Gaming

Maintaining My OCD: A Review of Supercell’s ‘Boom Beach’

‘Just remember to exercise patience and hey, who knows, maybe you’ll get the chance to take out my village. Good luck.’

I don’t know the exact date that I began playing Clash of Clans on my iPhone, but I do know that I’ve been maintaining my village since Thanksgiving 2010. Before then, I played the hell out of the games that inspired Clash of Clans, particularly Warcraft and Starcraft, the latter of which ate up way too much of my time as a junior high school student. What I’m trying to convey here is that, yes, I have quite a history with real-time strategy games. So when I realized that my iPhone could handle playing RTS titles that were also free to download, I had to get involved with one.

Enter my Clash of Clans phase that remains in effect today, though it’s not with quite the same amount of gusto as even a year ago. Basically, I have grown tired of the fact that if I don’t put buy anything extra in the game, I’m screwed. I’ve been treading water with my village for what feels like forever even as I try to take advantage of quicker resource production through cheaper gem costs. I’ve done the same with the shields to no avail. Maybe one day I’ll either beat the entire campaign, muster up the courage to fight more human opponents, or just get rid of the game altogether.

But then I stopped being stubborn and looked into Clash of Clans‘ developer, Supercell, to see if they had any other, similar games available. Sure enough, they do, and I started building an entirely new village in Boom Beach. On the surface, it is everything you’d assume it is—a RTS title wherein you collect resources, fight against computer and human opponents, and slowly-but-surely upgrade your village so that you can take down anyone dumb enough to mess with your squad.

Where Boom Beach establishes its own identity is the setting and batch of characters. You’re plopped on an island with a small naval team, villagers ready to collect wood and gold, and plenty of space to build up your defense line of sniper towers, mortars, mines, unmanned machine guns… you get the point. When you’re not taking care of your village, you’re exploring the archipelago in which you reside to take islands back from the evil Blackguard (aka your main opponent) to free “native” villagers. With every island you recover, you’ll get an hourly rate of free gold and, in some cases, lumber and similar resources if you take over a resource-specific island.

But here’s the tricky part about Boom Beach: Whereas in Clash of Clans you embark on a campaign completely removed from human opponents, those human opponents are embedded in the archipelago right beside the Blackguard. That means you can go about your campaign, doing your damnedest to take down the Blackguard to reclaim islands, but some jackass who wants to ruin your day/winning streak will do so if he or she pleases. When I started playing a few weeks ago, I decided that I didn’t want to mess with anyone else, because I figured that they wouldn’t mess with me. I try to follow the same concept in Clash of Clans, mostly because if you destroy someone’s village, then they have every right to come at you with all the rage and frustration that I’ve often felt playing that game.

Despite the fact that I, so far, have captured and lost a few resource bases to human opponents in Boom Beach, it doesn’t seem quite as annoying as it is in Clash of Clans. Maybe Supercell figured out how to keep it balanced in their latest game, or maybe it’s the fact that fewer people are playing it, thereby lowering the chance for anyone to be a jackass. But that can’t be it, because I see plenty of human-owned islands throughout the archipelago. Maybe people are just being, erm, nicer? Or maybe they’re afraid of my line of defense—note: they shouldn’t be, because it’s pretty weak at the time of my writing this.

What I’m most worried about with Boom Beach is inevitably running into the same wall I’m facing with Clash of Clans. Right now, I’m very much enjoying the variety of warriors/soldiers in my arsenal while figuring out how I should use them, whether a specific combination works best, etc. Currently, I have two ships full of foot soldiers (aka Riflemen) and two ships full of rocket-launcher carrying women called Zookas. I toyed with the aptly titled Heavy characters—they carry huge machine guns and take a lot of damage—but they’re too slow and don’t cause that much damage. However, I have been upgrading their skills, so maybe it’s time I switch things up.

I also have to point out the fact that I was a bit concerned about the music you hear while looking over your village. For what it’s worth, I feel like it’s a hair (or two) too close to some of the tunes Nobuo Uematsu created for Final Fantasy VII. Here’s the thing: Some of you may think that’s a good thing because it so closely resembles a classic game’s equally classic soundtrack. However, I stand by the fact I think it’s too similar, even if I do low-key enjoy it.

All that being said, Boom Beach is absolutely another victory for Supercell. It’s a whole lot of fun, it looks fantastic, and it’s ridiculously easy to get hooked, especially if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder in one way or another. That may seem like a joke, but seriously, it feels great knowing I can keep everything in check in my lil’ village, thereby maintaining any frustrations you may receive from a game where you have little to no control. Just remember to exercise patience and hey, who knows, maybe you’ll get the chance to take out my village. Good luck.

Score: 85/100