One of the biggest titles in iOS Turn-Based Strategy games, ironically enough named Great Little War Game, has finally come out with the sequel, Great Big War Game, and this time, Rubicon isn’t messing around. Including 50 single player campaign missions, a whole slew of skirmish maps, Pass & Play gameplay, and probably the biggest feature; Asynchronous Online Multiplayer. Great BIG War Game, indeed.
For those of you familiar with GLWG, Great Big War Game is basically more of the same. But those those of you who love GLWG, that is in no way a bad thing. At all. Great Big War Game picks up where the updates for GLWG left off, with more war advancing escapades from the General, Jenkins, and this time, a new female character, Candy. You’re also outfitted with more units, more vehicles, and, in general, just a whole lot more. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to experience the great gameplay of GLWG in the past, Great Big War Game is a turn-based strategy game that has you going up against the enemy, running a muck in turn-based warfare. It’s gameplay is simple enough that newcomers to the genre can dive right in, but gets complex enough that hardcore fans of TBS gameplay will still have a challenge. And now, with Online MP, you’ll be able to have even more endless replay value, with players of all skill types.
Now, along with the 50 Single Player Campaign stages, Skirmish Mode and Online MP Mode both have quite a few maps to play with. The game comes with 15 Maps, and has 3 more Map Packs available for purchase through IAP. Each of the Map Packs costs $1.99, and including a little something special. The War Chest Pack gives you 15 maps, and 150 Battle Points, which are points that you can earn in-game to permanently upgrade your troops for Campaign Mode, and clear the Fog of War. Map Pack 1 gives you 20 maps, and a new vehicle type, a flame shooting tank, while Map Pack 2 gives you another 20 maps, and a medic who can heal all your troops on the field. Rubicon has already stated that more maps will be added to these Map Packs, so if you purchase them now, you’ll get even more maps for free in future updates. I guess now would be a good time to mention that Rubicon’s support for Great Little War Game has been outstanding, and they have added quite a few maps to that game over the course of it’s time on the AppStore as well, so this isn’t just another empty promise from a developer who’s support has been questionable in the past, or a new-comer to the scene, who promises content, and then later on down the road says that sales we’re adequate to keep the updates coming (which is understandable, but always disappointing).
The Online Multiplayer is handled through Rubicon’s own servers, and even though some might prefer GameCenter, this allows for cross-platform play. That’s right. You can play GBWG online on your iPad against a friend who’s playing on an Android. Soon enough, GBWG will be available for the PC, Mac, as well as the BBPlaybook, which means that there’s the potential of hundreds of thousands of players available for online play. What makes it even better, is that you don’t exactly need to know anyone in order to add friends to your list. Once you type in a name, for example, Paul, all of the gamers who have started their online name with ‘Paul’ will be listed and available to add to your friends list. So even those of you dying to play online, but who don’t know anyone, can still have a fairly good chance of finding online players. Surprisingly enough, I also haven’t run into any issues with the online play. There’s almost always bugs and issues which developers couldn’t have caught during the Beta Testing, but Rubicon has obviously put a lot of time and effort into squashing all the bugs and getting rid of all the issues they possibly could, which is basically unheard of with iOS MP titles.
The controls in GBWG are great, and really, some of the best I’ve seen in a strategy title on the iOS. To move your units, you tap on them, and then tap on where you want to move them to, and the same goes for vehicles, while scrolling the map is done with a one finger drag, and zooming in and out is done by pinching and pulling. To see where your units can attack, you just need to hold down on the unit in question. Your typical TBS controls, I guess. But what makes them stand out is that I’ve never had an instance where my character didn’t move to a location right next to where I wanted it to, I’ve also never had a character shoot an enemy target I wasn’t targeting, and the units have never moved while selected, and while I’ve been dragging the map around. Responsive controls remove a lot of un-necessary frustration from games, and here, they’re very smooth and very responsive.
The graphics are a bit cartoony, but the animations are great. The explosions, taking aim and firing, getting hit, running around the maps, it’s all animated beautifully, and even though it is a little cartoony, the game becomes very immersive because of how great it looks and plays. The music and sound effects are also top notch, with some typical war time music, and units calling out ‘On point!’ ‘Bag ‘em & tag ‘em!’ ‘You need me?’ and more, it’s easy to get sucked into their world of obeying orders, and doing what you can for your side in order to win.
