Townsmen 2 Gold
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| Townsmen 2 Gold

If you've never spent time commuting by rail in the UK, it can come as quite a shock.

On the first day, when your train is 15 minutes late because of a signalling error, you mutter "tsk" and shrug it off.

On the second day, when your train is 13 minutes late because of overhead line damage, you marvel at the coincidence. Two days in a row – what are the chances?

Then, on the third day, it hits you: it's going to be like this every single day – like demented clockwork – for the rest of your life. You spin around to look at the other commuters on the platform expecting riots, protests, burning effigies. Nobody's moving. They've come to accept mediocrity. Trains are always late. That's life.

In this respect, mobile gaming can be a bit like commuting; too often, the games that arrive on our platform just aren't up to much. We should be grateful, then, for Townsmen 2. Sticking with our analogy, Townsmen 2 is like the first class cabin of a comfortable, well-equipped train that always arrives on time while its peers are foundering several miles back, unable to roll over the soggy leaf of ambition.

Before we get carried away, though, let's take a closer look. At its core, Townsmen 2 is a 'god game' that sees you trying to establish a settlement within a province seized from a king's empire. Two modes of play – Random and Mission – are offered and while the latter forms the backbone of the game and the most effective means of learning your way around, you shouldn't discount the former.

Far from being random, this particular mode enables you to customise almost every part of your map, starting with the option of three sizes of playing area. Then, you must decide on the proportions of your forest, followed by your mountains, the amount of water, and finally the number of resources.

Having established those parameters, Random mode subsequently reveals itself to be an entirely open-ended, sandbox-style environment in which all you need to do is keep your village ticking over.

Mission mode, on the other hand, requires you to hit productivity targets before being zapped into the next level. While you can build what you want in these levels, to properly succeed you'll need to follow the advice the game provides.

In terms of content, Townsmen 2 is comparable with other strategy titles. You can construct marketplaces, lumbermills, smelteries, cultivate three kinds of food, build churches in which your villagers can worship to increase their productivity, and more. Your castle resides at the centre of your town and stores your resources before these are taken to market or deployed in the construction of other buildings. So far, so usual.

Slightly less typical, however, is the option to raise a barracks to gamble on whether to raid other villages for supplies, and the ability to terraform the landscape, turning marsh into grass, water into forest, and so on. They are welcome additions to what is otherwise a fairly standard – albeit excellently realised – god game template.

Indeed, it's only really when you spend more time with the game that you notice the attention to detail HandyGames has taken. The castle, for instance, doesn't only store materials – it also uses them for its general upkeep, subtracting every ten days an amount of resource in proportion to its size.

In fact, all of the buildings levy a toll for upkeep, and if you don't pay attention to your reserves, your town can start decomposing from the inside, forcing you to demolish buildings in order to harvest materials to sell to raise the gold to start rebuilding. The effect of the game's fine filigreed detail is akin to a living structure, a virtual organism that you want to keep alive and in good health.

In conclusion, by accomplishing its aim so well in every one of the areas it tackles, Townsmen 2 shows how complacent most rival creations have been, and how capable the mobile platform – as a credible form of handheld gaming – can be.

Townsmen 2 Gold

A part of the definitive god game series on mobile, Townsmen 2 is a model of micro-managerial majesty
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Rob Hearn
Rob Hearn
Having obtained a distinguished education, Rob became Steel Media's managing editor, now he's no longer here though.