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We Rule iPhone Review

24/06/2010 Specialist Touch Gamer Review
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We Rule iPhone

We Rule



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Soulful Gamer (iPhone)

We Rule on iPhone places you in charge of a little kingdom, growing food and manufacturing goods for money and experience. Its toytown charm makes it fun for a while, but connectivity issues may mean missed opportunities when you can't access your kingdom. If Farmville is your idea of fun, this one's for you.

We Rule is one of the many simming games to come out on the iPhone and iPod Touch lately. I couldn't say if Farmville on Facebook actually started the rush, but it's certainly the game I think of when considering how I first came across the genre. That probably gives you the biggest clue as to what playing We Rule is like. Build farms to grow crops for sale. Houses allow you to tax the citizens of your kingdom. Various other businesses allow good to be manufactured that can then be sold for coins and experience points.

So far it's not that exciting and, to be honest, I didn't really want to get into yet another kingdom sim. I had been playing Travian up until recently, participating in two servers and making some great friends. I didn't sign up for the latest server though, so why get into running a kingdom again? And especially one that doesn't even give you the opportunity to visit your neighbours with your army?

To be honest, I thought I'd try We Rule because it's a free download. If I didn't get on with it at least I wouldn't be out of pocket. I try out quite a few iPhone apps on that basis.

We Rule starts off with a tutorial to give you the basics of building a kingdom. It's simple and it's sedate rather than fast-paced action here. That's not necessarily a complaint, just an observation. Sometimes you want something a little more serene than normal! As part of the tutorial you are encouraged to visit a neighbour and order something from one of their shops. This was my first problem as I didn't have any friends playing the game. I did, however, ask if anyone on Twitter would add me as a friend and quickly gained a couple of neighbours. I even ended up convincing my wife to play, which wasn't too hard as she was a Farmville addict at one point too.

In a strange way I actually enjoy levelling up just to see what I'm going to get next.

I don't really get the point of neighbouring kingdoms. I can visit and order something from their shops and, as far as I can tell, that brings better prices when they come to sell their goods. They return the favour too, so I get better prices, but there's no actual communication between kingdoms. I could use the Plus framework to send messages, but it would be much easier to be able to do it from within We Rule itself. The lack of communication and the need to have neighbours kind of encourages you to add random people to your friends list. That's not too much of a problem since you don't speak to them, but I'm not so sure that's the point of having a friends list in the first place.

Once you have a kingdom and friends it's a case of just building things up, reaching the next level, getting some new buildings and crops. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The kingdom doesn't take much maintenance, so it's not as much of a drudge as it sounds. In a strange way I actually enjoy levelling up just to see what I'm going to get next. And there's an odd satisfaction in setting my kingdom out so that it looks good and makes sense as a place to live.

I remember when I played Sim City 2000 on a friend's computer he showed me his biggest city. It had a huge population but none of the roads linked up. He'd figured out that the roads didn't actually have to go anywhere so long as there was a piece of road near every building. Great, but it didn't make sense as a city and that kind of missed the point for me. Same deal with We Rule. I reckon I could plonk the buildings down anywhere I liked and the game would carry on as normal, but I actually want it to look like someone's thought about it. Must be my OCD tendancies.

The fact that you have to be online to play is a little frustrating though. Your kingdom is stored remotely so your neighbours see things as you've done them, but there have been several occasions when both my wife and I are unable to get into our kingdoms because of heavy load on the Plus servers, or just being unable to connect. Not being able to get into a game is normally a source of minor frustration - I'll just come back to it later. In We Rule, however, the crops and manufacturing all happen in real-time. Crops, especially, are annoying, because if you can't get in to harvest them they go off. My wife summed it up last night when she couldn't connect before switching off for the night, "Great, now my crops will go off and I can't plant anything new for the morning."

It will hook the collector in you, and the part of your inner child that's never admitted you still like to build toy towns.

We Rule is a fairly simple kingdom sim. It's sedate, so perfect if you're not looking for hectic action. It's easy to pick up, and there's some social interaction, although this is limited. It will hook the collector in you, and the part of your inner child that's never admitted you still like to build toy towns. If only the connection issues could be sorted out, We Rule would be much more enjoyable to play. As it is, it's fun, but it certainly hasn't earned a permanent home on my iPhone.

Written by Nathan Morgan

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Nathan Morgan writes the Touch Gamer column.

"I review a mixture of established iPhone titles and new releases from across various genres. My reviews place particular emphasis on how each game makes use of the unique potential that the interface of the iPod Touch offers."

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