With Great Big War Game priced at $2.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy. There’s loads of content with your original purchase, and even more available if you’re wanting to throw a couple more bucks down, and Rubicon is a fantastic developer who has shown awesome support for their previous games, which makes it easy to want to support them in return. The endless play offers up the possibility of GBWG never being removed from your device, and as a sequel of one of the best TBS titles in iOS gaming, that possibility is multiplied by the great gameplay. Rubicon has definitely done it again, and I can’t wait to get knee deep into the online play, and get to learn all of the maps. If you’re a fan of the genre, GBWG is definitely a game you NEED to own. Finding another Strategy game with the amount of charm and astounding gameplay on the iOS is near impossible.
Hex-based strategy games haven’t really been my cup of tea. New World Colony, Conquest!, Neuroshima Hex – none of them really did it for me, and with Neuroshima Hex being GameShark’s iOS GOTY, TouchGen’s runner up for Best Board Game, and a whole slew of fantastic reviews and press behind it, probably the ‘best of the best’ – I just figured the genre wasn’t really for me. Lucky for me, I was able to have an entirely different experience with Synaptic Wave’s (a 6 person outfit from the Ukraine, and developers of Tesla Wars and Tower Siege) Zombie Quest – Mastermind the Hexes!
Maybe it appeals to me because I’m not a hardcore strategy fanatic, maybe I’ve still got some ‘casual’ gamer left in me from my early 20’s, I dunno, but Zombie Quest really hit’s the mark between casual and hardcore which is usually a difficult balance to achieve for most strategy developing studios, who generally go completely casual, or full-on hardcore within the genre.
With Zombie Quest, you’ll be able to think your way through 5 different enemies, including Pinhead, Dracula, Lecter, Frankenstein and Torquemada, each having 4 different stages with increasing difficulty. The gameplay is simple enough, yet full of strategy. Whenever it’s your turn, you select one of your wolf characters on the screen, and you can either select a spot directly next to them, which will clone your character, and turn any enemy characters that are touching that spot into one of your characters, or you can jump up to 3 spaces away, not cloning your character, but sometimes being able to make it into a group of enemy tiles, resulting in a huge addition to your team. The side with the most characters on the board when there are no more moves left for one of the players, or the board is full, wins.
The addition of power-ups makes the gameplay even more strategic. At first, you’re only able to use a shield, protecting one of your wolfs from becoming an enemy if they move next to your character. The enemy is also given a power-up, in the case of your first enemy, Torquemada, he’s able to use a crane like power-up, removing one character from the board. Once you complete the 4 Torquemada stages, you’re given that power-up, and can use it throughout the rest of the game. Also adding to the game is a special 2 player, side-by-side mode, which lets you play with another player on the same device. With not too many 2-player-1-device games out there, it’s definitely a plus, and was a pretty big surprise to find included with the game.
It’s not really anything that hasn’t been done before, I’m sure, though I’ve never had the pleasure of playing a hex based strategy game that does what Zombie Quest does, with a surprising amount of polish on the animations and graphics, as well as casual gameplay that could easily appeal to hardcore strategy gamers looking for something to blow through, or take their mind off of extremely deathy gameplay.
Zombie Quest also includes GameCenter integration with a total score leader board, and 15 achievements, adding some replay value to the game, but if you’re not really a high-score chaser, or achievement fanatic, the 20 levels don’t really offer up much replay value, and will probably not be a game you dive back into time and time again after completion. However, the time you do spend making your way through the game will be toughly enjoyed, especially if you’re new to the genre, or more of a casual gamer.
With a few fairly deep strategy hex based games in the AppStore, games like Zombie Quest is something we could definitely use more of. If you’re looking for something with loads of depth, and endless replay value, chances are, this is not for you. But priced at $0.99 for the SD version and $1.99 for the HD version, it’s worth snagging if your interested in getting into the genre, are looking for another 2 player on 1 device title, or are interested in something that won’t push your mind to the edge through every stage of the game. With their previous Synaptic Wave releases, the updates have definitely not been in short supply. Hopefully Zombie Quest will get a couple more enemies to take on, or maybe even multiplayer in the future. With the gameplay, it’s easy to see multiple different routes being taken, and hopefully Synaptic Wave will take advantage of that.
