Evolution: Battle for Utopia is a strategy/RPG game available in the app store and on Google Play. A large update was released this month named Black Legion and my review is based on this version of the game for the iPhone.
The App is free to download, but follows the typical payment model for this genre; In App purchases. My review is based on the first 10 levels of play without spending any money.
The game is set in the future after humankind has left Earth in expeditions to search for new planets. One of the expeditions comes across a tropical planet named Utopia, a lush and diverse habitable planet, with the technology capable of terraforming barren terrain into rich and diverse landscapes. Shortly after their arrival a deadly virus breaks out on Earth forcing most of the inhabitants to seek out Utpoia.
To cut a long story short, war breaks out on Utopia resulting in the destruction of most of the planet, the virus is cured on Earth and you start the game on a ship to Utpoia to try and find out what happened to the planet.
The game starts after you land on Utopia and you have to search out a suitable place for your base. As you start to explore the map you soon discover the planet is invested with Starship Trooper like bugs - when attacked you are taken into a first person combat/RPG cut scene.
You attack enemies with your pistol and can also use med packs to regenerate your health. Alongside you is your trusty robotic dog Fido, who fights with you.
Once you have killed a few bugs you soon find your main base and the game turns into your typical free to play strategy game i.e. collecting resources, upgrading buildings, upgrading weapons e.t.c.
If like me you have played your fair share of strategy games, you quickly try to work out which items are hard to get (usually purchased with real money) and which items you can happily use with the knowledge that they are easy to come by. Well Evolution: Battle for Utopia has a lot of different resources and item drops! It’s worthwhile understanding what they do before you end up wasting all those rare items.
Iron is one of the three main resources and is used for pretty much everything. This includes the construction of buildings, upgrading weapons, research and ammo production. Luckily this is produced over time in your mine, which can be upgraded to increase production. Because of this you do not need to be too careful with this resource.
Biofuel is used for the same things as iron. Luckily biofuel is also produced passively in the reactor at the center of your base. Again due to this constant supply over time you do not need to be too careful what you use it for early on. The only thing you may consider saving up for is unlocking another operation slot. This costs 1,500 biofuel and will allow you to perform two tasks simultaneously (think builders hut in Clash of Clans).
Magmatite is the last of the three main resources which you can produce yourself. This is produced in your Magmatite mine and is also used in manufacturing and building construction. Like the other two resources you do not need to be too careful what you spend this on.
Gems are the in app currency; so don’t waste your gems early on by speeding up buildings with low timers or instantly completing upgrades. As the main way to acquire gems is with real money, they are unsurprisingly rare to find in game. You are however awarded one or two from time to time and you should bank these until you have played long enough to work out what you wish to spend them on.
Data Disks are one of the rarer item drops and they are very important as you need Data Disks for practically all building and weapon research. They are also used in hacking, a mini game which rewards you with items. Try not to waste them on hacking missions with poor rewards, as typically you will use up two data disks and be rewarded with small quantities of easily obtainable resources. By tapping the mission symbol on screen you can see the rewards before starting.
Medals are used for upgrading your weapons in the workshop. You can upgrade the damage, magazine capacity and critical hit chance individually on each weapon. It’s a good idea to use these on your starter pistol to begin with, as this is the gun you will be using 90% of the time. Later you can also use them to train allies.
Skill Points are for upgrading weapons and buildings with new abilities. Examples are: adding a grenade launcher to your shotgun or increasing base defenses. In the early levels these are also quite difficult to obtain in large enough numbers to purchase anything useful. It’s best to plan carefully what you spend your skill points on.
Crystalline is also used in research and can be obtained by selling items to a merchant and occasionally as a reward for missions. Later in the game you can use it as a consumable for special psi abilities.
Coins are awarded for logging into the game a certain number of consecutive days in a row. After you a reach a certain number you will be rewarded with special items (a little like VIP from Game of War: Fire Age).
After you have reached your base and set up the basic buildings, you should have a constant supply of Biofuel from your generator and Magmatite from your mine. The next thing you need to find is a source of Iron. The map overview of Utopia is split into different areas which you can travel between instantaneously, the only one open to you initially is the Iron Mine map.
When you first visit any map it will be covered in a black fog of war, which you will slowly remove as you work your way through. This part of the game is where you earn your experience in order to level up, by attacking bugs and other enemies.
Each fight jumps to a cut scene usually against waves of three targets. You can switch between targets, change weapons, use medi packs, throw grenades and duck behind a shield that offers some protection from incoming fire.
Once you have cleared the whole map you get to use the terraforming device, this transforms the barren terrain into a lush forest. At this point you will also uncover an iron mine which will now supply you with a constant source of iron.
It’s worthwhile upgrading your Generator, Magmatite Mine and Iron Mine as high as possible for your level. To provide a higher rate or resource collection and storage.
As you work your way through a map you will uncover mini games, such as memory, hacking and puzzle games. These reward you with items and resources.
One of my favourite mini games is where you get to send Fido down a bugs nest, you then take control of the robotic dog in an attempt to chase down the bug, avoiding rocks and launching missiles at it as it crawls onto the ceiling!
The game is fairly slow to progress without purchasing gems, it feels almost too slow and there is a fair amount of waiting around for resources to generate. Whilst I understand the developers need to make money, it does feel as if it is tipped a little too much towards opening your wallet, too early on in the game. This is a shame because the game does have a lot to offer and is quite enjoyable when you do have enough resources to work through the maps and upgrade your weapons e.t.c.
I’ll see how it progresses over the later levels, but I suspect like most of the free to play games, it will only get worse as you work your way to higher levels.
Evolution: Battle for Utopia has a lot of nice features which does set it apart from some of the other free to play, online strategy games currently on the market. The first person RPG/shooter part of the game is a nice touch and the mini games can be challenging and add to the diversity of the game play. The only downside in the early levels is the amount of time it takes to progress without spending real money. I’ll review the game play again once I reach level 20.
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