Although the trio of currencies needed to keep playing Gameloft's latest would be deemed excessive by even the most staunch freemium defender, the not so stealthy in-app purchase issues pale in comparison to how blandly this so-called strategy game actually plays.
With its low-res visuals, spoon-fed missions, and toothless tactical combat, you'd have more fun on a package tour of Afghanistan's roomiest caves.Taking pot shots
In World at Arms's parallel universe, pariah nation du jour North Korea - sorry, the KRA - has finally got around to invading the US, and it's up to you to fend off the enemy incursion from a tiny military base that hasn't actually been built yet.
Preparedness issues aside, it's a solid sub-Clash of Clans-style setup for a mix of base-building, resource-gathering, and skirmishes with ever-present foes. Unfortunately, it's grievously let down by the bland mission design and your perpetually low funds.
To gather experience and level-up your commander - earning you the opportunity to unlock more elaborate structures to build (like airfields for launching jet strikes), meatier military hardware and more gung-ho infantrymen - you have to complete specific quests.
Expanding your base one building at a time and churning out combat units are ostensibly the main challenges, though the real skill is in managing your desperately finite amounts of coins, medals, and barrels of oil.
Every action saps your limited supplies and it's easy to find yourself unable to progress, with nothing else to do but twiddle your thumbs and occasionally tap income-earning structures to collect a few measly coins and drops of fuel.
Admittedly, you do get some resources from completing missions, but never enough to give you the freedom to break free of the dry quest structure and wage your own war.
The biggest drain on your virtual income and desire to keep playing are the combat missions. Enemy units trundle towards you and all you have to do is select enough troops and tech, such as tanks and Humvees, from your reserves to outnumber them.
It's decidedly undramatic in presentation and interaction, with only jabbing at crate drops of resources, tapping explosive barrels, and swiping away enemy missiles to keep you mildly involved. If the tide of battle turns against you, the only option is to launch missiles and air strikes that cost a hefty chunk of medals for a single use.
In desperation for something to do, you might start trying to make allies or enemies with real folk on your world map, but sending gifts, putting out base fires, and duffing up lower-level players won't entertain you for long.
The truth is, even if you've got money to burn on every type of IAP, World at Arms is a dreary, sub-Facebook game version of strategy that should be met by heavy resistance by even the most casual of armchair tacticians.