It’s not too often you can come across an RPG title which is unique and has an interesting story. Winner of Bytten.com’s ‘Most Addictive’ Game Award for 2012, Fall of Angels, developed by Kevin Mitchell (who previously worked for Eurocom Entertainment Software and IBM) and Lee Pattison, is one of the few RPGs available in the AppStore which falls away from the typical cutesy plots and cartoonish graphics resulting in a terrific turn based/real time RPG with a memorable story, unique graphics, and great gameplay.
Starting off, you’re shown a cut-scene with some sort of object appearing out of nowhere and shooting through the sky, crash landing somewhere off in the distance. Next, there’s a dialogue sequence between a soldier and commander who’s forces are trying to break through the borders of the land where they believe the object has landed. You come in during the battle as Sariel, a member of CEL, an elite worldwide force working for the religious powers within the world of Fall of Angels.
The controls are presented nicely, and easy to use; A floating joystick, run button in the lower right corner, and the menu button in the top right. Battle controls are clean and also very simple to use; Tap on the character you want to use, tap on the action, Attack, Skills, Action or Items, and then tap on the enemy you want to take action against. If you would like to use your typical attack, you can just tap on your character 3 consecutive times, and he’ll automatically attack the enemy.
The fighting is Turn-Based, but only to an extent. Your character’s can only attack after a cool-down, but there is no break in the battle. If you don’t attack right away, you could wind up being hit numerous times before you get a hit in. This makes the battles more action oriented, and pretty unique. Each of the battles you enter is basically voluntary. You’re able to see each of the enemies and animals on the map, so there are no hidden/random battles.
Graphically, Fall of Angels looks like an old-school PC title; 2D sprites set against 3D environments. This does make for some hard to find pathways that are hidden behind trees or walls, but I’ve never wound up feeling lost or stuck. The environments are nicely detailed, and easy to tell apart. Animations are decent enough, though the running animation looks pretty weird, and some of the stances that the characters take look awkward. But it consistently gives you the feeling of an old-school RPG, which I absolutely love.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll be able to collect tools which you can equip and use to complete puzzles, and side-tasks, as well as collect various objects. The interactive puzzles are a nice addition to the game, and even though they take you out of the core gameplay, they don’t distract from the immersion.
Priced at $2.99, but on sale at the moment for $1.99, and available for the iPhone/iPod, you’ll need to play in 2X mode if you’re on your iPad, which is kind of a bummer. The environments don’t wind up being pixilated, but the character sprites do. Hopefully an HD or Universal version will be released in the future. The developers have said that Fall of Angels is only the beginning of a wider story arc that’s already been written, which is great to hear. The AppStore could definitely use more RPG titles like this. If you’re a sucker for old-school RPG games, Fall of Angels has one of the most interesting stories you’ll find in an iOS title, and interesting combat+puzzle mechanics. It’s one you should definitely check out.
Match-3 games are almost as abundant as runners in the AppStore, which makes it hard to find titles within the genre that really stand out. Luckily, there are those few that do. Be-Rad’s latest release, WarGames: WOPR is definitely a title that stands out above the rest. Officially licensed, WarGames centers around the 1980’s Movie by the same name, with you taking control of the WOPR computer.
WarGames: WOPR only has one mode; the Campaign. It takes you through the story of WarGames from the computer’s perspective. You’ll go up against each of the movie’s characters, gaining special powers, and pieces of the launch code.
WarGames is played by connecting groups of 3 or more symbols in order to use that action. On the board are missiles, satellites, + and $ symbols. The missiles attack your opponent, satellites go towards filling up a percentage which, when it hits 100%, gives you a special option, usually giving you health, an extra attack, or placement of power-ups on the board. The “+” symbols regenerate health, and the “$” symbols give you money, which you need in order to use your power-ups which you’ll gain as you progress throughout the game.
As you complete stages, you’ll earn RAM. This RAM is used to purchase and upgrade Tactics, or usable power-ups, which you can use in-game with the money you gain while playing, and Mods, which are permanent bonuses like gaining money with each turn, spawn a powerup tile when clearing chains of 12 or more, gain money instead of health when health is already at 100%, things of this nature. You are able to buy more RAM through the IAP, but it isn’t required to complete the game, and is mainly there if you want a super-powered up computer, or just feel like donating some money to the developers.
