Kingdom Conquest 2
You might want to grab a cup of tea and strap yourselves in when you get back - this is going to be a long one. It's worth bearing with us though, because while at first glance Kingdom Conquest 2 might appear to be just another empire-building mobile game, there's a good deal more than meets the eye to this particular strategy title.
It's true that you'll start off with the familiar basics of the genre - you'll need to upgrade your initially small settlement with additional resource gathering buildings that enable further expansion. You'll then have to level them up to make them more efficient, and in doing so ensure you maintain a steady balance between income and expenditure. It's everything you've played before in the genre, in other words.
But in building on top of this core gameplay, Sega has very much taken an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to development, and while the end result may seem a little bloated, it also ensures that there's a huge amount of content to enjoy in this free game, where familiar timers dictate expansion progress.
For a start, and in expanding your empire, you'll need to dominate surrounding lands using small armies comprised of Commanders and monster troops. The former are acquired by capturing the land around your settlement that they live in, while the latter are earned through combat or via the store front. While their combat is strictly automated, you can choose tactical formations for their assaults, and a battle report provided after victory or defeat helps you plan future assaults more effectively.
That global conflict they take part in is accessed through a map screen where you - and other players on your realm - slowly advance and make claims on the surrounding lands. Each piece of land has a level associated with it, and it pays to choose your targets carefully when sending your Commanders into battle. If you fancy taking on the territory of other players, you'd be wise to form an Alliance and coordinate your efforts before attempting to dominate the lands.
If you think that all of this sounds interesting but a little too hands-off for your liking, the icing on the cake comes in the form of fully 3D dungeon crawls that you can take part in alone or with other players. Here, your initial choice of character archetype (picked from a selection of mages, melee fighters and support classes) comes into play, as you clear dungeon floors of the undead and battle end-dungeon bosses in exchange for powerful weapons and equipment.
We could go into great detail about the depth of advancement available for both commanders, monsters and your own character, but it would fast become something of a box-ticking exercise. Suffice to say that for every timer that's ticking in the game, there's another waiting to be started, and another dungeon to get stuck into. Those who really must get ahead of this free game can dip into the cash store for an enhancement currency - in truth, we suspect the average gamer will have more trouble keeping up with the flood of content that the game throws at you for free.
Taking all of this into account we find it hard not to wholeheartedly recommend the game, although as it's online-only you may find navigation between screens a little frustrating. The servers can be a little sluggish, resulting in screen-tapping confusion as the game refreshes the world and your actions within it. You'll need to excercise a little patience for now, and hopefully this is something the publishers can improve upon as the game evolves.
While certain elements of Kingdom Conquest 2 may be stronger than others, combined they result in one of the most intriguing strategy games to be released on the App Store. It's packed full of content, offers plenty of variety in its gameplay, and the real story of the game - the impact of player interactions - is something we'll only discover in time.
Kingdom Conquest 2 is free to download but in-app purchases are available in the form of a currency called CP. If wish you to get more CP for Kingdom Conquest 2, the costs are as follows: 100 CP ($0.99), 350 CP ($2.99), 660 CP ($4.99), 1200 CP ($8.99), 3800 CP ($25.99), 6500 CP ($43.99).
What's Hot:A huge variety of single-player and multiplayer content, plenty of it for absolutely nothing, and a slickly designed strategy game overall.
What's Not:Server performance is a little slow at launch, and while the game is pretty it's not spectacularly so.