MMObility: Crazy Tribes is crazy easy to put down

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MMObility: Crazy Tribes is crazy easy to put down
Crazy Tribes screenshot
I've played Crazy Tribes before. Or at least it feels that way. I've played so many MMORTS titles, mobile and otherwise, that play exactly like Crazy Tribes that it's hard writing this without feeling as though I am repeating myself. It's not that the game is a complete dud; it's actually relatively well made in a few areas. The problem is that it does not do enough to set it apart from the pack of MMORTS games that already exist. If only Crazy Tribes would take at least a few cues from a game like Grepolis!

I ran into issues almost as soon as I started the game. In the beginning tutorial -- if you can read the tiny, horrible font, anyway -- you'll be told to access a certain building in order to start upgrading. The problem was immediately obvious: Not only was the picture of the building different from the actual building in the town, but there are no labels on the individual buildings that make up your post-apocalyptic village. It's an annoying bit that could so easily be fixed.

Crazy Tribes screenshot
Each tutorial has you repeat the same process: Go back to the map, figure out which building you're looking for by clicking on all of them, and then attempt the next step. Every other step during the tutorial process showed me a lack of basic design skills or -- more likely -- the obvious signs of a developer who hasn't ever stopped to think, "I wonder whether we should sit a stranger down in front of this game and just see how well he does?" I often marvel at developers who seem to ignore such obvious design flaws. Games don't need fantastic graphics or massive budgets to be quality; the truth is that one developer can make a very high-quality game with very little cash if he sets and meets realistic goals.

The game starts you off in a well-constructed city, considering that it's pretty much the end of the world outside of your gates. There's some nicely animated smoke in the background, and zooming out the map shows just how many players there are. Maybe I am missing the game's charm, but I must admit there are a lot of players to fight and communicate with. I spent most of my time sending my scouts and trucks to fight off NPCs in the hopes that I would come back with enough goods to upgrade another building or two, but I must have gotten too upgrade-hungry at the beginning of the game and really put myself into a hole. I needed a lot of resources, fast. Then I bumped into more problems.

Crazy Tribes screenshot
In a good tutorial, you are forced to take step after linear step and are not released into the world until you understand enough to get you started. Tutorials should also help you keep an eye on your money and to set you up to survive, at least for a while. But because the tutorial here is weak, there are gaps in the gameplay of Crazy Tribes that left me with time to click around the poorly labeled game and resulted in my random button-pushing. Different buildings do different things.
  • The lab performs research and unlocks new technologies.
  • The headquarters holds on to the most important supplies like water and iodine, an important reagent for your spies.
  • The biodome grows food for your followers. The higher the biodome's level, the more followers you can have.
All of these descriptions are just different words arranged slightly differently from their fantasy-based cousins. I kept looking for something that made this game stick out from the dozens of other MMORTS titles out there but found a game that's basically worse and has a different face.

Here's the game's single shining moment: Attacking another city makes the target city pulse to indicate that you are attacking it. Many MMORTS titles just do not indicate which town you are attacking, even though it's relatively easy to find the information in attack logs and other areas. The pulsing works to give you a feeling of epic battle. If you have multiple battles going on, the map just lights up... that's powerful stuff. I wished for a similar indicator in the previously mentioned Grepolis, in fact. So points to the team on the idea of pulsing enemies.

Crazy Tribes screenshot
I attacked some cities, gathered some materials, and continued to do the same thing. I ended up forgetting the useless tutorial and just stumbled around the interface until I had enough of a town to start on the road to conquering the entire brown world that I could see... or would if I weren't so bored, that is.

Grepolis at least has some wonderful music and an interface that slides in and out and features a tutorial that has a nice, legible font and actually teaches you something. Crazy Tribes just feels cheap and half-done, and it's plain and ugly to boot. Skip this one.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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