Developer: Gameloft
Price: Free
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0472When films are nearing release, who do movie studios turn to for developing licensed iOS cross-promotional tie-in games? Gameloft. Somehow the developer manages to churn out large quantities of these titles every year, including the upcoming digital companion to Blue Sky’s new flick, Epic. Can this kingdom builder live up to the implications of the movie’s grandiose name, or is this just another chance to cash in on the hype?

There is probably no better way to become familiar with a film’s universe than in game form. In the case of Epic, the kingdom building genre lends itself well to helping establish an instant tie between core characters and the player. Many of the stars are active participants as early as the tutorial, helping to ease the audience into the title’s rather predictable mechanics. When in the city mode there are constantly goals and objectives that are waiting to be attained, which help direct the overall gameplay progression.

Players will constantly be assigned tasks like creating or training troops that are then used in the game’s quasi turn-based combat. The player has very little direct influence over the action, aside from selecting a unit configuration, healing injured soldiers and gathering the materials dropped by dead adversaries. There are also occasional touch events that happen randomly throughout the battle, where a crosshair appears over a specific enemy. If reacted to quickly, a critical hit is administered, effectively helping to curb the overall length of the conflict.

IMG_0468Of the two main components of Epic, the city building piece seems to be far more fully realized than the combat. Upgrades to soldier units and facilities pay dividends both on and off the battlefield. Plus the many different units and structures that are unlocked through leveling up help to drive home the player’s incentive to constantly be pushing forward.

It would be a stretch to say that Epic is anything overly groundbreaking. The title manages to stay true to Gameloft’s mantra of playing it extremely conservative in game design. Ultimately it boils down to being a predictably adequate free-to-play experience that helps to further expand of the motion picture’s exposure. At the end of the day, that is probably more than Twentieth Century Fox could have ever wanted.

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