Version Reviewed: 1.3
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Playing Wars and Battles is like settling in to watch yet another History Channel World War II documentary with your grandpa. It’s traditional, exciting in spots, and you might learn something. But although you might be guilty to admit it, you’re also a little bored.
Wars and Battles is a turn-based strategy tour of WWII. Players can side with the Allies or the Axis and complete a lengthy campaign of heroic struggle and bloodshed, or compete against a friend for personal glory. But while the tactical fundamentals are solid, properly positioning soldiers is as fun here as it’s ever been, several design decisions threaten to make the game as dull as the tired setting and generic title suggest. Players can stack units together to increase their firepower, which is cool, but individual enemy units can only be attacked once per turn. If players surround an enemy, nearby friendly units will provide support fire during that attack, but this “one at a time” approach isn’t methodical, it just drags out the already slow skirmishes. Meanwhile, the game displays a mission report after each turn. This battlefield minutia does a good job keeping players on the right track, since the objectives are occasionally vague, but the constant interruptions kill the pace. The menus already have enough ways to access that information. It’s like for every clever mechanic there’s another that’s needlessly plodding.
These missteps are far from deal breakers, and soon enough players will still find themselves in a nice, enjoyable, armchair general groove, but Wars and Battles’ most disappointing mistake is gating off its most exciting content. This initial download only comes with the WWII campaigns, and not even the more creative alternate history WWII campaigns. The game promises scenarios based on less explored wars in Korea and Russia, but those are coming later. Watching the animated little 3D tanks and infantry move across the hexagonal map never ceases to entertain, but they would be so much more intriguing to look at in something other than another bog standard storming of the beaches of Normandy. There’s a reason why, for better or worse, first-person shooters moved onto the modern age of warfare.
As a platform for future historical strategy games, Wars and Battles establishes a promising foundation. But this initial release’s focus on the Greatest Generation only captures a portion of the game’s greater potential.