App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Build, upgrade, research, train, attack, defend. These are all aspects that many iOS gamers are familiar with. Plenty of multiplayer freemium games utilize these core ideas, so it's only natural. Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North is certainly no exception, but the way it handles these concepts makes it feel unique. And it's much more involving than I'd expected.
It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to learn that players are supposed to work on maintaining, expanding, and defending their own kingdom. Everyone starts off with a castle and a few key structures, with a brief tutorial going over the basics of construction, upgrading, training, and so on. Once the official learning is over there's still an ever-present list of suggested projects that give players a bit of guidance if they need it and provides some resources for jobs well done. A special 7 day grace period is given to new lords and ladies in order to shield them from other players' attacks, but should they desire to dive right in they can bypass this protection once they've upgraded their castle to a certain point.
One of the biggest problems a game such as this can have is a lack of guidance. Kingdoms of Camelot does not have such an issue. Everything is explained and indicated, making short and long-term goals alike easier to attain. For example; if I want to upgrade my barracks but can't, I can tap on it and check out a handy list that explains exactly what I'm missing. But as unexpectedly user-friendly as everything is, it's the pacing that really kept me invested. Players can only build/upgrade one structure and research one thing at a time, but they can research and build simultaneously. Training can also be done in addition to building and researching, and all manner of units and defenses can be queued up to save time and effort. And while all of this is going on it's also possible to scout and attack neighboring territories or even join the chat channel and talk shop with other players.
Aside from the lag, I've got no complaints about Kingdoms of Camelot. Seeing as it's not exactly action-packed the somewhat constant chugging and noticeable music skips aren't all that profound, but it all does get rather irritating. Especially considering that there's very little animation to bog things down, save the one for building construction and the little bars that display the remaining time for each task in progress.
A little chugging here and there doesn't keep Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North from being an excellent freemium strategy game. It looks good, it's accessible but still complex and intricate, and there's almost always something to do. Even if that wall upgrade still has a few hours left.