Rise of Lost Empires a strategy game suited more for casual gamer

Posted: June 6, 2009 in RPG

Good RPGs are rare on the iPhone/iPod platform, and few come to mind as being truly epic (e.g. Zenonia). Rise of Lost Empires is the latest arrival to the platform, and while the game looks above average and offers gameplay at the same level, it can be a somewhat unsatisfying experience especially for the hardcore gamer who will undoubtedly find this game short.

Rise of Lost Empires has two campaigns: Empire and Raiders. Empire entails playing the humans who must defend against the invading Orcs, while Raiders allows you to switch sides to play what many have dreamed of, Orcs. With 10 missions for each campaign, a total of 20 missions are available with their own set of objectives. Empire is unlocked to start, and you must complete 8 missions before the Raiders campaign is accessible. One shortcoming right off the bat is the lack of a skirmish mode which hinders the replayability of Rise of Lost Empires. Also, while not an issue for me, no multiplayer option is available.

Each campaign has 3 heroes with his or her set of special powers. As you progress through the levels, you will have the opportunity to alternate between the heroes during the game. In addition, you can acquire gold which is necessary to grow and sustain your troops. Gold and troop totals are located in the upper right hand corner, and if you don’t feed your troops, they will die. There are also 20 types of units to control and 20 types of structures to build either as part of the Empire or as the Raiders. Units include knights, archers, demons, knight horsemen, and catapults. As for structures, these include farms, towers, citadels, yards, and barracks among others. There is a certain degree of resource management when it comes to structures because they along with gold can fund your growth. For example, farms are the basic unit for the Empire and once built, they will continue to generate funds. You can also rebuild structures and create cities so there are a good variety of things for you to experiment with.

At the beginning of each mission, a cut intro scene provides part of the storyline leading into the objectives. Each mission has its own map, which is slowly revealed as you move meaning the real estate is limited and surrounded by black areas. You never really get a full view of the map although a mini-map is provided at the bottom left of the screen. A slider is also available for zooming. While the controls are straightforward—tap a character and tap on location to move—the limited visual of the maps which are supposed to convey a feeling of secrecy and discovery initially irritated me. Most of the time, you find yourself tapping in a blacked out area and sending troops into who knows what. While I did get used to the way the maps are presented, I don’t generally like these jigsaw approaches because they take away from the game’s immersiveness.

The gameplay is easy to learn and requires little or no learning curve although I will say that on occasion, moving troops individually or as group can be somewhat frustrating due to their small size and the limited scope of area in which to move. To build structures, your character must capture/reclaim a flag, and from here, by tapping on your hero, a pop-up window appears showing the different structures that can be built. Simply drag the structure icon to the desired location and it will be built before you can say “Extreme Home Makeover”. You can also grow troop ranks by building barracks for example which requires a two-step process: choosing the number of troops and then training them. While this is one way to get troops, one weird component of Rise of Lost Empires is the fact that additional troops can be acquired in the wild where they appear in the woods for example.

Each hero has a red life bar and a blue mana bar which appears under his or her icon. To access spells, a button is located in the left corner and to cast a spell, the hero must have enough strength in the blue mana bar. Once cast, the hero will temporarily be weakened and unable to cast another spell until the mana bar has recharged.

Everyone character evil orc or empire do-gooder will have a life bar over their heads, and combat will obviously affect that. The troops will auto-attack once you move them near enemies. The only one you really control is the hero/orc that you’ve selected, and attacking is done by tapping the enemy. The early missions are incredibly easy and mainly consist of locating or building something. The later missions do get somewhat more difficult in terms of being timed or facing more obstacles.

Overall, Rise of Lost Empires is a mobile port that well, plays like a mobile port. The graphics and voiceovers are appealing, and the game should provide plenty of gameplay for casual gamers. However, for hardcore gamer who finish games in hours vs. days or weeks, Rise of Lost Empires will be short. Personally, the game plays well, but don’t expect an epic RPG.

Albie Meter: 3.5 Stars (this is a strategy game I think casual gamers will value more than hardcore gamers because of the content and degree of depth)

Check out my impressions on TouchArcade at http://toucharcade.com/2009/06/07/x2-football-2009-real-tennis-2009-rise-of-empires-and-dj-mix-tour-now-available/


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