App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I recall thinking about how cool the original Rivals At War might be if it had more of a sci-fi theme to it. I mean I enjoyed it for what it was, but I've never been a huge fan of modern warfare type stuff. So Rivals At War: 2084 is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for, right? Well, kind of. It certainly looks the part, and features a number of incremental improvements to Hothead's card collecting formula, but it also retains some of its problems.
Playing Rivals At War: 2084 is a lot like playing with collectible baseball cards; it's more about the collection than the actual game. Each match against opposing players is automatic, with the results being determined through a number of different factors such as soldier stats and whether or not certain tactics have been used. Everyone acts and everything activates without the need for player input. Instead of worrying about reaction time and combat experience players will have to worry about acquiring more powerful soldiers, equipment, and tactics through card packs. As their team gets stronger and they win more skirmishes they can purchase more card packs for even stronger cards; and the cycle continues.
Rivals At War: 2084 is by far the best looking of Hothead's card games to date. The models are more detailed, the lighting is better, and even the title screen has been reworked in order to bring the updated visuals to the forefront. What I like most, though, are all the small improvements. Players can earn powerful gear through card packs to equip their soldiers with (instead of pointless vanity items). Winning five quick matches automatically earns a free Silver card pack. A campaign mode has been added that, while still just a series of random PvP battles, will provide players with special rewards upon completing missions. It's also easier to earn premium currency: simply participate in the maximum number of Campaign battles (10) and earn five bucks, win or lose. At the very least that equates to one Gold pack every two days.
Unfortunately, as I've said, Rivals At War: 2084 has held on to a mechanic I've never been too crazy about: critical injuries. Having to pay to heal a wounded soldier is okay, but the way the price jumps up with each consecutive mending really bothers me. It makes holding on to favorites incredibly difficult, and when coupled with the option to temporarily "shield" the team for a day or more (with an in-app purchase, no less) it doesn't feel quite right.
I like Rivals At War: 2084's improvements (and enjoy the game itself) enough to look past the questionable shield system, though. It's Hothead's prettiest and the most refined offering yet. With room for more improvement, of course.