A follow up to The Wars, a mobile strategy game no one has ever heard of, The Wars 2: Evolution premiered to a fanfare of crickets. I had never heard of either game when I looked them up, but I didn’t let that cloud my judgment. Some games are sleeper hits, titles little-touted but nonetheless fun. Other games are fundamentally flawed. The Wars 2 is neither of these. Not quite.
Hardcore players will likely have seen a game like this before and may want to start on the higher end of the nine difficulty levels. The Wars 2 starts off as the typical real-time strategy: base versus base. The objective is to destroy the enemy base while protecting your own. Players protect their base with upgrades, four soldier types and a special attack. The Wars 2‘s differentiating factor is the “evolution” referred to in the title. Leveling-up evolves the base from a cave that sends out cavemen with a pterodactyl special to a villa that sends out Romans watched over by Zeus and his lightning special, and beyond. As centurions crush cavemen, so centurions are crushed by armored knights, the knights by conquistadores, and so on, each level doing more damage than the last. I let my enemy stay alive long enough to play though modern warfare to future perfection just to see the next animations.
The art is bright and colorful, and even the backgrounds change over time. Watching these little men trot across the screen to annihilate each other can be amusing, if not hardcore hilarious, but thankfully there is a speed adjustment if players want to hurry things up a bit.
Players earn gold and experience from killing enemies and hitting the enemy base. Coins are used for buying soldiers and base upgrades, so what you spend on is the key to success. Of course, there is always the option to buy coin from the play store for real money. The offer was tempting, if just so I could build the ultimate base. Instead I fell back on the special attack option, the one offense that costs no coin. Spending on both soldiers and base improvements is almost impossible without buying coin.
Fortunately it’s possible to win without spending a dime, you just have to do it fast. The free version gives one level-up before the player runs into the pay-wall, so essentially cavemen and Romans. At that point, you can’t level up without paying. If players haven’t won before their opponent makes the leap from the Centurion to Medieval Times, they have to buy the game to have a hope of winning.
That $1.99 might not break the bank, but this goes against the principles of quality mobile gaming. With so many free options available, a game has to excel in some way to get players to dig a dollar out of their Google Wallets. Ultimately, The Wars hasn’t evolved enough to justify the payment.
Since this is a strategy game, the problem with the logic involved in beating The Wars 2 is more of a concern than the paywall. The way the game is constructed seems to agree with Conan’s barbarian philosophy that it is best to “crush your enemies,” and “see them driven before you.” In this case, that means the best offense is also the best defense. If players follow this advice, they will never see mankind completely evolve in The Wars 2. Here is where the difficulty levels come in. As the game gets harder, play is likely to move further into the future. Unfortunately, the fact that players are rewarded for giving their enemies a swift death pretty much negates the fun of watching the world change.
DeluxeWare got the basics right. The Wars 2: Evolution is not a bad game, but it’s not a sleeper hit, either. This might be considered an introduction to hardcore. After playing The Wars 2, players could move on to Swords and Soldiers, a base vs. base with the added depth of tower defense and alternate paths. Let’s hope DeluxeWare designs the next Wars game in such a way that those playing to win will be able to get the satisfaction of seeing the final animations.
There are too many tower defense games available for this to be worth $1.99. There is little point in buying a game that players are supposed to defeat so quickly they won’t see the end animations.