Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Swords and Soldiers is strategy simplified. The basic goals are the same as other real-time strategy games; attain resources and use them to build troops that are used to defend the base and attack the enemy. The difference is that the game is largely one-dimensional; all the units travel on a straight line except for when maps contain forking paths, but all the units maintain the same goal: travel right and accomplish their goal, whether it be to collect gold or attack the enemy. Players can also use spells with mana that accumulates to either attack the enemy directly, slow their troops down, heal the player's own troops, or increase their power.
See, while the game is simple, this is part of its brilliance - there is very little management of actual units involved. It's possible to cast spells on them for healing and enraging to deal more damage, but ultimately, they just travel forward and do their thing until they stop or reach the end of the map. The player's ultimate goal is just to make sure they have enough money and mana to summon the units and spells they want to play. This is what makes Swords and Soldiers so appealing - it's strategic without being complex. It is very easy to get into, and the lack of specific control is actually a positive - not having this option means that players know how the units will always act, without any question. The game also offers access to its later campaigns instantly, only asking the user to confirm that they are sure that they want to play later campaigns. There are also high score challenges included for users who want something to pick up and try to attain a high score at.
Sword and Soliders would be perfect for some kind of multiplayer mode, preferably with online play. The gameplay is set up perfectly for head-to-head competition, and the lack of such a mode is disappointing, especially since the game is presented in terms of "Single Player" - this implies that a multiplayer mode should come at some point, no? The lack of advanced unit controls does come in to play at some points, as it seems like if units could be stopped, then powerful enemy units not in view wouldn't decimate the constantly-advancing units. I understand the tradeoff; the advanced unit movement controls occasionally made the similarly-playing Legendary Wars too complex, but the core gamer in me still wants that control.
Sword and Soldiers is a great example of what a casual strategy game can do. It's deep enough for core gamers to enjoy, yet is simple enough that casual gamers can get in to it, while appreciating its deeper elements. While the tradeoffs made for simplicity can be frustrating at times, and a multiplayer mode would be welcomed, Sword and Soldiers is a fine game, even for those who aren't typically part of the strategy game's audience.