Your troops have arrived just outside of the enemy’s gates, and luckily only one foot soldier has paid any notice. Taking him down is like stealing candy from a baby, but these barricades are another matter. A coordinated attack takes down the fences and your platoon pours through the new opening – straight into the heart of the enemy base. A steady stream of fire makes easy work of a fuel depot and steel plant, but as your army rallies around the enemy HQ, tanks suddenly appear out of the dust and debris. This is going to be a long fight…
Enemy Lines is a pseudo RTS (real-time strategy) that falls somewhere between the likes of Command & Conquer – the PC classic – and the Zynga Facebook title, Empires & Allies. You’re granted a square plot of land on which to establish your base, and a single MCV to carry out your build and upgrade tasks. In the beginning, an assistant directs you along the path to get your first fuel depot, steel plant, and barracks constructed. You’ll also be granted temporary immunity to other players’ attacks via a “shield” protecting your base. The goal of this game is simply to expand and conquer.
Build And… Wait
Following the style of Empires & Allies, you’ll plop down your first fuel depot and spend a bit of gold to get it up and running. Everything you build runs on a timer, and unless you have enough gold you’ll be twiddling your thumbs in short-order. Given the small amount of gold you start with, you’ll be able to set up a couple factories and train a few soldiers for your first attack. As time passes, your factories and refineries will continuously generate resources to add to your pools. However, the max amount of resources you can store at any given time is governed by the number of plants you’ve constructed. This creates a vicious “build-and-wait” cycle as you find yourself needing more resources than you can store to build new storage refineries. What’s more, your MCV can only be assigned to one project at a time – more waiting.
So, to remedy the 15min+ of waiting between projects you have two choices – spend money to buy gold for a new MCV or embark on your conquest. Selecting the “Attack” option will give you the option of attacking other players’ bases via multiplayer, or running the single-player campaign; both of which net you experience and resources. Unfortunately, even if you’re victorious in these battles you’ll rarely have enough storage capacity to hold the resources you’ll gain.
The battles themselves are short and un-engaging. You drop your entire army anywhere outside of the enemy’s square plot of land – hopefully out of range of guard towers. Choosing a nearby structure is as simple as tapping a target, and your units begin to close-in. Once within range, your units will start shooting and eventually destroy the target. Unlike Command & Conquer, combat is very fast paced and you don’t really feel the “punch” of units exchanging fire. While the map, structure, and individual unit graphics are attractively rendered, your bullets are basic “blobs” with no sound effects to accompany. Granted, Enemy Lines follows a similar mechanic of most RTS titles – each unit type holds advantages and disadvantages vs. other unit types – you don’t really feel the weight of specialties on the battlefield. All of your units travel as a group, making precise targeting somewhat of a moot-point. You are given the option of an “auto-attack”, but the implementation is sloppy at best; units will scatter and attack different target seemingly at their own whim.
Healthcare Is Expensive!
A romp around an enemy’s base takes no more than 5min and feels more like operating a drone than being down in the midst of combat. Strategy is mostly an after-thought relegated to which types of units you train vs. decisions made on the ground. When all is said and done, you gain some resources (that you likely can’t store) and are given the opportunity to heal your units… for gold. Assuming you don’t have enough gold to repair all your units (it’s true, you can’t repair individual units), they’ll come back home mostly worthless. Thankfully, you can select individual units within your base and sell them to free up resources to build more. If you want to sell your damaged units, however, there is no simple “overview” interface that gives you a picture of the entire army. This also makes it difficult to get an idea of your over-all army strength. Scattered around your new base, you’ll also find broken-down structures, rubble, and dead trees that you can clear for a few resource points and extra space for buildings. Sadly, such base maintenance also requires the attention of your MCV – the bottleneck of your entire production.
No Real Impact
Once your shield comes down (end of newbie period), you’ll start getting attacked by other players. Thankfully, such attacks have relatively little effect on you. Attacking another player’s base nets you resources, but it seems that their base stays largely in-tact once they log back into the game. Additionally, if you feel somewhat hamstrung by the limitations of your own measly army you can join alliances via multiplayer to gang-up on unsuspecting bases. A brief visit in the in-game chat room revealed players anxious to jump into an alliance and smack-talking about other players; nothing too surprising.
Enemy Lines felt to me like a half-assed attempt at a solid RTS – the graphics are decent enough, but the lack of feeling connected/engaged in combat combined with being hamstrung by arbitrary “freemium” time limits put in place to garner your hard-earned cash made the game feel mostly like a gimmick. Don’t expect to get very far at all within the first few days of playing unless you’re okay checking-in every 20min to play for another 3min of play time. Enemy Lines just didn’t have much appeal to me, so I give it an official “meh” rating. You might as well go play Empires & Allies on Facebook and get a bit more bang for your buck.