A couple of games have made the brave leap from popular Facebook games to a fully-fledged iOS title, all experiencing differing levels of success. With Facebook games, you’re relying on people being on Facebook anyway, doing the usual Facebook-y things, and then just popping into your game because it’s convenient. However, when you port a game to the iOS market, you’re asking the players to specifically open your game; it’s now a conscious choice instead of something that people do because they’re already on the site. Total Domination: Reborn is the latest of these transfers, and while it’s rather popular on the Facebook platform, does that success translate over to the iOS devices? Is the game even fun anymore once you’re no longer given the ability to use a mouse, but have to use your fingers?
Total Domination: Reborn is, at its core, a management sim with a little bit of combat thrown in for good measure. On the surface, the game looks as if it’s going to be a full on RTS title but, once you get down to the bare bones of it all, you realise that you’re not going to be commanding your troops individually (that’s one of the A.I. character’s jobs); you’re just the guy who tells people what to build, where and when. You could think of it as an RTS without the combat and you wouldn’t be far wrong. When the game starts, you’ll be given a hell of a lot of tutorial missions to work through. These may feel tedious – especially to someone used to this style of game – but they’re well worth working through as there are some nuances to the game that pure luck alone won’t teach. You’re handsomely rewarded for completing all missions too – whether tutorial or not – in experience points (for levelling, we’ll get to that in a bit) and crystals, so they’re well worth your time and effort.
Crystals are Total Domination’s way of getting you to spend some real money in the game. When you’re constructing the many buildings in the game – and you will be constructing a hell of a lot of them – each one will take a certain amount of time to erect. At the start of the game this may only be a matter of minutes, but sooner or later the time between laying down the foundations of a new building and actually being able to use it gets into the hours. Spending some crystals on the completion of these buildings allows them to be finished instantly – it’s not cheap though. The crystals can also be used in other areas of the game too, such as when training new units but, generally speaking, you’re going to be using them solely to make something that would normally take hours take only a matter of minutes.
The levelling system, as with most games of this ilk, is one of the major factors pulling people back time and time again. With each level you increase, you’ll gain access to more and more items, more missions and more of the game in general will be available to you. The biggest thing about levelling up is the ability to fight against other real people that may be dotted around your sector. Attacking people is something that’s only achievable at certain levels, and even then only when certain criteria are met, but it’s still an interesting aspect of the game and something that’s a lot more fun with friends. The combat in Total Domination: Reborn – whether you’re playing against real people or the A.I. – consists of two options, offensive and defensive (which are indicated by red and green text, respectively). You tap on an area you want to attack or defend, choose the units you want to send in, let them loose and sit back and wait for them to succeed or fail. A little bit more involvement in this area would have been nice, but it doesn’t take too much away from the experience on the whole.
The difficulty of the controls in Total Domination: Reborn depends entirely on which device you’re using. Play the title on an iPad and you’re probably not going to have any issue moving the various buildings around the map and placing them into position, however, if the only iOS device you’ve got available to play the game on is one of the smaller devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch, then you should be aware that actually playing the game isn’t an easy task. There’s a lot of content on the screen at any one time – as can be seen in the video – and tapping on each of the individual elements can be difficult at times. It’s not a major detriment to the gameplay – most people will forget it’s even there in a matter of minutes – but it’s something that potential players should be aware of if the only devices they have available are an iPod or iPhone.
VERDICT: Playing Total Domination: Reborn on a smaller iOS device can be a little difficult, and players on these devices would probably prefer to play the Facebook version of the game. However, if you’re able to play the game on an iPad then there’s nothing better than sitting back, watching some TV while simultaneously taking over the world. There are things missing from the game that would have made it truly excellent – such as the ability to control the actual combat instead of just sending people in and letting them get on with it – but what you’re getting is an accomplished strategy and management game that looks great, sounds great and, for the most part, plays great.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.