Legend: Rising Empire Blends, Simplifies RTS & City Building

In Short: NetEase's newest game, Legend: Rising Empire, brings the real time strategy and city building and management genres together into a cohesive package, while simplifying both elements to make an easy-to-digest game. In the basic flow of the game, you'll build out and manage your empire and its subjects, then engage in battles for profit or land, or in self-defense. This flow repeats ad infinitum, with new details being added to the mix by way of unlockable items, units, and other goodies, along with new lands to conquer and new enemies to stomp. The city building aspect of it is done almost as simply as would be possible without taking away from the player experience, and the real-time strategy part of the game boils down to you directing your various groups of units within your army, and telling certain special units when to use their powerful skills and where to aim them. The game is available for free in the Play Store right now, weighs in at a relatively modest 1.1GB in total, and lacks sophisticated graphics, meaning that even with frantic action going on, most modern devices and some older flagships shouldn't struggle with the game.

Background: The way that this game meshes together battles and management to bounce you almost seamlessly from one to the other is definitely worth mentioning, and is one of the key aspects here. This isn't a super-involved city builder that will require advanced math or breaking out scratch paper for planning, and the battles depend more on taking care of and recruiting enough units than on your abilities as a strategist. The product of all of that careful transitioning is a game that gets out of your way and serves up the core experiences it advertises. Avid managers with a bit of fighting skill will be well on their way soon after starting. You start the game off serving under a corrupt and unjust king, but when you give him his just desserts, you end up taking his place and all of his responsibilities. You'll have to recruit and train battle units, manage your city to ensure your citizens are never hungry, and reap resources and taxes in order to continue building things out. The great thing about this format is that players who want to expand viciously and take over the world are taken care of just as well as those who wish to preside over a quiet and mostly peaceful settlement. After a while, you'll choose to focus on industry and innovation, making money, or warmongering, each of which has its own benefits and pitfalls, and will set the tone for the rest of your time with the game.

Impact: Those looking for a full and rich experience that just happens to be on mobile will be a bit disappointed; with around 40 types of buildings and simple gameplay conventions, this is definitely a lunchbreak affair. That isn't altogether a bad thing in the mobile gaming space, and those who want a game they can pick up and engross themselves in for ten or fifteen minute blocks will find a lot to love here. The city building and management is a much heavier element than the real-time strategy battling here, but if you're into either one, you'd be remiss not to give this free game a try.

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