The graphics are a simple, retro inspired, minimal style, and the animations fit very well within that fashion. However, the music is more modern, but accompanies the style of the game perfectly. The User Interface is clean, simple and responsive, and with no time limits, you’re able to thoroughly think through your moves, which, like most other match-3 games, does involve some strategy.
WarGames: WOPR is Universal and priced at $0.99. It is supported with GameCenter, having a leaderboard for most Nukes, along with 8 Achievements. It’s also got iCloud support, which is fantastic, considering some of the levels are incredibly challenging, and sharing the saved data between devices is a real time saver. As far as Match-3 games go for the iOS, WarGames is definitely one of the best. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s one title you should check out.
Roguelike games have definitely become a new obsession of mine. After 100 Rogues and Zaga 33, I just can’t get enough of them. A three-man project, Cardinal Quest, just so happens to be the newest roguelike to grace my iPad, and it’s already gotten quite a bit of gameplay out of me.
Starting off, you’re able to choose between one of three different characters; a Fighter, who has strong melee attacks, a Thief, who is agile and can use his speed to get away from enemies quickly, and a Wizard who’s strength is in his spells. You’ll be going after Asterion. A minotaur who crushed the town you were living in when you were young, also captured many of the townsfolk, and turned them into his slaves. Now that you’re older, you’re going after the beast, fighting through swarms of his minions and maze like dungeons.
To control your character, you’ll need to tap in the gameplay area in the direction you want to move. A swipe to move control scheme would be a nice addition, but right now, the tap to move and hold to run controls work well enough. On the right side of the screen, you’ll have your spells, at the bottom, your quick select inventory, and on the left, you can select a map, inventory, and check out your character’s stats. As you make your way through each level of the dungeon, you’ll automatically level up your character by defeating enemies, and gain more spells by exploring and finding them laying around. Your character also automatically equips himself with the strongest equipment he finds, which is a nice addition. No needing to go and manually figure out what items to wear. Once you find stairs to a lower level, all you need to do is tap the center of the screen, and your character will go down to the next level.
Like most other roguelike titles available, Cardinal Quest is done with retro graphics, but even though you’re going through dungeon level after dungeon level, the environments do change enough to stay interesting. Also, the character and enemy sprites are well done, and surprisingly, the equipment that your character wears is shown on his in-game sprite, which is a great addition. Great animations, the nice BGM and cool sound effects complete the atmosphere perfectly. The level design is fairly simple, with no hidden passage ways, no locked doors, but the exploration aspect is still there, and the lack of any hidden areas doesn’t really effect the gameplay. The developers have also said that this is something they’d like to add in the future, so we’ll see.
Unfortunately, unlike most other rogue like titles, there are no stats. Having a stats screen is a big thing for a lot of roguelike fans. Seeing how well you’ve done, how far you’ve gotten, which character you play the best with, ect… is usually a big deal. Thankfully, this is also something that the developers are talking about adding in a future update for the game. But as it is right now, there are no end game stats at all.
Cardinal Quest is a great, fast-paced roguelike title that fans of the genre should definitely check out. Priced at $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy, and one that will fit very nicely between 100 Rogues and Fargoal in any Roguelike folder on your device. Hopefully the game will sell well, and we can see the game become more well rounded, but even as it is now, it’s a game that no roguelike fanatic should be without.
Casual games are a kind of staple of AppStore gaming, especially games that have basically endless replay value and are easy to learn, hard to master. However, within this large group of casual titles lies games that are somewhat more ‘hardcore’, appealing more to veteran gamers than most of the casual games available. Michael Brough’s roguelike title, Zaga 33, happens to be one of these games. For those of you familiar with the latest PC or Mac versions of Zaga 33, you’ll be extremely happy to know that the iOS version is basically a direct port. Scoot the controls over to a touch screen, and viola.
As for those of you who are not familiar with Zaga 33, the whole goal of the game is to get your character, the “@”, through 25 levels of alien filled dungeon rooms, finally winding up at the Alien Cortex, and then defeating it. Now, that might sound all well and good, but what makes the game appeal to more ‘hardcore’ gamers is that it’s the perfect example of a well thought-out, and perfectly executed roguelike title. Randomized room designs, turn-based movement, perma-death (no continues), and every power-up you grab is also randomized, meaning whenever you start a new game, you never really know what items do what until you try them out.
