Developer: CDE
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Avatar of War – The Dark Lord is push defense title in the realm of Epic War 3 and Trenches. Like all other games of the type, your army is on the left while the incoming army is on the right. You get a list of units to build and can spend money earned in combat on a whole slew of weapons upgrades and the like.

What really separates Avatar of War from the pack is its use of gestures. In Epic War 3 for example, there is an easy to hit button that commands your troops to fall back. Buttons are nice because they are typically easy to see, a synch to use, and don’t require much thought. If Apple has taught us anything though in the past few years, it’s that gestures are king… so get used to them.

The gesture system in Avatar of War is a bit tricky though, and leaves you with an option to hit a physical button if things get too intense. For example, if I were to create an intuitive gesture to make an army quickly march forward, I would probably use a two finger touch from left to right. Avatar of War instead makes you draw >> on the screen, and the gesture recognition is merciless for angles that aren’t sharp. The other problem is that the game takes a second to register the gesture to issue a command. You may really need to retreat in battle but the gesture system takes a second or two to process, much to the dismay of my dead troops. In many ways I like the idea of gestures, but if they are going to be tricky or slow, I’d much rather have buttons.

Beyond the unique gesture system though, much of Avatar of War is just like the rest of the games in the genre. Build an army, upgrade your army, and resist X number of waves or survive for X amount of time to win. The game does sport one of the most in depth upgrade systems in the genre, but the upgrades fail to show tangible upgrade amounts. For example, there’s no way of telling just how much better a level 4 warrior is from a level 3 one. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but many gamers will feel cheated from that oh so satisfying upgrade feeling.

In the end, if you enjoy playing games like Epic War 3 and Trenches, you’ll probably get some satisfaction out of Avatar of War: The Dark Lord. The gesture system could use some tweaking and the upgrade tree could be a bit more transparent, but all the makings of a good game are in place. Just go out and have fun.

*Note: I ran into a glitch the first time I loaded the game where the gesture system was totally broken and touching the screen just moved my view to the left (I’ve read similar stories on some random forums). To fix, just delete the game and reinstall.

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