Armies is a compelling social multi-player Facebook game

Armies by Frozenbear is a game that takes full advantage of the social networking context offered by Facebook. The game asks you to raise your armed forces from a trainee to a full fledged army. In order to get credits to upgrade your unit (more on this later) and purchase better units.

Players are offered a variety of options to accrue credits. The most obvious route is to get credits by going to war. You can compete against players with similar strengths in the World War tab (a smart move as this ensures the really strong players won’t bully the noobs). Or you can fight the Army Kid, a computer bot. After you click “fight,” the computer determines who wins based on your respective strength. Even if you have less overall strength, there is still a chance you can win so there is little incentive not to try. You can also challenge your friends.

By winning, you are given a certain number of credits that you can use to buy weapons upgrades (like knives, artillery pieces, and M-16s) or better units (like grunts, battalions, or fire squads). The big units cost thousands upon thousands of credits, so you either need to spend a lot of time fighting or use alternative means of procuring credits.

Inviting your friends (“drafting” them in the game’s language) helps, and the game does a good job of enticing you to invite your friends to build up your forces. But even without them, this game can be fun by simply challenging the bot, challenging random people in the World War, or playing the “Build Morale” mini-game which allows you to risk credits to gain credits – a pseudo-gambling feature.

The game also has several partnerships with other applications and outside companies. By giving their partners business, you get a lot of credits (some are worth a couple thousand). It’s a great business strategy – Frozenbear gets strong marks for pushing you to help further the game’s interests.

There is also a strong social component to the game. Aside from the friend invitations, there are a number of larger armies players can join (or you can start your own). People really get into their armies and try to take on opposing armies, so that opens up a group mentality and shared cause dynamic. You don’t need other people to enjoy the game, but having friends to challenge and join your ranks makes it a much richer experience.

On the gaming side, the lack of animation and strange slowdowns at points can be frustrating. None of the artwork to depict your armies is original, and the language is oddly colloquial, so it doesn’t maintain the “military” motif very well. The game is well developed, but still obviously very cheaply made. Hiring a staff artist to depict uniform pictures and inserting some flash animation for the battles wouldn’t take much time or resources these days.

The game also doesn’t require any skills – just time – which can be a deterrent for some gamers. And by time, I mean eons. Unless you plan on inviting everyone you know and taking a lot of the partner offers, getting the really big stuff is like trying to win a stuffed animal at a fair – it’s there for show but almost no one actually wins it.

Still, many people will be drawn to the social aspects and the openness of the experience. Even on a basic level, playing “soldier” is fun.

Developer’s Score: 9/10
Gameplay Score: 6/10
Days it will take you to amass credits to buy a bomber: 1,984

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