Trade Nations is a new freemium title that blends aspects of time management with resource collection, evocative of games such as Farmville and Age of Empires. Your task in this game is to create a small village, collect, sell and trade resources whilst transforming your quaint settlement into a bustling productive city.
Resources are the main staple of this game and are required for building, trading and creating different wears. All actions within the game reward you with experience points which level you up once you have reached a desired amount. Higher levels allow you to produce extra buildings which in-turn allows you to collect a variety of different resources with the process continuing throughout. These buildings, as well as other decorations require gold coins which are earned by selling resources at the general market.
Visiting friends’ towns and subsequently buying or trading with them can also lead to a full purse of currency. A lot of items in the game can only be purchased using the premium currency of magic beans. These can be earned in small quantities by leveling up or by downloading specific paid and free apps from the App store. From the word go, completing set tasks such as owning a specific number of buildings will unlock achievements for jujuPlay, Trade Nation’s very own social gaming network. From here you can perform all the expected tasks such as posting your awards to Facebook and Twitter for bragging rights. Whilst playing through this game I couldn’t help but be amazed by the animations that accompany almost every area of gameplay. Villagers can be seen farming, mining and logging amongst other numerous jobs and it’s truly lovely to watch them.
The main problem with this title lies in the amount of time spent waiting around; an issue that seems to plague all games of this type. Although your town’s inhabitants continue to work even whilst you are away from the App, it often takes numerous days, or the spending of premium currency to advance very far. Currently Trade Nations falls into the same trap as many other time-management games, were gameplay is reduced to only a minute or so a day as you wait for your villagers to complete their jobs. On top of this, prices within the marketplace – which rely on supply on demand – seem to consistently be at an all time low and you don’t receive very much money from the sale of your goods. The game boasts over 60 buildings and decorations, albeit only a handful of these are actually functional and some of the better decorations can only be purchased with magic beans.
Trade Nations holds lots of promise but fails in similar areas to the games that have passed before it. This is a shame as it does try to break new ground and doesn’t feel like just a rehash of other popular titles in this genre. Going forward this game could be turned around dramatically just by tweaking the length of time it takes to complete tasks. I also think it would benefit from the inclusion of one of the iPhone’s bigger social gaming networks such as Game Center or even OpenFeint. Amplified Games have stipulated that App Store ratings keep the updates coming, so it’s fair to expect some extra content in the future.