Dragon Storm (iOS) review

Dragon Storm is a new release from Glu Mobile and Griptonite Games. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of hard currency.

Dragon Storm

Dragon Storm is another addition to the long line of midcore strategy games on mobile and social platforms, and doesn’t deviate significantly from the formula established in titles such as Kabam’s Kingdoms of Camelot. Players split their time between building up their own personal kingdom — which here is a floating island with its own resident dragon — and sending their forces out into the world to challenge both a single-player campaign and player vs player online combat.

The building component of the game is very conventional and rather light on strategy. Specific buildings may only be constructed in particular locations, and the game continually badgers players in the direction of what to build or upgrade next through a series of “recommended quests” that seemingly never end. If the player were to do nothing but follow the series of recommended quests, they would spend several hours doing nothing but upgrading the same buildings over and over again for reasons that are never made particularly clear to them. It would be nice to see the game’s pace varied somewhat with quests encouraging them to try out the single player or PvP components, but instead they simply focus on what is, by far, the game’s most boring component.

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 11.58.07 AMThings fare slightly better in the single-player campaign, though not by much. Players are tasked with a series of objectives in a linear sequence of chapters that supposedly depict their kingdom’s attempts to reclaim the “lower world” from the dragons. In practice, this normally means training as many troops as possible in the building component, then capturing a certain number of hexagonal spaces on the campaign map by sending them in and hoping you have more soldiers than your opponent, then eventually tackling a “boss” in exactly the same manner. There is no direct interaction with the battle — players send out their armies, wait for them to finish their battle, then review a text-based screen of the battle’s results. Player vs player combat works in much the same way — it’s more a numbers game than anything else, and there’s not a lot of genuine strategy involved.

Pretty much everything in Dragon Storm takes real time to accomplish, whether that’s constructing new buildings, upgrading existing ones, training troops, researching new technologies or sending armies out on the march. Wait times may, as ever, be bypassed with special items or simply by directly expending hard currency. As well as speeding up time-consuming actions, hard currency may also be spent on special items such as special troop types, buffs, protection from attack by other players and resource packages, required to construct various buildings and troop types. Both “speed up” items and hard currency are provided to the player in relatively generous quantities at the outset of the game, but after that the player is required to make in-app purchases to enjoy further benefits of the same nature. Hard currency may also be acquired for free by making use of a Tapjoy offer wall, and there is a “rewards” system to encourage players to make repeated in-app purchases — every so many crowns that are purchased, the player will receive a bonus chest with special items.

Dragon Storm

Dragon Storm is a well-presented game — its 3D graphics and high quality sound make it one of the best-looking and best-sounding games of this type on iOS — but it simply isn’t very interesting or exciting to play. Casual players will baulk at the apparent complexity of the game (not helped by its incredibly cluttered interface on the small screen of the iPhone) while those who are fans of standalone PC strategy games will find that there’s very little depth or substance here. It’s also a bit buggy at times, and doesn’t cope at all well with a patchy Internet connection, often crashing altogether rather than allowing the player to continue playing offline and then sync progress when the connection is re-established.

More than anything, though, this is a game that doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from its numerous, very similar rivals from other companies, and consequently it’s not one particularly worthy of enthusiastic recommendation.

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Another midcore strategy game fails to add anything new to a somewhat stagnant genre.