Version Reviewed: 1.0
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It's not often that I play an iPhone game for an entire weekend without either beating it or becoming extremely bored. I can't say that I can "powergame" on a hand held like I could when I beat Metroid 2 on my Game Boy for the 40th time, but I definitely put an unexpected amount of time into War of Eustrath.
Eustrath is a tactical RPG, kind of like Transformers G1 in the iPhone world, but more like a Final Fantasy Tactics on the console side. Like any good Asian inspired tactical RPG, the game has you play as the hero out to save your land from an evil force. To aid your quest, there is inevitably going to be a stupid girl, a smart-alec girl, a pretty girl (sometimes two of these three are mixed into one), a sleazy guy, a tough guy, and the cold hero. Sometimes I feel like the genre went out long ago to perfectly gender stereotype the human race, and War of Eustrath definitely bought the research.
Before I even get to the game itself, which is very good, I have to say a bit about the rest. The story in Eustrath isn't a bad one; there are two nations against each other and it is up to you, with your powerful GEAR's to win the battle. Each GEAR, seemingly ripped directly from Avatar, "chooses" a rider and that rider will only be able to function with his/her GEAR. The "bond" between rider and GEAR heightens the senses of the best riders, but makes them overly tired after long journeys.
On your quest, you find all the gender stereotypes, and they get into conversations between each level (sometimes long conversations), about very stupid things. Most of the dialogue, if not all, requires you to completely turn off your brain and any sense you once had in order to really get into it. There are terrible love triangles, guys that completely break character, promiscuous comments that may or may not have been intended, and an overarching feeling that you are saving the nation with a bunch of 14 year olds with raging hormones.
Once you get past the dialogue (you'll find it funnier and funnier as your brain sinks lower and lower), you'll get to a surprisingly deep game with some great combat elements and a deep upgrade system. Everything is turn based, so movement and action points become a big deal. Each GEAR has multiple attacks, a few defensive moves, and short term "spells" that they can cast on themselves and others to boost stats. Since each unit has a vital role in the story of the game, most levels require that you keep everyone alive, making for some intense sequences when you get a player stranded.
The game touts 50+ levels and multiple story arcs with different endings, as well as over 20 unique characters, making for a long game with a ton of replay value. Eustrath definitely has its flaws, but if you can get past the mind-numbing dialogue, there is surprising depth to the game with some good RPG elements to be played. It's definitely deeper, game play wise, than your average iOS gaming app .