Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Trench warfare, especially the iconic conflict along the Western Front, was one of the defining characteristics of World War I. Both sides, deeply entrenched in muddy gutters, dying in droves to artillery shelling and poison gas in a grim and bloody war of attrition for the sake of gaining a few more precious inches of dirt than their opponents. While Warfare Nations' setting may be obviously inspired by World War II's battlefronts and technology, the futility of progress seems much more reminiscent of The Great War. One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, one step back. It's a war of inches and constant, grinding attrition.
Visually, Warfare Nations takes design cues from series like Metal Slug or Advance Wars, with squat, almost cutely stylized units. The gameplay, on the other hand, is neither as 'run-and-gun' as the former nor as tactical as the latter. Here the player's assembled armies move from left to right, encountering barbed wire, gun emplacements, and enemy units on their march to destroy the opposing base. Doing so captures the location on the world map, granting a periodic payout of either gold or iron.
Where the frustrating futility comes is that these captured enemy locations get reclaimed in relatively short order. For example, one night before bed I had just finished capturing every location on the map, save for the final enemy base. I put the iPad away and slipped off into dreams of reaping the abundant rewards of gold and iron and the great siege to follow that awaited me the next morning. So many upgrades were in my future! But upon awakening, all but one or two of my captured bases had been reclaimed, leaving me with only the paltry sum generated by the scraps that remained. And while the mission rewards are decent enough, every victory comes at the heavy cost of a lot of manpower and there is barely enough surplus to begin funding the expensive unit and building upgrades needed to keep pace with the enemy once reinforcements are purchased.
Also, sampling the game's PVP regularly matched me against opponents who grossly out-leveled and stomped me into the ground. I'd much rather be told no match in my range can be found rather than be somebody's punching bag.
In the end, the glacial progression is the main issue that keeps Warfare Nations from being an unreserved recommendation, as it's difficult to get deep enough in to keep the brain's reward center stimulated before tedium and frustration take hold. Being a free-to-play, as it is, it feels a little deliberately cash-grabby in order to circumvent the annoyingly slow acquisition of funds and the pain of not being able to see your army grow, both in size and diversity. By World War II, commanders had learned that throwing wave after wave of young men into the meat grinder was no way to win a war. Sadly, in this alternate universe it seems like VOLV never got the memo.