I’m an old school real-time strategy fan from way back. That’s partly because my computer was always my only game console, and it sucked–we’re talking Dell prefab laptops for days, here. Since I could only run strategy games, I grew to love them. I still play Age of Mythology to this day. So the current surge in RTS interest from the casual set made me happy. That is, until I realized that the surge was all based on Clash of Clans and other freemium ripoffs like it. One of the worst offenders (not to mention blatant Clash clones) is the Greed for Glory series, a franchise that, if nothing else, lives up to the first part of its name, if not the second.
Immediately out of the gate, RTS fans will need to come to terms with Greed for Glory‘s total lack of plot. Despite being a game about some kind of grand war between countless kingdoms, there is no explanation whatsoever for why you are raiding and looting your fellow man. The only goal is to build your town as large as it can be, while maintaining a giant army powerful enough to raid more heavily fortified strongholds. This is accomplished by gathering gold and iron, which are clearly the only necessary resources for a thousand-year empire.
As it turns out, other players aren’t even your most dangerous enemies in Greed for Glory. The developers are more than evil enough to take care of that. Much like other reprehensible pay to win freemiums, you are allotted two “builders” during the tutorial. These dudes with hammers are the only people capable of constructing anything ever. As usual for a free game, you can spend diamonds to speed up construction and upgrades. You can also use them to buy an additional builder. Most initial buildings and upgrades cost 2-4 diamonds to finish instantly, while an extra builder will run you 600. Diamonds are in-app purchases and can be bought in packs from 500 to 14,000 ($5-100). Thus, a builder will run you about $6 (which, it’s worth noting, is 2/3rds the cost of the entire mobile edition of Baldur’s Gate).
What this means, simply, is that unless you get invested enough in this flat, plotless “strategy” game to buy more diamonds with real money, you can only build two things at a time. Well, three if you count your army. Once you have a decent number of soldiers, you can start playing the Greed for Glory Campaign Mode, which just involves attacking bigger and bigger computer-controlled towns. You can loot these towns for resources–including small amounts of diamonds, which is kind of nice.
The diamonds and iron you get will sometimes be enough to cover the cost of retraining your army, but not usually. That’s because combat in Greed for Glory is a horrendous system designed to drain your resources and force you into buying diamonds. First, you need to deploy your army one unit at a time, which is ludicrous when you get into higher levels. Every unit you deploy is gone forever at the end of combat, whether or not they were actually killed. “A wizard saved is a wizard earned,” cautions an in-game loading screen, reminding players that this game is less a fantasy combat game than a resource management trainer with pretty graphics. Oh, and did I mention that while the computer can adapt its defensive strategy to counter your attacks, you have no control over your own troop movements? That’s right! I hope you’re ready to watch scores of your soldiers die from ballista bolts while they uselessly attack a random house, because you’ll be seeing a lot of that.
I should pause for a moment here and address a point I made briefly in the last paragraph. Yes, Greed for Glory is pretty. Zoomed out, it looks quite detailed, and even at full zoom, the animation is smooth and crisp. You can get any view of your town you want by pinching and rotating the screen, which isn’t something I can say for every game like this. When it comes to visuals, Greed for Glory actually distinguishes itself from its competitors.
Unfortunately, that nice feeling you get from looking at the game is dispelled as soon as you actually play it. When taken all together, all the frustrating and slow aspects of Greed for Glory add up into a messy system that has clearly been designed to force every player to buy thousands of diamonds a month if they want to do more than three things every couple of hours. This will end up running you a solid $20-30 a month, at which point you may well ask yourself “why am I not just playing World of Warcraft right now?” The diamond system is more than just an artificial divide between free players and premium ones–it’s an enforced one. Want more resources? Buy VIP access! You’ll get bonus loot from raids and your own private chat room to chortle at the free-to-play peons!
We’ve been angry about freemium scams at Hardcore Droid for a while, but now it’s time that we got serious. In this case, “serious” means warning our beloved readers about any game that is explicitly designed to be exclusionary and which prevents players from actually doing anything unless they pay for the privilege to do so–again, and again, and again, ad infinitum. When you get down to it, it’s a wonder that anyone bothers with free strategy titles on the Play Store when there are scores of better ones on the paid list. Greed for Glory, like just about every free strategy game we’ve played on Android, is a perpetual leech. That’s not the kind of game I wanted to play back in my Dell days, it’s not a game that will keep the mobile gaming industry healthy, and it’s not a game that’s enjoyable for more than five minutes out of a two-hour period.
But hey, it does look kinda nice.
Is it Hardcore?
More like half-assed.
If this is the future of Android strategy gaming, I’m buying an iPhone.