Great Match 3 Game For Anyone Who Loves The Genre
Any fan of the match 3 puzzle genre should check this title out because it offers a great gameplay experience that is some of the best this genre has to offer. Individuals who are unfamiliar with the match 3 genre should also give this game a try since it's fun, intuitive and easy to learn how to play.
Excellent Gameplay Design With the Tutorial Built Right In
The game itself offers what is essentially a miniature tutorial both at the start of the game and whenever a new gameplay mechanic is introduced. These small learning moments only pop up when relevant to the context of the individual level and are too short to be boring.
Many games either force players to suffer through long tutorial levels which are completely unnecessary for those experienced with the genre or offer little to no guidance at all, failing to cater to new players. Cradle of Rome 2 strikes the perfect balance; it's informative, fast paced and never condescending.
Goals Galore -- There's Always Another Mountain to Climb
One of the strengths of the match 3 puzzle is also one of its weakest points; match 3 games usually are what they are without offering much more incentive for players other than the enjoyment of clearing boards for the sake of it or reaching a new high score. This repetitive gameplay can easily cause players to lose interest in the game unless they have a particular love of the match 3 puzzle itself.
Cradle of Rome 2 cleverly keeps players engaged by adding in goal oriented elements to the mix, giving players a reason for clearing board after board of match 3 puzzles in service to a greater goal within the storyline. This makes the match 3 genre more accessible for players who feel they must have a reason to play and serves to make the game a downright addiction for those who just love a good match 3 puzzle on its own. Booting up this game is guaranteed to make the hours fly by.
More Than Just Match 3 Puzzles -- A Variety of Different Layers to Enjoy
Another area where the developers really struck gold is in the seeming randomness of it all. Players never really know what kind of challenges the next level has to offer, and this keeps players on their toes. Variation of board structure, power ups and required elements keep the game feeling new for hours of gameplay. The game never strays too far from the basic game mechanic though, which is also the key to this game's success.
The theme of building up the Roman Empire is really played well in this game. Players literally start with nothing but a nice piece of empty land and then build from there. Objects in the match 3 puzzle include buckets of water, gold and silver coins, lumber, hammers, bombs, leaves and more. As these objects are matched, players get to keep these resources to meet the needs of their growing empire.
Initially, money is needed to purchase plans for a well. Once the well is constructed, the resource needs change depending on the level. Simply matching any three adjacent objects is not the key to success if your goal is to meet the water needs of your people, for example. Gotta match those buckets in order to get water for your people!
When the plans are purchased, players are presented with a puzzle to solve. These puzzles vary from simple jigsaw styles to more unusual types such as a puzzle where players must rotate a variety of pieces in a bulls eye pattern until they match up to form a picture. On all of these puzzles players are given the option to skip after a certain amount of time passes. This keeps the game moving regardless of whether or not players are interested in playing these minigames.
The requirements for each level grow more difficult as the game progresses. Initially, it's good enough to simply clear the board but in later levels players are introduced to special squares on the board that can only disappear once a match has been made on that spot.
Other special spots include locked squares and squares that require multiple matches in order to be broken. This special game mechanic adds a unique strategic element to the typical match 3 style gameplay.
Polished and Pleasing to the Eye -- Wonderful Production Makes This Game Easy on the Senses
is colorful and skillfully done and the effects such as water and fire are particularly breathtaking. The puzzle boards themselves look clear and attractive, making it easy to distinguish from individual puzzle pieces. Even after staring at the board for several rounds the game remains clear and easy to see which is essential for any match 3 puzzle game.
Campy Storyline is Ultimately Underwhelming
The storyline of Cradle of Rome 2 lacks some of the oomph of other modern game titles. The idea of two orphan twins being found and suckled by a she-wolf doesn't really make much sense, especially since we see other humans around the children at the time during the cutscene, rendering the mercy of the wild animal unnecessary. Fortunately, that part of the story is relatively unimportant. Perhaps this plot was actually drawn from the myths surrounding the origins of the Roman Empire. This reviewer would need to brush up on their Roman history in order to give a definitive answer.
In the long run the storyline is completely subservient to the gameplay and should not detract players from thoroughly enjoying this game.
Conclusion -- A Very Worthwhile Addition to Any Gaming Library
Cradle of Rome 2 would make an excellent addition to an existing match 3 gaming library or a wonderful introduction to this addictive genre. The large number of levels and the variation of gameplay gives this title a lot of replay value. The campy storyline is ultimately forgettable but the game more than makes up for this shortcoming with impressively immersive gameplay.
Review by Alice Flynn
Alice Flynn is a gaming enthusiast and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently obsessed with obscure foreign dramas, making tofu taste edible and the latest, greatest computer games.
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