Rivals At War
The card-battling genre may have made a big impact on the App Store over the last 12 months or so, but there's no denying that the bulk of these games are rather clunky experiences - static HTML screens of pretty, yet lifeless artwork that display one after another as you tinker with deck loadouts while rolling a virtual dice endlessly.
And so the most startling thing about Rivals at War is just how shockingly high the production values of the game. It's a military themed game, with each of your cards representing a soldier of a particular flavor - heavy infantry units, snipers, medics and so on.
Squad formed, every battle you take part in with other players is told from the point of view of an exceptionally slick action cinematic set in a multitude of battlefields. The cameras follow gunnery units as they leap over barricades, move into firing positions and tackle firefights. It's remarkable stuff, although it's hard to tell how much is pre-scripted rather than free-flowing based on your decks.
Each battlefield has capture objectives associated with it, and the strongest team who manages to hold onto the most territory will emerge victorious with coin rewards at the exit screen. These coins not only unlock new soldier cards, but also special tactic cards which can be slotted in before heading into combat. These might allow your units to move faster on the battlefield, or perform better on higher ground.
The things is, with all of the premium currencies, premium deck packs, and tactics cards which expire on use, you can't help feeling that there's more pay-to-win than strategy in this particular deck game. It's fun to upgrade your cards, but strategy feels a little thin on the ground - in the multi-round campaigns, we won the vast vast majority of our battles without making any changes to our loadout whatsoever.
We certainly had fun playing Rivals At War, and you really should see the battleground action for yourself to understand how short-changed mobile deck-building gamers have been over the last year or so. Whether it has enough meat to sustain itself in the long-term, is something that only time will tell.
What's Hot:Incredible production values and a cut above the average deck-building game.
What's Not:We felt a big lack of control over our strategic success against the competition. Strong pay-to-win elements.