Each time you move your character, all of the enemies within the room will take their move as well. You are able to attack the various enemies, but with each attack, you have the chance of being attacked yourself, and with only 9 hit points, if you find yourself surrounded by 3 enemies, you could wind up dead in 3 moves. You do regain 1 hit point each time you move on to the next room, and there are healing pick ups which give you full health, but since it’s all random, there’s no telling when you’ll be able to find one of these pick ups, or how the enemies in the next room are going to be set up, so most of the time, it’s just best to avoid the enemies at all cost.
There are two control methods for Zaga 33, one lets you touch a spot on the map to move, while the other lets you swipe in the direction you’d like to go. The game also auto-orientates to however you’re holding your device, so portrait and landscape modes are supported. The graphics are done in a fantastic green/purple/red sci-fi retro scheme, and the music is wonderful, adding a ton to the atmospheric feeling of the game.
Each game takes about 5-10 minutes, or even less, which makes Zaga 33 a perfect mobile title. Unfortunately, there is no GameCenter support, which means no leader boards, and no achievements. It would be great to have boards for how quickly you can defeat the Cortex, and even just a handful of achievements would have been a nice addition. But this doesn’t really take anything away from the game. It still gives players the drive to make it to the end, over and over again, trying to better their score by even just one point.
With Zaga 33 being a faithful port of the PC/Mac title, and only priced at $0.99 while being Universal, and quite possibly being the best roguelike title in the AppStore, it’s a must buy for fans of the genre, casual gamers looking for a challenge and even the most hardcore gamers just looking for a quick fix. Michael Brough’s Zaga 33 is a classic, and the iOS gaming community is lucky to have it available for their devices. Hopefully it becomes as much of an iOS classic as it is on the PC+Mac. I’d love to see more from Mr. Brough. It’s easy to tell that tons of energy, work, thought, care and love has gone into both Zaga 33, and his other iOS title, Glitch Tank, and developers with that much passion deserve loads of support. Here’s hoping both titles get the attention that they most definitely deserve.
After the success of Hunters: Episode One, the fantastic sci-fi turn-based strategy title from Rodeo Games, it was no surprise when Hunters 2 was announced. Being a Strategy fanatic, I was extremely excited to get my hands on the release. Unfortunately, because of some badly timed events, and large backup of games, I wasn’t able to get the time to check it out. After playing for 5 hours straight this morning, I’m kicking myself for not having it on my device sooner.
Like Hunters: Episode One, your thrown into a civilization which revolves around contracts. There are no governments, only corporation owned planets, and credits and contracts are the only things that matter. Unlike the first Hunters, Hunters 2 has an actual story line which you can progress through while also having access to daily contracts which you can play to earn more experience and money, helping you make it through the story mode a little easier, while also providing some extra challenge.
Starting off, you’re able to choose between Easy, Normal and Hard difficulties, as well as being able to turn Hardcore Mode on, which makes it so that any team members lost during battle are lost forever. After a back-story dialogue scroll down the screen, you’re thrown into a tutorial mission where you’ll learn the basics of the game while also finding out that your employer wants you dead, presumably because of some information you posses. After all but a total of 3 members of your team have been extinguished. Making your way to the end of the tutorial level, the last 3 members are overrun.
You’re then taken to the ship where you can check out the available menu options, Bridge (where you start your contracts), Comms (where you can connect to Rodeo Games, Facebook, Twitter, and check out GameCenter boards and achievements), Armory (where you’re able to equip your team members), Trade (which is the shop, where you can buy and sell items, as well as purchase new members), Manufacturing (which is where you can create your own weapons and armor) and Settings (which lets you change the difficulty, team color, music and effects volumes, and turn the Blood and Free daily Gifts on or off, as well as reset the campaign).
Each member of your team is able to be outfitted with one weapon, and armor, with both having a major influence on how you play the game with those specific characters, with the armor dictating how many moves they can make per turn, and the weapons you equip possibly taking up more than one movement point. As they level up, more abilities will become available to them, giving your team-mates super human abilities, and extra special moves to help them tear the enemies apart. Since you are able to purchase more members from the shop, even leveled up members, this makes experimenting with weaponry and armor very easy, and adds quite a bit of depth to the already depthy strategic gameplay.
