transport Tycoon“.

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I have spent way more time than I would care to admit with “Open TTD” and have loved every minute of it, when I was younger I was really into “Railroad tycoon” and “Sim City“, OTTD provided me with even more ways to interact with my city and meticulously plan train routes and station placement. I know it may sound boring to some of you but hey …. I don’t grief any of you for loving “My Little Pony” do I? Each to their own when it comes to entertainment eh?

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So you can pick up an OTTD port on Android, but that’s all it is … a port. As impressive and achievement as that is it’s still somewhat buggy and the touch screen controls are pretty much non-existent. As such a genuine touch screen version is a welcome addition to the Play and iOS library. Add to this the cooperation of the original games developer Chris Sawyer and surely we must be onto a winner? In short yes, the game feels every bit as immersive as it’s PC counterpart which is an impressive feat. The interface has been simplified somewhat but just enough so that it is manageable on a four-inch screen you never feel like your missing out on anything. The game-play is almost identical to what you would expect from a tycoon game and despite the edited touch screen controls being a little tricky to get to grips with you will soon be joining towns with all the efficiency of the Japanese rail system.

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I may be somewhat biased due to my love of this classic game but I cannot fault this port, it has a bunch of great challenges to complete and even the ability to play a sandbox mode. If you love city sims, strategy games or if you just have a penchant for playing with trains then this title is a must have.

To sum up, it’s really nice to see some titles coming to mobile that clearly have a lot of heart and soul poured into them and it’s refreshing that they aren’t hampered by ridiculously over the top price tags (*ahem* Square-enix)  or riddled with in game adds (everything ftp on the Play store) hopefully this will usher in a new era of games that are priced well and play amazingly.

While we are on the subject of Mobile games with pure class…. please, please, please go check out Nicoll Hunt of I fight Bears debut title “Fist of Awesome” , I had a brief love affair with it at eurogamer and am off to go play it to death right now as it’s just come out for both Android and iOS. Review to follow.

You’re welcome.

– eremenko

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Play Mobile: – The Hobbit – Kingdoms of Middle Earth

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If you have been living under the Lonely Mountain for most of the Third Age you may not know that The Hobbit just came out, which for me is one of the most anticipated films of this year, what can I say, I love short dudes with hairy feet and a taste for pipe weed. Anyway the hype and marketing has been building up to a frenzied pitch for a while now and has spawned many different products to keep people hungry for their precious. One of which was this decent mobile game that I think you should give a go, unless of course you are related to or represent the Tolkien estate in which case you probably won’t enjoy it.

Lets kick off by saying as a kid I always liked to play the odd strategy game with Age of Empires taking up more than its fair share of my misspent youth, Civilization was another title but to a much lesser extent (because I didn’t know the cheats) and The Hobbit KOM falls into Civ’s turn based approach. The premise hasn’t really got anything to do with the book or indeed the movie that its name heralds from but is at least set in Middle Earth. The game behobbit KOM viewgins with Gandalf telling you how Elves and Dwarves don’t think all that much of each other, at which point your job is to choose which side your sword swings toward and after an obligatory tutorial you are left to start constructing your city. During the early stages of the game completing the quests is relatively straight forward and will earn you some quick resources but as they get more difficult and your building upgrades get more costly you are going to have to venture out, cave some other poor saps skull in and take all his shit. I found this out quite early as I was that poor sap on a daily basis for the first few days of play, with the bigger boys grabbing my pitiful yet hard gained resources and gold leaving my backside sore. Just as I was about to run crying to mother I found that building a vault at least helps protects a certain amount of resources if not your gold from the grubby mits of your would be rapist, I would recommend getting one of these built pronto.

Building your city up and getting troops together are just two of the many layers to this game, if you are to progress and build the might of your city to higher levels then researching new skills to higher levels is essential – and time-consuming. This particular feature is probably the most rewarding because even though it can take fucking ages to get all the necessary resources I personally feel I have achieved something when my new super pimped troops roll out of the barracks. Of course if you are a particularly impatient you can purchase mithril with real money to help you buy resources, buffs and time deductions to hurry things along. Now I know this kind of pay to win philosophy is in the eyes of some controversial but if there is a demand from players for it and as long as there isn’t any ‘one item to rule them all’ in the store then I personally don’t have a problem with it.

Being a game built for mobile and social networking sight as you might expect player hobbit mapinteraction us heavily emphasized, whether it be in-game with the aforementioned raids on players, joining an alliance or just having a natter within the apps chat room, or going social by tweeting, instagramming and connecting to facebook and telling your friends how utterly addicted you are to KOM. Of course you don’t have to do any of this you can be a lonely hermit if you so wish, however strategically raiding fools is a good way to get some resources as is joining an alliance, which can score you stuff just by asking the bigger boys and interacting with social media wins you mithril, bonus items and more.

Anyway just thought you guys might want to give this a shot as it is honestly the only mobile game that I have played consistently every day for weeks now and it has loads to keep you interested

Its free on the iOS App Store, Google Play, Facebook and I think even Google+.

—–UPDATE—–

This game is purely for mobile devices as someone in the comments has rightly pointed out. I have double checked and Facebook and G+ do in fact just redirect you to the relevant mobile app store to download. Thanks Travis for originally bringing this to my attention and sorry to all of those who wanted to play on your PC or Mac, but seriously if you don’t have a smartphone or a tablet by now then loosen those purse strings a little.

—–UPDATE 2—–

Still playing this and thought I would give a tip or two on keeping hold of your gold and stop getting robbed. I was getting looted quite often in my old position by one player in particular and was getting a little frustrated so I hit them back and took like 2 million gold from him and spent or gave it my alliance, of course I stupidly sent a few gloating in messages to him, this of course made matters worse and the frequency of attacks upped. In the end I used a Radagasts Gift and moved elsewhere. When the attacks picked up again from multiple sources I took a different tact, I just asked nicely for them to stop and you know what? It worked and I have been able to keep my hard earned taxes for longer. Of course if you are more of an aggressive type and like to raid often then this underhanded tactic might be more your style. It only works if you have a mobile device but basically set up another account and get it to a stage that it can at least join an alliance and transport resources and gold, now get raiding and start sending your gold and other I’ll gotten gains straight there. The seven day protection keeps everything you snatched away from vengeful armies, then when you need some coin for your research simply ship over just enough to pay for the lengthy research time. A bit of an exploit but all is fair in love and war between elves and dwarves. You’re Welcome.

– The Quim Ninja