Developer: TapZen
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.3.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5s

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I was never a boy scout growing up, but I did respect the principles of the life style; mainly the one about always being prepared. The ideology comes in handy in a number of scenarios, and it’s also the one thing that you can never overdo in any given situation — unless there happens to be a paywall in your way.

This Means WAR! liberally borrows from its respective peers of mobile top-down strategy and glamorizes them into combat porn for the soldier in all of us. So long you’re graciously willing to commit to the hours of tedious farming.

screen-army-2Hitching a ride on the coattails of games like Clash of Clans, This Means WAR! will have you deploying various classes of soldiers in your own make-shift army in real time against a number of opposing forces who want to claim the Red Mercury resources all for themselves. The touch-screen functions are as responsive as they are intuitive, and dropping dudes on the field is equal parts easy and tactical as you have speedy control over vantage points that can give you instantaneous recon of what to expect across enemy lines. The battles will get crazier and crazier, and without the right amount of prep you’ll just end up sending your men to a bullet-ridden death before they even get past the trenches. It adds to the surprising amount of depth that This Means War! has to offer, but unfortunately it’s executed in one of the most frustrating paywall fashions yet.

In order to prepare anything (classes, upgrades, and improved resource gathering), you’ll need to farm and produce these perks through collected resources earned at the end of every battle. You’re gradually introduced to the nuances of the resources and materials necessary to shape your platoon into decorated war legends. Supplies, red mercury, and power cells can all be obtained in-game, but power cells in-particular are significantly more valuable than the other two as you only start off with a cache of 500 before you have to start throwing down some real-life space bucks for more of them.

That’s my biggest gripe: the power cells are mostly influential in speeding things up, and when you’re not in combat every action is delayed behind an energy wall – and I mean every single expansion effort.

screen-attackAside from speeding up the process of any action that’s dragged out through the timed interval of an energy wall, certain facilities capable of playing a substantial advantage in combat are exclusively constructed from the same resource — which isn’t necessary to play per say, but the game’s design slowly pushes players in that direction when the difficulty curve begins to mount.

Honestly, This Means WAR! isn’t difficult by any means, and it does have its rewarding moments – especially when the combination of tacit class selection and effective delegation of offense fueled by reflexively skilled tapping earns you a victory — but the farming part just about stinks. There’s hardly anything cerebral about it when it comes to priority or allocation, and the fact that everything is walled means that sooner or later the game design comes off a bit too strong in its efforts to get players to pull out their credit cards.

Combat is still fun as hell though, and you can still have fun playing This Means WAR! for that alone.

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