The graphics in Hunters 2 are what you would expect from a sequel. If you’ve played the original Hunters, you’re familiar with the look of the environments and character models. Rodeo Games did definitely make the graphics sharper and more vibrant, with some fantastically created plantlife and outdoor environments added to the many buildings found in the first title. They’ve also added some very nice atmospheric graphic effects and animations to go along with the new graphics, making the game even more immersive than the original. Also accompanying the new graphics is fantastic music and sound effects helping to set the dark and dreary mood perfectly.
This time around, Rodeo Games made Hunters 2 Universal, and with it being priced at $4.99, it’s a fantastic deal, especially considering the endless replay value, and extremely difficult challenges that await players in-game. GameCenter is also supported, with a leader board based on how many contracts you complete, along with 33 hard-to-unlock achievements, both also adding to the insanely high replay value. Rodeo Games has done a fantastic job creating a completely immersive world, and compelling campaign to go along with this amazing game. Hunters 2 has quickly become one of my favorite iOS strategy games, and right now, is definitely in the top 3 on my ‘Best of 2012’ list. It’s one game that strategy fans need to have on their iDevice.
Strategy Games are really hitting their stride in the AppStore, but one of my favorites has always been Tactical Warrior by James Pawliuk. Earlier this week, the two man team consisting of Mr. Pawliuk and Brandon Alter released their 3rd iOS title, LostStar Tactics, a turn-based strategy RPG with some great gameplay, nice graphics, and an interesting story to go along with it. But does it warrant purchasing when so much of the game is identical to Tactical Warrior?
When compared to Tactical Warrior, the whole set-up of the game and gameplay is almost identical. Moving costs stamina, unless you move to an orange tile and each attack or special ability you use costs stamina, while resting offers your character recovery of stamina. Each character, as well as enemy, has stats which you’ll need to learn so that you can know what attacks will work well, and what attacks will result in almost no damage at all. Even the party screen is an almost identical clone of Tactical Warrior’s.
The character designs and environments, however, are fairly different. The characters have quite a bit of details, with some wielding some pretty badass looking weapons while the environments lean more towards lightly forested and murky areas, though the environmental objects still play a roll in where you’ll move your characters and how you attack with them.
While exploring the outer reaches of space, you wind up finding something extraordinary. The planet Moridia, which legends say is home to mythical knowledge and treasures hidden in a mysterious ‘nebalua‘. An energy pulse takes your ship out while exploring, resulting in a crash landing on the unexplored planet. Now it’s up to you and your team to survive the attacking life forms, and find a way back home.
Starting off, you’re able to choose between 3 different groups of fighters; Mechanic, who’s main focus is summoning – Warrior, who focuses on powerful attacks – and Councillor who focuses on flexibility. You’re also able to choose between Easy, Medium and Hard Difficulties.
The game is set up kind of like a card based strategy game. Each character is able to equip various cards which allow them to perform different attacks as well as beef up their defensive skills. Once you earn enough experience through battles, you’re able to strengthen these cards up. Some battles will also give you cards as rewards, and sometimes you’ll be offered another character to add to your team. Each time you’re offered a reward, you’re given 3 choices to choose from. In the event of a new member being offered, you’re able to not add a member, and give some XP to your team. All of this makes the card equipping, leveling up, and even item equipping aspects of the game fairly deep.
Aside from the cards, story and character design+environments, LostStar Tactics could easily be a sequel to Tactical Warrior. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Especially when I think about all the hours upon hours I lost because of Tactical Warrior. There’s also the price. $1.99. Hard to beat that, considering Tactical Warrior is $2.99, and worth every penny. But even with the fantastic gameplay, there are a couple of down-sides to the game. The game is not Universal, so those of you out there who hate playing games in 2X mode on your iPad will be pretty disappointed. There’s also no GameCenter, meaning no achievements to shoot for. Also, if there’s a player or enemy at the bottom of the screen underneath the text that says “touch a warrior to view his stats.” you’ll need to move the playing field in order to select them. It’s not a big deal, but something that kept on bugging me while I was playing. Actually, none of these ‘issues’ are really a big deal. LostStar Tactics is one of those games that’s good enough it’s very easy to overlook having to play in 2X Mode, and the lack of achievements or any online features.
In the end, LostStar Tactics is a fairly deep turn-based strategy game with great RPG elements, also with a price that really can’t be beat. Hopefully it gets the attention it deserves so that more work will go into it, and hopefully we can get an HD or Universal version of the game. An online multiplayer mode would be amazing to see as well. But for $1.99, it’s a great buy if you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games. Even if you’re new to the genre, LostStar Tactics would be a great place to start. It’s easy to understand tutorial and simple gameplay that gets deeper the more you explore it is great for newcomers to the genre.
