Narcos: Cartel Wars (iOS) is a strategy game based on the popular Netflix drama Narcos developed by FTX Games. Two seasons in, the series goes into deceased kingpin of Colombia’s Medellin Cartel Pablo Escobar’s rise to power and eventual death at the hands of military and law enforcement.
Needless to say, this isn’t a show for children at all, but the game is marketed as a teen and up title and uses an all ages genre that has flourished on mobile. The gameplay is similar to hundreds of mobile strategy games. If you’re familiar with Game of War, the Zynga games on Facebook, Forge of Empires or browser-based strategy games in general you’ll get into Narcos very easily.
You establish buildings that give you resources needed to further build you camp—wood, stone, money, and ahem…”product”—and upgrade those buildings further. You’ll also need to build storage to hold more materials. It’s not the most unique approach, but it does have that hook that will keep you playing. The other resource in the game is gold—the pay to play element in the game which can help in accelerating construction and training of foot soldiers.
While there are in-game methods of getting gold such as completing missions and six hourly rewards and you can get gold by viewing ads, the quickest way is still paying for gold. Outside of that, you’ll be doing a lot of grinding in building your crime empire in Narcos.
Another important element in this game is defeating other players. At the start, their bases—or fincas—will be out of distance. You’ll need to spend money to open more of the map and other bases to get the opportunity to open more of the map and thus expand your empire.
Graphically, the game is 2D and colorful and the artwork captures the main characters and sicarios very well. It’s not a particularly resource heavy game for your smartphone or tablet.
The grinding makes Narcos very tedious very quickly. While you can put the game down to allow resources to accumulate and you’ll get a notification from the app to return, you will eventually abandon the game when it dawns on you that you’re going to need to shell out a couple of dollars—or more—to actually advance in the game without having to sink a lot of time into it.
That aside, it’s a fun game that is very easy to get into. The tutorial doesn’t eat up a lot of time as it’s in the form of learn as you play tips. If you’re a fan of Netflix’s Narcos or just like easy strategy games, I say try it out. You might just stick around, but you’ll notice that some people have long since bailed on it and left their camps vacant in the early levels. RATING: 3.5/5