Friday, 19 September 2014

App Review No. 67 Boom Beach

Strong Points:
Nice, strategic gameplay
Lots of upgrades
Great animations
Great variety of units
Fight style is innovative
In game and social battles are good
Lots of defences
Upgrade and build times are small
Resource bases are great
Diamonds are easy to get
All gunboat powers can be used with each other and all are helpful
Submarine makes it easier to get resources
Filling in a world map adds a sense of achievement
Being able to keep the troops that live after a raid enables multiple raid sessions
Statue's adds the option to improve your base even further
Dr Terror stages are a great way in which to get resources
Daily Rewards are also a good way to get resources
Task Forces are good and add another reason to attack bases
Operations are a brilliant idea and add another reason to attack bases 

Weak Points:
Unbalanced gameplay (much easier to defend than to attack)
Difficult to get certain resources (a surplus of some, none of another)
Your basically impenetrable base leads to less of a reason to keep playing
The upgrades can feel insignificant
No social aspects (clans/neighbourhood) (no longer an issue as of version 18)
No chat function (no longer an issue as of version 18)
The graphical changes between upgrades aren't as big as Clash of Clans

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
World Wide: 11th November, 2013

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Boom Beach is another build 'em up from Supercell, the makers of Clash of Clans. And, while it does share quite a few similarities with Clash, I will try to not compare it (much). Onto the review!

So, like most, build 'em ups, you are tasked with building up a base that is strong enough to withstand attacks from other people and thereby protecting your resources. You then use said resources to upgrade your defences/collectors in order to get more resources. Rinse and repeat. The actual resources in question are Gold, Wood, Stone and Iron. In Boom Beach, you start with collecting Gold and Wood and then progress to Stone and then Iron once you upgrade your headquarters enough. So far, so good. And it is good, and fun and addictive however there are a few problems.

The first one is that attacking and defending is nowhere near balanced. For once this means that defending is a lot easier than attacking. The reason for this is due to the huge amount of defences you can have (as well as the amount of upgrades they have and the relative ease in which to get them, at least in early game) compared to the low amount of units you can have (and the lower amount of upgrades they can have). The battling system is, by no means bad, it's just not balanced. The actual raiding involves you attacking either NPC bases (and these are much better than Clash's goblins) or real player bases. The bases are located on a world map, which you unlock more of by upgrading your radar, which gives you a nice sense of completion when you clear it. At least until the Blackguard return to take the islands back (the Blackguard are the antagonists of the game, a military regime led by LT Hammerman, who want nothing more than the destruction of the archipelago and the acquisition of the Tribesmen's power stones). As well as these, there is also Dr. Terror, a scientist that shows up on a Wednesday and a Saturday and enables you to get a lot of resources for beating, relatively easy bases (although these get harder every time you beat him on the same day). Rather than placing individual troops anywhere (other than the red area) a la Clash you instead place groups of one type of unit, on one (and occasionally two for NPC bases) side(s) of the opponent's base. Your troops then have to run up the beach (hence Boom Beach) and start attacking.

Rather than a three-star system like Clash (I'm really not doing very well with not comparing them, am I) you instead only have to destroy the headquarters's to win. Not only this, but every other building that is destroyed takes health away from the headquarters's which makes it easy to kill. Once you get there of course, which, as I've discussed, is harder than it seems. The different troops/cannon fodder that you have at your disposal are: the Rifleman (a standard meat shield/soldier), the Heavy (a mini-dun wielding soldier with high health and population space), Zooka (a bazooka wielding girl with high attack power and low health), Warrior (a melee attacker with a hammer that heals you), Tank (a long range, high attack and high health unit that takes energy to land) and the Medic (a splash healer). Also, joining your attacking force are a number of powers, courtesy of your gunboat. These powers range from an artillery shell that deals lots of damage to one building, to a flare that can be used to re-position your troops all the way to a shock bomb that stops defences from attacking for a while. These attacks all use energy which you get more of by upgrading your gunboat and replenish by defeating buildings (it's also automatically replenished when you win/lose a battle). Other than resources, you also get Victory Points for beating a base (and occasionally two!) and lose them when the Blackguard take back one of their islands (however, you don't lose any for losing your home-base and even gain diamonds for a successful defence!).

As well as normal islands (which gives you continuous gold for having, by the way) there are also resource islands. These islands, as their names suggest, give you resources, depending on which type of island it is and, so are very sought after. The difference between these and the gold bases is that they can be defended and upgraded. However, unlike with your home-base, you do not have to buy the defences or upgrades and, instead, they level up when the resource base changes owner (either by you taking it or losing it). For this reason, they will continually get better and better until either you, or another person, has a base too strong to take back (yet). And, if the base (or any other, player owned base for that matter) is too hard then, after a bit of time, you can always find a new, random, opponent.

Meanwhile, back at base, you've got an island to upgrade. Other than the usual assortment of collectors, you can get money from raiding, daily rewards (which actually gives you a choice of three rewards per day), resource bases, get wood from cutting down trees or breaking stone for stone in exchange for gold and, once you reach Headquarter level 9, by using the submarine. The submarine lets you dive for a collection of three different rewards (a selection of diamonds, resources and power stones) in exchange for some gold. To begin with, upgrades are very cheap and the build times are always short so there is lots to do. However, due to the amount of upgrades that you can do (with the headquarters already going up to level 20), I find that you don't really feel a lot of achievement from completing an upgrade. The game tries to halt your progress slightly by only letting you upgrade one thing at a time but, as upgrades are only, usually, a couple of hours long, this doesn't affect it too much. You can also upgrade your units and gunboat powers as well as your mines in the armoury and, due to the much bigger price of these upgrades, they do feel like a bigger achievement. However, they do not change the unit’s stats very much and don't change the unit’s aesthetics at all (and the buildings aesthetics are only changed slightly except for some upgrades). This annoyed me a bit as I really like Clash of Clan's aesthetic changes when you upgraded something as it made me feel that I was increasing something other than numbers.

