What it is good for?
Edwin Starr was mistaken. War is actually good for a lot of things – TV, films and iOS game sales to name a few, so his 1969 classic tune could be viewed as being out of date in 2012. My Wife tells me he may have been trying to make a point about the other side of war which includes death and destruction, but that just sounds ridiculous.
Developer Rubicon, who I’m sure also produce a range of exotic fruit flavoured soft drinks (or maybe it’s just a company with the same name), have released Great Big War Game, which is the sequel to the already popular Great Little War Game.
It’s tap and swipe turn-based strategy, taking place on a hex grid, which any experienced army type person will tell you is just like real war. You move your units about the map one turn at time until you can do no more, then end your turn and allow your enemy to do the same. A bit like a game of chess, except with guns, tanks and rocket launchers. And if that’s a normal game of chess for you, I’m worried.
It’s all about positioning your troops into the best place to attack, while trying to anticipate and block enemy moves, and the game gives you a plethora of ways to do so. The help guide breaks down the main functions with an almost intimidating level of detail, and getting into the game can be a little confusing at first, especially if you’re not familiar with the series. The basics are that you tap a unit to select it and move it to one of the green circles that appear. Enemies within face-shooting range are highlighted along with exactly how much damage you will do to them. Tapping on the enemy then triggers a cutesy death animation (if you can describe death as cutesy) where your enemy gets shot to pieces. When you’re finished, tap the button to hand the turn over to your opponent. By Jove, war is polite.
Once you’ve got accustomed to how it works, you can dive in and discover the many other choices you have on the battlefield. As the game progresses, you’ll use the oil fields which provide you with money after each turn to upgrade your units from grunts to Snipers, Grenadiers and Commandos, plot buildings such as Barracks, Factories and airbases on the map and take control of a fleet of warships and aircraft. You’ve also got 50 missions with an assortment of objectives to wade through. War wasn’t built in a day you know.
The sheer variety of combat options alongside the subsequent situations you find yourself in is what makes Great Big War Game so enjoyable. Taking unit types as a example, Grunts are your basic offensive soldier, Scouts can’t attack, but provide extended line of sight on the field, Engineers can capture enemy buildings and vehicles, and Snipers obviously have ranged attacks. Combine these with the many vehicular toys at your disposal and you’ve got yourself…well, a war game.
As well as Single-Player mode, you have Skirmish – which is simply a case of wiping the enemy off the map without the objectives, Pass and Play, which won’t be any good for me because I don’t have any real friends, and the crown jewel – Asynchronous Online Multiplayer. Think Words With Friends With Guns. As fun as Single-Player is, there’s nothing like an actual human brain. With chips. Yum.
It also has a great sense of humour. In the first cut scene, a soldier flirts with a generous breasted female cadet and a General appears in nothing but his pants. Wait, is that a great sense of humour, or just shameless smut? Whatever, it’s worth half a star at least.
There are a few niggles. Graphically it’s uninspiring, and at times even a little confusing working out what’s going on, but it’s something you soon overlook as the strategy is what makes it shine. The music sounds like something the Queen of England would walk out to during a Jubilee celebration (that’s not a good thing), and switching turns is unnecessarily long as it asks for confirmation every time. I suppose some might find that useful in case you tap the button by accident, but to me it was a slight irritation.
But you’ll have a blast playing this game, literally (hoho). It’s one that will pull you in with it’s charm and won’t let you go till your dinner’s gone cold. So by all means download and install the game, but make sure you chow down before playing. Because we all know what a cold meal is good for don’t we?
Follow Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg. He’s good for absolutely everything.
Great Big War Game is available for £1.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Get it now on the