Strategy Games. Developers seem to quickly be realizing how great the touch screen and the strategy genre go together, and there’s a lot of iOS gamers who are very glad that this is finally happening. Offworld Game’s Turn Based Strategy title, Legion of the Damned was released late last year, getting lost in the onslaught of games that hit the AppStore around Christmas time. But this well thought-out, nicely voice acted TBS game is one you should definitely think about snagging.
Legion of the Damned has some great gameplay, but this gameplay is also accompanied by a great story. The game starts off in prison, with an inmate being picked up and taken to the execution chamber. Here, the inmate is given the chance, like all executed inmates, to be re-animated and added to nations army, The Legion. The inmate is then executed in the same manor in which he murdered an innocent girl.
If this is sounding familiar, it should. Legion of the Damned has a great story because it’s written by the author of the book, Legion of the Damned, William C. Dietz. To give you an idea of how big this is, Dietz has written tie-in novels for huge AAA games, such as Halo, Starcraft, and Mass Effect, as well as others, and has a fairly extensive list of original titles under his belt.
Not only does having a top-notch writer play into the story, but Offworld Games also hired 6 voice actors to do the dialogue in the game. There are some parts in which the voice acting is a little cheesy, but for the most part, it’s very well done, and coupled with the fantastic comic book type cut-scenes, adds a great level of immersion to the game.
There are 3 modes in LotD; A 16 stage Campaign Mode, an online Multiplayer Mode that supports up to 4-players, which also supports 4-player local Multiplayer as well, and a Skirmish Mode, supporting everything that Strategy players could hope to see in a game these days. Making it even more interesting, Offworld has included a Custom Map Builder. Yeah, everything that Strategy players could want.
The gameplay is played out on hex-based maps, with each of your different characters utilizing different skills. In order to complete the Campaign, you’ll need to figure out how to best make all of your characters work together, filling in for the others weaknesses with their strengths. This is definitely not a ‘build the strongest character up and spam the enemy’ type of game. You’re given 8 turns to capture as many flags as you can, or take out every one of the enemy soldiers. If the enemy has more flags in their control by the end of the 8 turns, or kills you off before then, you’ll need to replay the level.
Your main characters, the criminals-turned human-cyborgs are able to scout out the map, as well as attack the enemy, but they are fairly week defensively, and are very susceptible to mines. This is where your crawler machines come in handy, being able to defuse the mines. Moving them ahead of the group is something you’ll need to consistently do to complete the campaign levels. Then there’s your strong cyborgs, which can hit enemies without actually seeing them. However, if you send your humans forward, they can lock on to enemies, allowing the strong cyborgs to attack with full power. Each has different damage versus infantry, armor, and a fear effect. The Fear Effect results in causing the enemy to either retreat, or hold strong and fight back against you.
As for the stages, they’re generally the same type of environment. Grasslands with some trees, and water here and there. It’s about the same level of graphics as you would find with Wesnoth or Eustrath. To zoom in and out, you’re given a tab on the right side of the screen which you can move up or down. This takes a little getting use to, as most strategy games just have you pinch to zoom.
Right now, Offworld is working hard on fleshing out the online play with player profiles, invites, and more. Being priced at $5, but not being Universal, or including Game Center support [online play is handled by registering through the LotD site, and there’s not many online players ATM], it’s still a great buy. The skirmish and campaign modes are fantastic, and the gameplay has enough original mechanics to keep it interesting. Even if you’re not interested in the campaign or story, the skirmish mode is great, and even though there aren’t many online players, you can be sure that there the few that are there are willing to play. The game doesn’t look too bad in 2X mode on the iPad, but it’ll suffice, as the developers have said that a Universal and Retina update is also in the works. If you’re a fan of the genre, Legion of the Damned is definitely a title you’ll want to check out. Especially if you’re looking for a great story driven strategy game, as it’s easily one of the best available in the AppStore.
It’s pretty rare to see a development team release high quality RPGs one after the other. Square Enix is definitely in that list, but with iOS titles, Kemco is right on their heals. Releasing Symphony of Eternity, Alphadia, Eve of the Genesis and Fantasy Chronicle all within the last year, Kemco has made their mark on the Turn Based RPG scene, and now we can add Grinsia to that list of top notch titles that they’re building up.
