Gameloft and I have had our disagreements in the past, but I can’t fault the company for leading the charge when it comes to creating cool multiplayer worlds for mobile gaming fans. Their Team Fortress 2 clone Blitz Brigade crammed an insane amount of MMOFPS fun into a pocket-sized shooter earlier this year; Total Conquest, the prolific dev house’s latest offering on Google Play, is an attempt to do the same with the burgeoning social strategy genre. Though it isn’t on the same level as the AAA shooter, the game certainly has all the variety – not to mention fun – needed to appeal to a broad cross-section of gamers…here’s my take after a long afternoon of playing.
Holy Romans, Batman!
The story tying Total Conquest’s gameplay together is weak at best (Caesar dies, rival factions attempt to take over the empire in his absence, yadda yadda yadda) but the social gameplay makes it a non-issue: When so much of the fun comes from facing off against other players, you tend to care less about the plot.
Instead, most of the focus in Total Conquest revolves around building stuff and fighting things, in that order. From the single-player campaign to multiplayer skirmishes, your success as a Roman governor requires leadership on the battlefield and a keen eye for city planning. Poor strategy on the battlefield can prove just as fatal as tactical incompetency, especially against online opponents, who will absolutely eat you alive if you jump into the game’s PvP offerings too early.
The construction aspect of the game is one part RTS, one part Farmville. You’ll spend your two main resources, food and gold, constructing buildings that cost one and generate the other – gold is needed to build farms, which generate food, for instance, while gold-generating villas require apples to get going. Other structures, like barracks and temples, provide more specific functions, giving you a greater level of control over your army’s abilities than other games in the genre can offer. Though the freemium model does necessitate the use of timers, things generally feel fair when it comes to the content you get for the (lack of) money. I haven’t spent a dime on the game’s premium tokens yet, nor have I needed to. Given the amount of time I’ve sunk into the game thus far, that’s pretty impressive.
Glory to the Empire
Total Conquest’s warfare takes place in a single-player campaign mode and its multiplayer equivalent. The offensive side of both grew stale for me in short order due to the watered-down gameplay mechanics… like many other social strategy games on the market, you’re not able to control your units outside of choosing what units to use and where to place them on the map, leaving other, more important tactical decisions up to the computer.
That said, the game’s multiplayer makes fighting worthwhile anyway. Attacking other players’ settlements is a lot of fun, and the asynchronous design means you can defend your territory whether you’re actively playing or not – your defensive structures and armies will take care of themselves once you build them. Better yet, the game provides a full replay of every attack on your territory, giving you insight into which defensive strategies work and which ones fail.
The social aspects also shine in Total Conquest, with in-game chat, online leaderboards, and a unique Legion system that allows you to team up with other players on the battlefield once you’ve saved enough resources to construct a Forum. It’s a unique angle and a huge selling point for the game – as with most games, teaming up with your buddies (or, depending on your luck, random strangers) is a heck of a lot more fun than going it solo.
A Worthy Combatant
Titles like Total Conquest make me very excited online multiplayer’s place in the future of mobile gaming. Even without the social stuff, however, this is a very good (if not great) strategy title with a multifaceted approach to gameplay sure to suck in all kinds of Android gaming fans. It also manages to implement freemium features without being an outright wallet grab – something I’d never have expected from the company that turned Tony Stark into a petty thief. The lukewarm combat may hamper its overall replay value, but there’s a lot of good stuff to check out here before things get boring. Give it a download and see for yourself if you don’t believe me… I’m off to raid some poor sap’s village before he knows what hit him.