Developer: Triniti Interactive
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Ancient War is a castle-defense game of a sort…but instead of just sitting back while your opponent assaults your gates, you have to attack! From cavemen to dinosaurs to shamans, your troops bring their own style to the field as they work to both attack and defend. While it faces fierce competition from excellent games such as the Knight’s Onrush, Ancient War is still a great game in its own right, especially if you have a thirst for more offensive action.

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Of course, because we’re in good ol’ Prehistoria, you’re not defending a castle; you’re defending your tribe’s totem pole whilst trying to topple the other tribe’s. Because of this, the gameplay ends up as a sort of violent tug-of-war between the two sides: when a warrior goes down, the line has an opportunity to advance. After all, you can’t attack your enemy’s totem pole unless it’s within your range…and this means that you’ll often be fighting just to get close enough to attack. This adds a new element of strategy. Sure, your standard melee fighters are in more danger (they’re closer to your opponent), but by the same token they are key to pushing your line ahead.

At first, however, Ancient War just isn’t that great. But with each battle, you gain gold…and with gold, you can purchase a plethora of upgrades and unlock new troop types. These demand new strategies and hold new delights: there’s nothing quite as satisfying as witnessing your trained T-rex munch on your enemy’s cavalry.

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The actual gameplay goes something like this: your food meter fills at a constant pace throughout the battle. Food is required to build troops; each troop type requires a different amount of food. The T-rex is hungrier than the standard warrior, sure, but why does the catapult need food? Anyway. You tap the troop’s portrait at the bottom of the screen to build one, and then you watch as the battle begins, adding more troops as your food meter allows. If things start to turn south (and trust me, they will), you can use your divine powers to summon a “miracle,” which brings meteors raining down upon the field.

Yep, it’s pretty nifty.

The “home page” is the world map, which shows all of the tribes you can take on, along with a gold star for each level you’ve defeated. (Each tribe has four difficulty levels.) From here, you can also hit the technology page, fiddle with your options, see the high scores…that sort of thing.

Sadly, everything isn’t sunny here. My first and most minor gripe is that Ancient Wars isn’t incredibly original, but the implementation is what really matters, right? The current version has attracted hosts of complaints on the App Store about newfound lagginess and missing data. While I didn’t have Version 1.0 and therefore didn’t experience any data loss, I can definitely attest to the lag. In some battles, I was fine, but it gets hairy when more troops pour onto the screen. Worst of all is if you happen to tap the power button: send your device to sleep, and the game freaks out upon your return. For this reason, I’ve docked points for iPhone integration.

Despite those problems, though, Ancient Wars is definitely a solid title. I love the tug-of-war-esque combination of offense and defense; Ancient Wars is a well-balanced game, and the rounds are shorter (10-15 minutes is the longest I’ve gone) compared to other games. While it is lacking some functions like Endless Mode and the lag definitely needs to be addressed, promised updates have me excited: bluetooth and online multiplayer as well as new units and technologies. I can easily recommend Ancient Wars to anyone who enjoys a bit of cheery violence!

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