Game Reviews

Evolution: Battle for Utopia

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Evolution: Battle for Utopia

On the App Store, you'll often find games masquerading as one type of experience while providing a very different one, presumably to trick unwitting players into a cheeky download.

Most of the screens accompanying Evolution: Battle for Utopia's App Store description promise sharp 3D visuals, a deep story, and a unique combat system.

But, worryingly, one of them makes it look like yet another strategy management game in the style of Boom Beach.

Here's hoping I experience more of the former and less of the latter as I play the game over the next seven days.

First impressions

I do still think there's a little deception going on in the App Store listing, but it's not nearly as significant as I expected.

The visuals really are as good as the screens make out: the game divides itself up between two art styles - one that's isometric and used to depict the colonisation and exploration elements, and one composed of surprisingly good polygonal 3D, which is used for the combat element of Evolution.

The former is the building and researching aspect of the game, in which you fortify your base with new buildings and put your scientist to work advancing your technologies. It seems to be a typical builder in the vein of Game of War, in that the focus is less on making a cool-looking base, and more on becoming as powerful as possible.

It's also how you traverse around the overworld map, speaking with inhabitants and entering battles.

However, the other element of the game, in which you fight all sorts of creepy inhabitants, is not packed with action as the App Store screens suggest, but is instead closer to an RPG in its combat system.

You enter a battle, and then you automatically attack your opponent and chip away at their health. You can change who you focus your attacks on, which is especially useful if a large orange circle surrounds them, since this is an indication that the enemy is vulnerable. It's not an action game, then, but it's not a wholly passive experience either.

So far, so good.

Day 3: Terraforming takes a long time

In the last couple of days I've been building up my base and researching new pieces of technology to help make combat missions that little bit easier.

The Stormbreaker Pistol, for example, allows me to initiate an Aimed Shot, thanks to its laser sight. I simply allow this special attack meter to build during a fight, select it when it's ready, then wait for another meter to fill before I unleash a single very powerful shot.

I've also been constructing other elements needed for a more efficient base. The Iron Mine is in place after I cleared a wasteland of a roving gang of thugs, and this is producing Iron for me at solid levels. I've also built a Helipad, though I'm not quite sure what this is for.

If there's a slight pain to all this, it's that you can only perform one research or build or repair function at one time.

While I don't mind slow and steady progress, if you do end up having your base successfully attacked by the local wildlife you'll spend precious time you repairing destroyed buildings.

Thankfully, there are a few things that make me want to keep coming back.

The narrative is definitely one of them. There's plenty of backstory, and progress is accompanied by short but handsome cut-scenes. It focuses on the conquest of the planet you're on, the struggle to control it after Earth is polluted beyond all recognition, and how the new planet fought back against the invaders.

It's not especially thrilling per se, but there's a richness here I wasn't expecting, and that deserves credit.

Day 7: Grunts

I've found out why the Helipad is useful, but unfortunately it's primarily to access a mode I don't much care for: the PvP multiplayer.

Your team of grunts faces off against another person's team of grunts, until one of you runs out of grunts. There's not a great deal of sophistication to it, but if you're liking the battle system then I guess it's as good a place as any to show off to strangers how powerful your team has become.

The combat is definitely more lively and varied in the single-player now. I'm throwing grenades at turrets, trying to avoid sniper fire, concentrating my shots on enemy Commanders, and so on.

Outside of missions, I'm continuing to improve and upgrade my base, engaging in Special Missions that reward me with extra skills, and continuing to hack security systems in other areas so as to grab goodies from them. These activities break up the questing and combat, so they're a welcome addition.

Did I mention that I have a companion called Fido, who just so happens to be a robot dog? Because that's working in Evolution's favour too.

But progress has ground to a crawl, and that means that I'm not seeing more of the story, taking on plenty of new enemy types, or questing in loads of different lands.

It's all because the amount of resources I'm gathering isn't enough to keep up with the demands of research and construction. If I wanted to I could keep coming back, gathering the Iron at my Mine to make room for more to be created, and that way I'd build up enough resources a bit faster.

But that's not how I play, and the game is not willing to accommodate another approach. It wants you to check in frequently, and if you have a job or any other commitments you may struggle to keep up with it.

If you're looking for a strategy and combat game with some light RPG elements, and don't mind spending a lot of time on it to a schedule that suits the game but not necessarily your lifestyle, then Evolution: Battle for Utopia is for you. If that all sounds a bit much, then this really won't be for you.

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Evolution: Battle for Utopia

With excellent visuals and plenty to do, this demanding game of strategy, management, and combat only appeals to a specific crowd, but serves that crowd well