Iron Force Review

When it comes to the big question of whether in-app purchases are good or bad for iOS gaming, opinions are mixed. Many argue that IAPs are not a bad thing, and if you don’t care for the title you are not forced to spend money. On the other side of the argument, some see IAPs as an egregious attempt to make a quick buck. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle.

In a game you like, spending a few dollars on IAPs usually isn’t a bad decision. We can’t expect to play games for free and get the full-experience in return. It comes down to the simple idea that developers need money to make games, and if they don’t bring in dollars they won’t be able to make more games or support their existing ones. IAPs aren’t always welcome, but they’re fine when they’re done right.

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Why the tangent on IAPs in a review of Iron Force? Because Iron Force is nothing but in-app purchases. The game is so IAP-dependent it took me a week to play 50 short matches. Playing matches is dependent on a gas tank (akin to CSR Racing) with each tank of gas allowing you to play three matches– approximately ten minutes of gameplay. Once your tank is empty, you have to wait 30 minutes for a complete refill or use 10 diamonds ($1 worth) to refill automatically. I’m not a math wiz, but that breaks down to 30 minutes of actual gameplay for every two hours or $12 worth of diamonds for two hours of gameplay. You do earn diamonds while playing, but they accumulate very slowly: After 50 matches I had 13 diamonds.

To simply review a game based on stats and figures isn’t completely fair. I paid $15 for the PS Vita version of Limbo and beat it in three hours. I don’t have any regrets because the experience was so immersive and enjoyable that price per hour didn’t matter. Unfortunately, Iron Force is not so immersive or enjoyable. It’s bland and boring. The four maps are small squares with inconsequential buildings. A firefight between tanks turns into whoever fires first wins. There is virtually no strategy– even hiding behind a building will leave you susceptible to rockets. Attempting to evade the gunfire is futile, because your tank moves at a snail’s pace and fires at even slower rate.

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Iron Force is obviously a game about tanks and as expected there are tanks to choose from although I use the word “choose” liberally, because there really isn’t much choice. It takes diamonds to get access to all but one of the tanks. Prices range from 20 diamonds ($2) to 1,000 diamonds ($75, but currently $50 with a bonus promo). That’s right, $50 for one tank. That amount of money doesn’t even give you unlimited gameplay.

There are opportunities to earn cash, which does allow you to buy one tank, but the cash is primarily used to upgrade tanks. Upgrades via cash come rather easy, but without diamonds you’ll have to wait up to three hours for these upgrades to take place. I upgraded all features of my tank and could barely notice a difference. Upgrades were even more negligible when competing against top-tier tanks, making the $50 tank almost a must to be truly competitive.

Iron Force is a game that is mired with gameplay issues, but these issues are trumped by an offensive in-app purchase system. Expecting gamers to pay $12 for two hours of bland gameplay and then $50 for a tank is not going to win many arguments in support of in-app purchase in iOS games.

  • mmm

    Constant loss of connection with server means loss of $ and diamonds mid battle. You need to keep paying high price for faulty performance?
    Just deleted from iPad.

  • bsmith717

    It’s sad that all the whiners are the ones posting about this game and also from every review I’ve read, reviewing it…

    Sure it’s a game with a simple goal…to kill more than you are killed and the graphics are reminiscent of those from Mario Kart on Super Nintendo. Yes, chillingos servers are almost alarmingly unmatched for the traffic and amount of gameplay that’s being demanded of them. Yes, IAP’s can and have been dicey. And again yes… I have kicked over a trash can because I was dropped from a team battle!

    But what I personally have found is that as much as all of the above things suck they are things that I’ve accepted and am prepared to negotiate because this game truly entertains me on more than just that megolomaniac level we all have inside to a varying degree.

    First off, blowing up your foe makes ya feel good. From what I’ve read online all the reviewers would have you believe only the first tank to attack wins that match. This is not only absolutely false but quite kinda ballsy for the all to say. I mean do they think were all so dumb we can’t imagine perhaps that trying to move around, to the side or flamo your opponent during an engagement might

  • Bwright

    My problem with it is that I am an Old School gamer..I would rather EARN my upgrades than BUY them. Now, if they had arenas to play in that only allowed certain grades of tank with certain armor and firepower, then it would be more fair and much more fun. But they don’t, which means you can be matched up with some guy that spent lots of money and has a tank that will kill you in two shots. Not much fun when you have zero kills at the the end of a map and that one guy has 14…all because it would take about seven shots to kill him…but only two for him to kill you.
    Then there are what I call the “Cheater Bots” Indestructible tanks that only require a single shot to take out your tank, and speed that no other tanks seem able to match. They have armor that even three shots barely scratch and ae impossible to beat.
    All in all, it has the potential to be a fun game…except for the horrible mismatches.It draws you in by allowing you to compete at first…matching you with the smaller tanks. But once you climb in rank, you hit that wall where you HAVE to spend money just to compete. Even then, unless you spend massive amounts of money to play a FREE game, or acquire a hack/cheat for the game…you will never truly be able to compete.

  • mrjmg

    Well things haven’t gotten any better with the IAP. In the Android version at least, the top tanks (Pavo, Scorpius) are 4500 gems. The largest pack of gems you can buy is 1,650 for £70 in UK or $99 (£58) in the US and you would need 3 of those packs. Therefore you are looking at £210 or $297 for a top tank and you would spend that or more again to upgrade it fully. If you don’t pay to speed up the upgrades, it will take about 9 months waiting time – up to 6 days per level and there are dozens in 5 different categories.

    The mismatches in tanks is as bad as ever and makes you wonder if the owners of big one shot tanks have spent an awful lot of time, money or both getting there.

    The game is enjoyable when the mismatches aren’t so bad, but there’s one thing that highlights Chillingo’s priority which is the charge they impose if a player wants to change their flag and/or username – they want £2 for the privilege. They also buy 5 star ratings with a free tank of fuel – so don’t believe the high ratings.

    At the end of the day, it is possible to play the game without spending real money, but you can spend quite a lot of time as canon fodder. I understand that it’s a lot harder to get on as a new player in the iOS version – they use different servers between iOS and Android.

    Try it for yourselves, you don’t have to spend money.