Swords & Soldiers, a side-scrolling RTS/castle defense hybrid developed by Two Tribes and published by Chillingo, has been released and is available from the app store. Sporting a polished presentation, humorous storylines, and solid gameplay, Swords & Soldiers is a fairly light-hearted treat that meets our expectations.
Swords & Soldiers Pros:
- Terrific and lively cartoon graphics with fun animations
- Arcade soundtrack with an epic feel
- Simple tap/swipe control for intuitive play
- Multiple game modes to enjoy
- GameCenter and Crystal integration for leaderboards and achievements
Swords & Soldiers Cons:
- Character bunching makes targeted selections difficult
- No multiplayer option for iPod/iPhone
Swords & Soldiers offers a fun single player campaign mode, allowing you to take control of each of the game’s three available factions: the Vikings, the Aztecs, and the Chinese. Each campaign features a quirky backstory, as you’ll note right away when the Vikings are compelled to battle over and over again because of issues surrounding their beloved barbecues, rather than the expected nobler causes. Making progress through the campaigns will unlock Berserker Run, Survival, and Boulder Challenges. A Skirmish mode is also available, with selectable difficulties, maps, and gold/mana/worker settings. The iPad version of the game includes a same-device multiplayer mode that lets you square off against a friend in split-screen fashion, though the iPod/iPhone does not contain a similar option.
Gameplay generally revolves around the collection of gold, which allows you to purchase warriors and spells, as well as upgrade your abilities along the way. You start each level with miners only, requiring you to make the strategic decision regarding which warrior types and abilities to purchase. For instance, the Vikings have Berserkers and Axe-Throwers to buy. Each purchase is not immediately available, making you wait several seconds until you can put them into play. Once active, a tap of the button will deploy the appropriate character, sending the meter into refill mode as you wait for the chance to send another guy into action. For their part, the warriors will make their way toward the enemy base, fighting anything that gets in their way. You do not have the ability to control the warriors once released, save for the occasional ability to select their path when faced with a fork. There isn’t much sense in holding off on sending your men, so it’s advisable to mash the buttons when they become active. One of the helpful and strategic features are the spells available to purchase and use provided you have enough self-regenerating mana. A key spell will heal a wounded warrior of your choosing, prolonging his life and effectiveness. It can get quite frantic as you balance purchasing miners to farm more gold, deploy troops to keep a steady stream of pressure on the opposition, and manage spells to give your guys the strength needed to endure.
Graphically, the game has a very polished, cartoon look with great animations and easy-to-select buttons. There are several quick cut scenes interspersed with gameplay, used to move the story forward. A scrollable map along the screen bottom allows you to quickly move to any point, or you can simply swipe the screen to pan. A button in the lower left gives you quick access to the character/spell selection screen, and any purchases will have corresponding buttons near the screen top for quick selection. Your gold count is in the upper left, and mana points reside in the upper right. Deactivated buttons are tinged with red or dulled out, while active buttons shine brightly, making it easy to tell the two apart. Managing the game is a breeze with the simple and responsive controls. The soundtrack has an epic arcade feeling, giving the game additional character and charm that is in keeping with its fun style. We were a bit frustrated by the difficulty in selecting a specific character when they all bunch up, and the lack of some form of multiplayer on the iPod is disappointing, too.
Replay value is pretty good, as you have multiple campaigns, multiple challenges, and a nice Skirmish mode to enjoy, in addition to multiplayer for iPad owners. GameCenter and Crystal integration allows for a bunch of achievements to earn, as well as global leaderboards for Challenge and Survival modes. Multiple profiles allows several players to use the same device while keeping progress and stats separate from one another. Difficulty options further allow you to tailor the game to your liking. Swords & Soldiers certainly retains the feel of a fully-realized game while providing a lot of enjoyment for fans of the genre. Currently on sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99) and $2.99 for the HD version (regularly $4.99), now is as good a time as any to snag this 4-Dimple stud.
Swords & Soldiers Review,