Free Android game of the month - Reviewing Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
Are you ready to continue the epic saga? Do you feel the force within you? After 32 years, the wait is finally over: the Force is finally awakening and we can dive into another episode of possibly the best story ever written. And our levels of midichlorians rise even higher knowing that we have more to enjoy than the new Star Wars movie. EA just released Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes for Android, so you can have your daily dose of masterful Sci-Fi right before or after going to the cinema. And it's a pretty good game for Android, so let's see what it has to offer for fans and casual gamers alike:
Come, join the dark side!
Calm down now, young padawan, there is much to learn before you can see if there truly are cookies on the other side: first you should at least know what is this all about. Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is a classical turn-based battle game with RPG-style combat, something like the battles in most Japanese role-playing games, like the Final Fantasy series. The goal of the game is to collect heroes from both the light and the dark side of the force and progress through a series of battles collecting many kinds of rewards, upgrading your heroes and unlocking new features along the way.
The whole game is set up like a big holotable tournament: according to Wookieepedia , a holotable is "an entertainment and communication device used to play virtual games, watch things, or to establish communication with others beings" in the Star Wars universe. In our case it is used to play these battles against enemies in well-known locations from the saga.
When you first launch the game, you will be greeted by a tutorial that guides you through the first steps of the game and shows you its main features. This makes things a bit simpler, as there is lots to discover. You will see that, at first, you can only play Light Side Battles , where you can set up a team of Light Side characters to defeat teams made of characters from the Dark Side. These battles are against the AI, but once you reach player level 8, you unlock the Squad Arena , the first place where you can match up against human opponents and their teams.
Collect and conquer
When going to battle you always need to set up a team of maximum six characters, and this requires a great deal of strategic skills. All characters have their specific strengths and weaknesses, special abilities and upgrades, so a lot depends on your team setup. Once in battle, the characters take turns to attack: each character has a basic attack and one or more special abilities: these special abilities can be used only once in a couple of turns. The goal of each battle is, of course, to destroy all enemy characters while at least one of your own survives.
If you win a battle, you get a series of rewards, which can be used to make your characters even stronger. You can get training droids that can be used to increase the characters' levels, making them more powerful. Gear is also important: by assigning items to the characters' gear slots you can increase their stats, and once you fill all their slots, you can upgrade their gear level - do this a couple of times and the character gains a new ability.
You can also find character shards: these are specific for each character and if you find a full set, you can unlock a new character. Or you can upgrade the star count of a character you already own - the more stars it has, the stronger it is. There are also four kinds of resources you can collect: crystals (used for purchasing Data Cards , Energy refreshes, Shipments items and to reset cooldown timers), credits (required to upgrade character's level, abilities and star count), energy (required to fight battles - it refreshes by one point in 6 minutes) and sim tickets (used to instantly complete again battles previously completed with a perfect score and gain new rewards).
The master of cards
In the Data Cards section you can purchase two different kinds of cards (or packs of them): Chromium and Bronzium. These, when bought, randomly drop characters, character shards, gear or credits. Once every 20 minutes you can get a Bronzium card for free, but the more powerful Chromium cards can only be bought for crystals.
And this is where we get to the most problematic part of the game: crystals are really hard to come by and it takes a long time to obtain a large amount of them. But, of course, you can buy packs of them for real money. In the early stages of the game this is not a real issue, as you are full of energy. However, later on the game becomes time-limited, as energy regenerates slowly and you won't have many crystals to buy energy refreshes. We can only hope that EA made a fair game and things balance out reasonably well in the long run, meaning that you won't be obliged to spend money to have fun with the game.
Besides cards, you can also buy Shipment items : these are character shards, training droids and different kinds of gear - if you need something badly, you might get it here instead of fighting battles in the hope of stumbling upon it. Shipments are locked in the beginning, as many other parts: for example, Squad Arena , where you can fight against human opponents, unlocks at level 8, but Events unlock at level 52, so it takes quite a while to experience every aspect of the game.
Since this is a Star Wars game, we have to mention the features related to this universe. Fortunately, the developer, EA had no problem obtaining the rights, so everything is really authentic: you can collect and fight with the well-known heroes and villains from the movies and visit scenes you have only seen on the big screen. The music, the graphics, the sounds and the characters are all familiar and well-designed. The game offers a real challenge, and not only in length: the battles get harder and harder, and if that's not enough, you can replay every one of them in a special hard mode, where you can earn special character shards.
Download: Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
2015 is a great year for Star Wars fans: the saga returns with a long-awaited seventh episode, while gamers got a good fighting game for our Android tablets and smartphones, that can take a hell of a lot of our time. Even exploring the main features takes half an hour. What EA managed to do with Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is to create a nice blend of card collecting, RPG and action-packed fighting, all enveloped in a visually appealing package.
Being the software giant it is, Electronic Arts will probably keep pumping new content in the game, so we can safely say that we won't get bored by it for a long time. Its replay value is huge, as you can take a couple of battles anytime and you can always tinker with the gear and different abilities of your heroes.
Maybe the only problem of the game is the presence of microtransactions, also known as "in-app purchases". We strongly hope that this won't destroy the gameplay experience in the long-run (anyone remember Dungeon Keeper on Android?) and will only provide extras instead of being mandatory. We are really looking forward to seeing a great game from EA that is completely free of all kinds of in-app payments, but still being a quality product. You know, just for the heck of it. But until then, take out your lightsabers and go save the galaxy once more!