If the whole world was at war, how well would you be able to defend your home? And by home, I really mean exactly where you live right now. Developer Red Robot Labs lets you put it to the test with its new MMORTS game, Friendly Fire!
To start off, Friendly Fire! makes you build a home base right where you live. The game will use your GPS coordinates to track down your location and show you the Google Map of your block. Choose it (or any other area you fancy) and that will be converted into a Friendly Fire! version of a map, where all the roads stay intact and all the other areas turn into grass for you to build upon. It’s really quite cool and because I was protecting my actual home, it drew me into the game more than a regular RTS usually does.
Once you have your home base, it’s time to build. You will need a factory, which lets you build tanks and other artillery that you can use in war and to defend your base. You will also need garrisons to house those men. Then there’s the need for fuel, so you better start setting up an oil rig immediately, along with a container to store the oil you harvest. Of course, tanks require machinery so you will need metal and gears, so set up a mine for that too.
Every item you set up requires time to finish building. You can let it take its course or spend a few gems to speed up the process. The down side is that gems are limited; but if you don’t spend them, you have to patiently wait the whole time needed for building anything (sometimes up to 5 minutes) because there’s nothing else you can do in the meanwhile.
Defend and Attack
Along with setting up the base, you should also set up your defences so that you can thwart attacks by enemy forces. You can put up land mines, turrets, road blocks, howitzers and miniguns — each requiring some amount of metal, oil or gems.
Similarly, apart from your factory, you can set up research labs and power labs to come up with better and more powerful weaponry at your disposal. The factory itself gives you the option to build four types of weapons — tanks, scouts, artillery and airstrikes. Choose how many of each you want out of the 10 slots and spend the oil needed to build them.
Once you have your army and defences ready, it’s time to start attacking. You can see a whole map of the world to find online players anywhere, be it in your country or across oceans. Fly where you need to and you will be given one minute to scout the area and then 2 minutes to destroy the whole base. Deploy your troops at some of the designated points and they will make their way to the base to unleash mayhem. You can command any of your men to go to a certain place by tapping and drawing a route for them. Destroy the whole base in the given time and you will earn bonus points.
If you get attacked, you get the chance to see how the other player thwarted your defences, and he or she is immediately marked as a “rival”. Never forget those who wronged you and give back twice as hard to earn a revenge bonus!
Global rankings will let you know how you are faring, as well as which countries as a whole are on top. The MMO part of the game is quite cool and gets you involved with some patriotic fervour.
Those Damn Gems
The biggest problem with the game, though, are the gems. Gems let you speed up the game and gems let you buy certain aspects without which you can’t possibly survive as you level up. However, I didn’t come across any mechanism by which I could earn gems and the only route seemed to be buying them through the store.
This in-app purchase system for what is a crucial element of the game just doesn’t work for me. I’m going to keep needing these gems so it’s not like it’s going to be a one-time purchase. So after I spent all my gems, there really was no incentive for me to keep playing the game because everything took just so long to finish, I got bored of it.
Friendly Fire! has gorgeous graphics and great gameplay, which makes it a lot of fun to play. The incorporation of the ‘home base’ using your GPS and the nation vs nation elements, as well as “rivalries”, are quite cool and keep you hooked.
But the gems are a problem. I understand that the developers need to make money for their hard work, but this roadblock pretty much stops those looking to play Friendly Fire! for free. If you aren’t willing to dole out the cash, it’s not worth your time from the start.