Empire Earth Mobile
Empire Earth Mobile is deep, but is that how mobile games should be? We take a look...
Modojo has spent a lot of time discussing the nature of mobile gaming. Or at least what mobile gaming should be. I myself have written numerous opinion pieces explaining why mobile games should be casual, easy-to-pick-up titles that intentionally avoid the complexities found in console or PC releases.
But rules like that are made to be broken, right? Empire Earth Mobile is a deep, strategic experience that slower-paced, thinking gamers are more likely to enjoy. A couple of smart design decisions allow it to work on handsets extremely well. The first is that the experience is completely interruptable. It's true that some missions will take a while to complete, but thanks to a save-anytime feature I found myself playing a few quick turns, saving, and sometimes coming back to the mission days later.
The second is that the genre's traditionally complex controls have been streamlined for one-handed play. All controls are done with the central buttons, without the keypad getting involved. The directional buttons move a cursor around the semi-overhead map, and the central button is used to select units or buildings. From there left and right navigate through the options available - attack, upgrade, move, etc.
The gameplay itself doesn't break any new ground, but it covers the existing well-worn strategic ground more than competently. Battles can take place in one of four eras, ranging from the stone age where you battle with club-wielding cavemen up to the "nano age," which features all the expected futuristic units and buildings. Gamers move units across the grid-style map, earn resources based on the number of buildings they control, spend those resources on upgrades or more units... it all plays out exactly how strategy gamers would expect.
The game's biggest problem is its poor AI. In later campaign missions levels begin with you at such a disadvantage it will seem impossible to win. The poor strategic choices the AI will make repeatedly allowed me to turn the tide of the battle time after time, however. The AI seems especially fond of not finishing off units it has almost killed, instead attacking whichever of your units has the most health.
The game's other problem is simply that it runs too slow. Units move too slowly. Their attack animations are slow. Everything is too slow. I appreciate that strategy games are slow-paced anyway, but VUG Mobile should consider implementing an animation skipping option in the sequel.
Neither issue is a dealbreaker, though. Empire Earth Mobile is an excellent combination of depth and ease of play, and is an excellent way to round out a gamers' mobile library. There's room for improvement, but this initial effort is still a very compelling package.
What's Hot: Lengthy Campaign. Deep gameplay.
What's Not: Game runs too slowly. AI seems a bit too dumb.