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Boom Beach
VERDICT - Great

Score Explanation

A superior game, one of the very best in its category.

8.0
out of 10

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Boom Beach Review

Pros
  • Fun and colorful visual style
  • Hands-on tactical combat
  • Includes video replays of base attacks
Cons
  • Tedious resource management
  • Limited social interaction
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Boom Beach Review

A New Kind of Mobile War

With Clash of Clans, Supercell proved to be the indomitable force when it came to the mobile strategy genre. By combining aspects of city-building with real-time strategy combat, they were able to make something that was fun to play, amusing to watch, and that people across many demographics could enjoy. With that in mind, Supercell likely had a tough act to follow with their next title, Boom Beach. It follows a similar style to Clash of Clans and makes tweaks where necessary, but the question remains: does it hold up? It's debatable how Boom Beach compares to Clash of Clans point by point, but the good news is that on its own merits, it's definitely one of the better free-to-play games out there right now.

Playful Visuals

While Boom Beach takes place in a world that's closer to our own than the one in Clash of Clans, it carries a similarly lighthearted aesthetic with much greater visual fidelity. The graphics are bright and cheerful, and the cartoony art style looks like it borrows a few pages from Valve's Team Fortress 2. Every single one of the characters has a distinctive appearance and silhouette that makes it easy to tell them apart from a distance. This is great, for you'll be seeing a lot of people on screen at the same time. Overall, Boom Beach is a very charming-looking game, and it's clearly not one that takes itself seriously.

If there is a weakness to the graphics, it can be found on the grid from where the buildings are laid down. While the game does what it can to add character to the surrounding area, with towering cliff sides and rolling ocean waves, the actual ground looks like a flat, boring and blank sheet of green, particularly after you clear out all the trees. They'll look even worse as you lay more buildings down, as the far more interesting-looking structures will just emphasize the ground's lack of detail even more. Graphics aren't everything and they shouldn't get in the way of your enjoyment of Boom Beach, but more care could have been given to the background at least.

The Usual Building Blocks

The usual city-building mechanics are in full swing here. You acquire resources by either producing them via the right buildings or by harvesting them from the game world. When you've obtained enough, you can spend them to make more buildings, upgrade the ones you currently have, train more soldiers, or produce other useful stuff. Everything takes time, and the further you go into the game, the more expensive and time-consuming building becomes. If you just can't wait, then you can speed things along with the game's premium currency, which are Diamonds in Boom Beach's case.

It's a system we're all familiar with, and if it's not one you've taken a liking to, then Boom Beach isn't going to change your mind. It is a little better than most, as you can gather a healthy amount of Diamonds just by playing normally. They're not common, but they can be earned freely in any number of ways, such as by uncovering lost treasure chests or completing quests and achievements. Buying them is not the only option.

Boom Beach's biggest annoyance would probably be in the management of its normal resources. Unlike most games of this stripe, Boom Beach gradually builds on the resources you need rather than expect you to start harvesting them all right from the beginning. At first, you can only collect gold and lumber. As you level up, you'll eventually learn the ability to gather stone, then iron, and so on. The intent is likely to make the beginning more accessible to newcomers and ease them into the experience. 

Unfortunately, it feels like it slows things down. You're incapable of harvesting anything until you reach the required level for it, in which case, both the resources and the items that it builds will suddenly be unlocked as well, which means that you're going to play through a never-ending cycle of scarcity. First you'll struggle to keep your wood reserves up, then you must carefully manage your stone supplies, followed by your quantities of iron, and so on. Besides that, it also makes the progress of your base's technology feel awfully linear.

Tactical Combat

Boom Beach shines brightest once you decide to get off your island and go raid someone else's. Combat unfolds akin to a real-time strategy game, though you don't take direct control of your units. You'll prepare your invasion force in advance by determining what classes to bring along, but once they land on the shore, they'll pretty much go wherever they choose and attack whatever they want.

Thankfully, Boom Beach strategy is not a completely hands-off affair. Your role as the commander is to lend assistance to your troops from the gunship. You can do this in a variety of ways, including launching a strategic missile into a troublesome building, or sending medical aid to your ailing soldiers. However, the most useful and interesting form of support is to deploy flares. These things direct the ground troops to an area of the map you want them to go to, making them useful for circumventing dangerous obstacles or attacking weak points. While you won't have complete control of the battlefield, you still have enough to influence its outcome. Skillful use of your gunship's flares and abilities can help you take down enemy bases that far outclass your soldiers. It's surprisingly very fun.

On top of that is how dynamic the strategic game of war can be. Boom Beach has a loose story involving a fight against an evil militant dictatorship called Blackguard, with enemy player bases used to represent mercenaries under their command. Conquering computer-controlled islands puts them under your control, but they can easily be recaptured when you're not looking. It makes the whole campaign really feel like an actual war for resources, which is really cool.

The fun continues even when your base gets attacked. Whether or not your armaments are able to hold off an assault successfully, the game will treat you to a free video replay where you can see how it went down. This is a fantastic feature for several reasons. Not only is it fun to see how the battle progressed, but it can also teach you some neat tactics as well as show you weak points in your HQ's defense grid. In this way, Boom Beach's base-building aspect has a strong tower defense element to it.

Verdict: Boom, Baby!

Overall, the Boom Beach game is a worthy addition to every mobile gamer's library. The tedious resource management does bring it down a bit, and the app admittedly feels a tad lonely since there's currently no way to chat with other players. However, the charming art style and surprisingly tactical combat system go a long way to making it a fun diversion that differentiates it from Clash of Clans. Check it out.

- Review by David Galvin

Dave Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Somehow, he managed to find a way to combine the two passions.

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Game Video

War Time Epaulets (Boom Beach: Official TV Commercial)

Screenshots

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Boom Beach - Screen 1 Boom Beach - Screen 2

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