This time around, you’ll start off playing as a 3 member family; Grieg, father, Milka, daughter, and the son, which you’re able to name at the beginning of the game. For those of you who have played Kemco’s other releases, Grinsia might not be as depthy as you might like. The characters HP and MP goes up with each leveling up, which is done with experience gained through battles. You are able to equip your characters with one weapon, one piece of armor, and two accessories. The accessories are all varied from pieces that bring up your defense or attack, to items that can raise the critical hit rate by 10%, or raise a characters speed, luck, or protect against certain magical spells.
Compared to Kemco’s previous releases, Grinsia does not require much, if any at all, grinding, which is a big plus. The game is driven by the story, and, without any side quests, everything that you wind up doing directly effects the progression of the plot. However, in order to progress throughout the game, you will need to do a lot of exploration, and go through a lot of conversation with townsfolk. It’s almost never directly apparent who you’re going to need to talk to, so you will spend quite a bit of time getting to know people in every place that you visit.
There’s also a day and night system for the game. Some sections will be impossible to pass unless it’s nighttime in the game, while others require the sun to be out. You are also given choices with your character, depending on how you’d like to play, being the ‘good’ guy, or the ‘bad’ guy, each having it’s own strengths and weaknesses, effecting what items you get, and how you make it through certain parts of the game. This sometimes can change the outcome of things, like if a certain character joins your party, but no ‘wrong’ answer will ever get you stuck. This definitely adds a great layer of immersion with the gameplay.
As for combat, like other T-B-RPGs, there is an ‘auto’ button, which makes your characters automatically attack the enemies, without using spells, or items. But this time around, if you decide to use the auto button more than a couple times in a row, you’ll end up killing off your characters pretty quickly. The combat isn’t really challenging compared to some other RPGs, but you will need to pay attention, and mix things up in order to make your way from point A to point B.
To make things a little easier while traveling, each town and ‘dungeon’ area has their own portal. Once activated, you can teleport yourself from one place to another in a flash. This makes moving from place to place, and even across continents a breeze. Another big plus for this mechanic is that you really don’t need to grind through battles, so you can’t really use the teleportation too much, as there’s always enough battles to keep your levels high enough to make it through the game.
Like all of Kemco’s other releases, Grinsia’s story, translation, and music are all top notch. The story is very well written, while the translation to English is almost perfect, having only minor mistakes here and there. The music is in the same league as old-school Final Fantasy games, adding to the feeling and immersion that the story and characters build up by themselves.
Graphically, Grinsia isn’t really different from Kemco’s previous efforts, with the retro inspired graphics being very polished, and the character models during dialogue looking great. Grinsia has loads of different environments, including port town, inland towns, castles, dungeons, caves, forests, underground hideaways, temples, and more, giving the game quite a bit of variety with it’s environments.
After the release of Fantasy Chronicle, I didn’t think Kemco would ever be able to out-do themselves. However, Grinsia, while not as depthy with the equip or combat systems, is probably the most polished, and well rounded RPG that they’ve ported over to the English AppStore. Right now, it’s on sale for $4.99, and will soon go up to it’s regular price of a well deserved $8.99. Though there’s really nothing negative that can be said about the game as a whole, it is worth pointing out that I, as well as some other players have experienced lag, and frame rate issues, as well as crashes. Kemco has said that they are working on this as fast as they can, so hopefully we’ll get a fix for whatever is causing this as soon as possible. However, out of everyone I’ve talked to, and out of all of the reviews in the US AppStore, combined, only about 10% of players have experienced problems like these, so there’s a very good chance that most of you have nothing to worry about. Now, like all of Kemco’s past RPG releases, Grinsia is ending up as a highly recommended game, and is being put on my personal ‘Best Games of 2012’ list. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely a game that you should have on your device.
::After posting this review, a user in the US AppStore posted a fix for the lag and framerate issues. If you enable OpenFeint while playing, you shouldn’t experience any lag at all. Apparently, if you’re not signed into OF, the game keeps trying to access your OF data, which is what is causing the lag and slowdown. I’ve checked this on both a 4th Generation iPod Touch, and an iPad 2, both having no slowdown issues at all with OpenFeint enabled.::
**THANKS TO ENDEMION IN THE US APPSTORE FOR POSTING THIS!!**