Can clan-based combat make this empire game stand out from the pack?
Here is what you'll do most of the time in Clash of Clans: spend resources on buildings, so that you can acquire more resources to spend on better buildings, so that some of these improved buildings produce stronger soldiers. You can even build better resource collectors, so the resource system that inhibits your expansion and enjoyment of the game can itself be upgraded and made marginally less irritating.
Clash of Clans certainly didn't invent this particular black hole of mobile gaming, but by turning up to the party late, when the assembled guests have already descended into a money-grabbing fistfight, it inevitably picks up just a little more of the flak. The novelty hasn't just worn off this particular style of greedy gaming, it's shriveled up and condensed itself into an infinitely dense singularity of self-loathing.
Thankfully, there's a little more to the game, and although with just one quick paragraph you know exactly what you're going to be getting up to for much of your time in the game, it has its share of positive points. I don't want to be accused of being cruel and cantankerous after all, picking on a game that just happened to come along at the wrong time.
So, what is there on the plus side? Well, a combat system allows you to build an increasingly powerful barracks so you can send warriors into enemy territory. You'll also need to defend your town with cannons, walls and so on. It's an idea we've seen before, but is executed very nicely in Clash of Clans, even if it is an essentially hands-off experience.
Head to the battlefield, spam the screen with your loyal forces and watch them shoot from afar, or chop away at enemy buildings so that they can then bring home some juicy resource points for you. It provides some welcome relief from the typically limited empire building you'll find in this and other similar games.
As well as embarking on a campaign of pillaging across the single-player mode, you can also jump into an online battle and fight real people, although it's hard to shake the nagging feeling that you're taking on the might of the world's wallets, rather than demonstrating any tactical prowess on your part. You can also team up with other players to do co-op battle against the world if that's your thing.
It's by no means an unattractive game, and while animations are rather limited, there's some very nice styling on both the architecture and the people as they potter around, using your hard-earned resources to upgrade buildings and toil the land. Here, the game does well, and Clash of Clans is no better or worse than any number of empire games we've played recently.
This is a game that follows in the footsteps of no small number of titles that have made feverish demands on our wallets in exchange for just a slightly thicker slice of the gameplay. It's possible you have an unending appetite for these micromanagement titles, in which case we recommend getting heartily stuck into Supercell's latest game. While Clash of Clans brings something new to accompany its competent but unexceptional empire gameplay, for most of us it'll be a case of too little, too late.
What's Hot: Something a little different in the empire-building genre, with competent production values and a fresh combat angle.
What's Not: A me-too approach to the dominant, building management content.