Facebook Game Faceoff: Empires & Allies vs Army Attack

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Tending to crops in FarmVille or building your own real estate empire in Millionaire City sure is relaxing, but sometimes hardcore and casual gamers alike just want to see something blow up. (What can I say? This is America.) In response to growing list of hardcore-skewed military strategy games like Kabam's Kingdoms of Camelot and Backyard Monsters by Kixeye, Zynga and Digital Chocolate have released Empires & Allies and Army Attack, respectively. Both games are shooting (get it?) for the hearts of the same crowd: the casual Facebook gamers. Welcome to the first ever Games.com Facebook Game Face-off, where we pit two contending Facebook games against one another for you to decide which reigns victorious once and for all.
Army AttackEmpires & Allies
Let's break this contest down into the three elements that gamers generally tend to look for in their strategy combat Facebook games. First, of course, is the combat (or blowin' stuff up as we elegantly put it). Next is the city building and resource management. And third is essentially why this genre of games has become so popular: player vs player combat. Ready .... Fight!

E&A Combat
Blowin' Stuff Up:
Empires & Allies handles combat in its own dedicated mini game of sorts. Whether you engage an enemy in the campaign or a friend by invading their empire, combat is handled in sort of a split screen representation of the units you sent into battle vs the units you either chose to attack or, in the case of the single-player campaign, the AI opponent randomly chooses. Battles, which are fully animated and turn based, are decided based on how each unit performs against another in what essentially amounts to a more sophisticated game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Army Attack combat
Army Attack, on the other hand, deals with combat directly on the playing field where cities are built. In fact, the entire playing field houses both attack units and structures, and destroying structures is part of what the game is all about. This is far more faithful to traditional strategy games yet it still revolves around turn-based exchanges that expel Energy. Unlike E&A, this game deals strictly with land units, so there is far less comparison between units involved. Each unit has a range in which it can attack adjacent units, and each time you move a unit it exhausts one Energy. Though, the more units you have in range of an opposing unit, the more of your forces will attack that lone opponent at the cost of one Energy.

E&A City
Commanding and Conquering:
Empires & Allies isn't far different from CityVille in how it handles city building. So much so that cities exist almost separately from combat, only coming into play during combat when an empire is invaded. Players must build residences to increase their population, which dictates what military buildings they can create and thus military units. You also must create resource generating buildings like Farms, Lumber Mills, Oil Refineries and Ore Mines to provide you with resources necessary to create the advanced military units, which are placed around your structures to defend them from invasion. There are five types of Ore, and each empire only yields one type, which spurs trade amongst players for the Ores they can't access.

Army Attack HQ
Army Attack focuses more heavily on unit placement, defense and combat, so there is only one true resource: Supplies. This general resource is used to heal units that are damaged as well as supply captured towns in return for Coins and other goods. To restore Supplies, you must place Drop Zones in your conquered regions, and assign them jobs of varying times and yields. Defeating enemy forces also drops Supplies. And aside from the buildings players must create in order to build advanced military units, there aren't cities to speak of except for your HQ and those cities that you conquer or save from the enemy.

E&A Invasions
Not-so-Friendly Competition:
Empires & Allie's Neighbor Invasions is the crux of PvP in the game. Once you reach Level 6, you have the option to either invade a friend's empire or help it. Invading it allows you to choose and area that will yield the most resources, and attack it using your units compared to whatever defenses the opponent has in place. If you defeat the enemy, you will automatically collect resources from that invaded spot every few hours, or until the player or their friends kick you out. Invading more players increase your Infamy and unlocks special abilities you can use in combat. Of course, this all happen asynchronously.

Unfortunately, there isn't much to be said at the moment of Army Attack in the PvP department. You can't invade your friends' HQ nor can you engage them in combat, but you can always help them out with nifty air strikes against their AI enemy. Perhaps PvP will be added to the game later on, but at the moment it's nowhere to be found.

Both E&A and Army Attack offer deep strategic combat and interesting takes on conquering territories or establishing empires. However, the crux of any combat strategy game--even on Facebook--is player vs player battles. And seeing how Army Attack has yet to include the feature (though, it does allow players to help one another), we declare Empires & Allies the winner of this first Facebook Game Face-off. And now is the moment you've all been waiting for: It's time for you to decide the victor.



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