Developer: Sproing Interactive Media GmbH
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

It feels like this battle has been going on for weeks. Reports come pouring in across the command table – scouts have spotted enemy troops deploying along a ridge to the east of our main base, obviously trying to gain a flanking position. My own infantry is entrenched in the forests surrounding our target, waiting for tank reinforcements that have been suppressed by enemy air forces since they were deployed. But as the weather shifts and the rain begins to fall, suddenly those enemy planes can’t engage. And as my tanks roll forward, I give the order to end this battle once and for all.

IMG_0389Panzer Tactics HD is a top-down, hex-grid, turn-based strategy game. The starting campaign puts you in control of Germany’s forces during the opening blows of World War II, with Soviet and Ally campaigns available for separate purchase from within the app. A series of tutorial missions will quickly teach you the fundamentals of unit control and combat, and then you are rapidly thrown into the deep end, already facing a combined land, air, and naval assault in your very second mission. The visuals are very nicely done, with good detail and simple, effective animations (but not full battle scenes). The music is good at setting the atmosphere, and the sound effects are satisfying. However, many units are too visually similar at first glance, leading to wasted movements that always come at a frustratingly high cost in lost turns.

It’s very important to understand the kind of game Panzer Tactics HD is. It is a game of methodical strategy and carefully deliberated movements. It rewards attention to detail and punishes over-eagerness. Range, terrain, and weather all factor into the effectiveness of your units. Also, there are many unit types to keep track of, and it is entirely possible to spend three turns moving a piece of artillery into a critical position only to find you were accidentally moving your ‘10.5 cm le.FH 18’ and not your ‘15 cm sFH 18’, and boy did you just make a huge mistake. Also important is the rock-paper-scissors connection between damage and armor types. Attack a unit with the wrong kind of damage and you’ll find even your most powerful tanks having hardly any effect.

IMG_0387Each mission has primary and secondary objectives, which will tempt players into taking a slow, methodical approach to victory – a tactic that often works at the expense of dragging the game down to a rather boring pace. However, one’s overall score is rated based on turns taken, creating an incentive to keep up the pressure. Learning where the balance lies takes the game to another level.

Like any strategy game, Panzer Tactics HD has a learning curve, and its gameplay isn’t for those who want a truly action-packed experience – it is a game built around tension, not excitement. However, once you learn its combat systems and brace yourself for its pacing, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a challenging, tightly designed strategy game perfectly adapted for the iOS.

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