Version Reviewed: 1.5.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I like you, Dawn of Steel. I really do. You’re like a hero unit-driven version of games like Clash of Clans with giant robots. I love giant robots.
But I don’t love having to wait for every little thing right out of the gate.
Yes, Dawn of Steel is another freemium base-builder, but it’s structured a little differently in that you aren’t controlling a massive army. Instead, you get to control up to three large humanoid machines called Rigs that are loaded down with all sorts of ordinance (i.e. they blow stuff up good). Each of these behemoths can be moved together as a group or independently, and you can trigger their special attacks at any time - so long as they’re charged up.
Not simply dropping hordes of cannon fodder really helps Dawn of Steel to feel more like a bite-sized RTS (real time strategy). It’s not all that dissimilar to Metal Fatigue, really. Here the giant robots definitely steal the show, and can be individually upgraded as well as equipped with all sorts of weapons. Each class has its own specialization as well, with my current favorite being the Drone Carrier Rig and its ability to launch a swarm of expendable drones to attack anything that isn’t on my side.
The base building itself is a bit more standard, though. You have a bunch of key structures that gather resources, repair your Rigs, and so on. There are also defenses like gun turrets, missile launchers, and drone spawners. And of course you can upgrade all of these to improve their functions. Then toss up some walls to try and funnel attackers into your defenses’ line of fire. It’s all pretty much what you’d expect.
Fighting over territory is a bit of both worlds, with a rather familiar approach to conquering various map points and earning some extra goodies, and a slightly different spin to it that involves a tug-of-war against other players. This back-and-forth is actually pretty interesting in that your central base never seems to be in real danger - it’s the territories you control outside of that central zone that can be contested. And it’s not even that you lose them immediately, either. Instead, when a player moves into one of your territories you have a set amount of time to try and force them back out or risk losing it. I rather of like this system because it allows you to fight more on your own terms.
The only problem is all the waiting. You have to wait for things to build, wait for things to research, wait for things to upgrade, wait for things to repair, wait for territories to be taken over... you even have to wait a few seconds to scan a new territory, which doesn’t serve any purpose other than giving players a fancy sci-fi loading hologram thingy to look at. Normally I don’t mind waiting in free games because that’s how a lot of them make up for a lack of a subscription. But it bothers me in Dawn of Steel because you’re always waiting for something. Logging in to play pretty much boils down to “gather resources, upgrade/build, attack an enemy base, wait for Rigs to repair, attack an enemy base, wait for Rigs to repair, etc.” There isn’t any solid stretch of time where you can just play and enjoy yourself without some kind of interruption.
When you can play Dawn of Steel it can be a lot of fun. Perhaps even better than most of its peers. Problem is you can only ever play it for a couple of minutes at a time before you’re going to have to sit around and wait.