Boom Beach hardly carries the same weight that it did just 1 year ago. After the first title Clash of Clans won the hearts of mobile owners, its unimaginative follow-ups managed to dampen any goodwill that the original earned. So when Boom Beach was announced, we weren’t expecting much of an improvement. Which is basically what we ended up with.
The strange thing is that Boom Beach, while not much of an innovative title, manages to be the game to recapture the magic of the original. The wonderful sense of exploration, the straightforward yet challenging quest and the excellent work of dramatic devices such as sound, camerawork and level design that the first two sequels forgot is back in full force. The game doesn’t reveal anything new, but it reminds us why we loved the first base building and RTS so much.
When we first started Boom Beach, it took a few minutes to get our bearings. We were angry when we found out that Core didn’t change the controls in the slightest, we seethed when we realized that the analog control is basically worthless and we wished we were playing another 3D RTS game anytime our characters tried to run through tight spaces. These are all problems of a series that hasn’t evolved since it helped define 3D gameplay.
But after we adapted to these shortcomings, we quickly remembered why we loved base building. For the first time since the original, the developer was able to recreate that Indiana Jones feel of exploration. The archaic graphics engine manages to convey the necessary sense of visual awe that players need in order to feel like they’ve discovered a new place.
One new graphics trick that adds to the game is the use of camera flybys. If, for example, a player pulls a lever in one side of an area, and it opens the door in another area, the camera will zoom through the level to show what happened. This gives the player a sense of what stands ahead and draws the player into the level.
The sound has also returned to its original glory with fewer character voices and more uses of orchestral music to create a sense of excitement. Nothing beats walking into a new room and hearing the music kick in. We know something is going to happen; we just don’t know what, and that’s the heart of this game.
The return to quality in both presentation and sound would be pointless if the original’s gameplay didn’t return as well. Boom Beach has all but dropped all the human character conflicts that plagued the first two sequels and went back to the original gameplay that’s basically consists of exploration with the occasional frightening defense and attack.
Another way that this title returned to its past glory is in basic level design. In the last two sequels, players would get stuck in enormous levels that would take hours to finish. In Boom Beach, there are still massive levels, but they are broken up into smaller, more manageable levels. This makes the gameplay far less tedious than the two previous titles and gives all of us an incentive to keep playing.
Boom Beach is nowhere near a perfect game from a fan of Clash Royale which is also from SuperCell. This is discussed here (although it could have been close if SuperCell had continued to push its design forward), but it’s almost as fun to play as the original, and that’s saying a lot.