The final thing that you can do to upgrade your base is through the use of power stones. There are four types of these elusive stones (and three variants of each type), life (boost production), ice (improves base defence), magma (powers up troops) and dark (various powers). There are fragment, shard and crystal variants of these different types and these let the sculptor sculpt different types of statues (idol, guardian and masterpiece) that each convey a better bonus than the last. They can also be boosted for a while to increase their bonus further.

Overall, Boom Beach is a great game, in the same vein as Clash of Clans (last time I'll mention it I swear), that is almost as good as its big brother but never quite hits the mark. Clash on!... I mean Boom on! (it's not quite the same!)

Rating: 90%

Goodbye for now, Harry

Update: BOOM! Task Forces have been implemented! Team up with other players in your Task Force (which can have 5, 10, 25 or 50-member limit depending on your preference) and communicate with each other so as to gather Intel on the Blackguard. Also, design (and I do mean design) a badge to show everyone who you are. Use the Intel that you've gathered to execute Operations against the Blackguard and get rewards! Finally, cool new weather has been implemented, helpful Gunboat ability timers and a few other updated graphics! And, of course, bug fixes and optimisations have been hunted out and brought to the Beach!

Update: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Why so many "BOOM!"'s you may ask? Well that will be the newest recruit to the Boom Beach army - the Grenadier! This unit uses grenades (obviously) to inflict area damage on enemy buildings, with a slight downgrade of accuracy. Also, you can now use Intel to take out random defensive buildings in operations (with the cost increasing with each successive sabotage). Dr. Terror's Wednesday Terror Statues have been weakened so you can get out there and get more Dark Power Stones (also the radar info screen now holds new invasion details). Finally, you can now visit Task Force members bases from the chat screen, there are new NPC levels and Power Bases as well as new epic win sounds and lots and lots of new graphics and graphical updates! BOOM! (sorry, I accidentally took the pin out...)

Update: BOOM! Sizzle! Everything must burn in this update - especially the enemy/your base as the new troop, 'The Scorcher' reports for duty! Also, wildlife and female villagers have been spotted on your island! As well as this, you can now make notes on operations and the operations bases have been given new layouts! The Grenadier, not wanting to be left behind, can now throw faster and further while the Tanks deal more damage and train faster (but have less health). Cannons, Boom Cannons and Boom Mines no longer deal more damage to Tanks but do more damage overall. Finally, the sabotage price has been decreased, Officer's powers have been diminished (to being able to only kick one member every 20 minutes) and the Landing Craft colours have been improved. Now let's just hope that The Scorcher doesn't burn everything!

Update: BOOM! Charge! A new enemy approaches... Colonel Gearheart is here! Destroy her War Factories in order to get new prototype modules that can be used to make experimental and unstable prototype defences using the new Prototype Weapons Lab! Wan't more prototype modules? Well then, you'd best start defending against Lt. Hammerman! That's right, after being attacked so many times, Lt. Hammerman has brought the fight to you! In addition, events are now daily in a cycle of Dr. Terror's Base, Dr. Terror's Volcano Base, Colonel Gearheart's War Factories, Dr. Terror's Base, Dr. Terror's Volcano Base and then Lt. Hammerman. To help you with these new events (and two new super-challenging operations) the Gunboat has gained a new ability - the Critters: robots who live to distract and destroy. With all of these attacks occurring, it would be nice to be able to watch attack replays from your activity log, wouldn't it? Well now you can! Also, you can now re-arrange your base more easily by swapping building positions and you can now drag and drop Landing Crafts so as to switch their order. Furthermore, you can now check your Task Force's Operation stats and have a one-time only player name changes. Finally, there is now Arabic language support.

Update: BOOM! Share! You can now share attack and defence replays with your Task Force and save multiple base layouts. In addition, there are lots of new building upgrade level graphics and lots of bug fixes as well as various improvements such as Gearheart's event having more reward thresholds starting at 2 gears and Critters no longer following Flares or receiving benefits from Medics, Medkits or Statues. Finally, there are a few balance changes: Gearheart and Hammerman now give out more rewards (with Hammerman's increasing at the higher VP ranges); Dr. Terror's event difficulty has been increased and Turtle and crab populations have been reduced (and starfish have been added).

Update: BOOM! Headquaters upgrade! That's right, Headquarters 21 is now available and, with it, brings the Armoury 21 with new upgrades for Troops and Gunboat Abilities! And you'll probably want to protect this new Headquarters so the engineers down at the Prototype Weapons Factory have created a new Prototype Defence - the Shield Generator! Furthermore, you can now shock your enemies into submission with the new Shock Mine! "Sir, Co-Leader reporting for duty, sir!" Promote members of your Taskforce to Co-Leader rank and share the burden of command. And you'll need all the help you can get so as to deal with the new Operation Power Base layouts which include Prototype Defences. In addition, visibility on Operation attack participation has been increased and Intel prices have decreased. As well as this, Hammerman on the Hunt events have been revamped to include seven stages and you can now reinforce your Landing Crafts from on the map screen. More achievements! More and better graphics! Lots of bug fixes!

Update: BOOM! 10 new Power Base layouts! SNEAK! Sabotage can now target Shield Generators and Damage Amplifiers! DESIGN! Several graphical updates for Vault levels! SQUISH! Lots of bug fixes!

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