This is your father’s Rome Total War
Slitherine, the developers who last year brought us the port of the critically acclaimed Battle Academy, have ported a new, older, title to the iPad. Legion is a game in the tradition of Creative Assembly’s Total War franchise. It is a game of strategy and large-scale tactics that places the player in semi-historical situations centered around the Roman Empire.
Legion takes place on a series of historical maps. It would be too much to call this a grand strategy game, but Legion does require the player to conquer a hefty percentage of the available cities across the often large map. Maps are split into territories, and each is controlled by a different AI nation or tribe. Players have the option to engage with other nations in diplomatic relations, the most useful aspect being to demand more payments from wounded opponents requesting a peace treaty from the player.
Conquering requires the raising of armies- which in turn requires construction and expansion within player owned cities. These cities don’t expand on the map, but rather within their own separate mini-map. For the most part, it feels as if there is a bit too much map to contend with- a problem compounded by the lack of zoom functionality and realistically slow movement rates.
Much like Total War, battles in Legion also take place outside of the main map view. These battles are described as real time strategy, but I find that a comparison to Gratuitous Space Battles is a more apt descriptor. Players align their forces on the battlefield, choose formations and movement patterns, and then press play to watch the battle unfold. During the initial clash, soldiers will very clearly follow the orders given. Once the enemy has routed, though, soldiers will automatically path towards remaining enemy forces (even if there is a chance of your men routing). It is a shame that further orders cannot be given mid-battle, but I suppose the game is balanced to handle quick engagements not dragged out by retreats and complex maneuvering.
No one particular element of Legion struck me as better than its peers available on the PC. However; it happens to be the only game of its specific kind on the iPad. The iPad specific controls work well enough- though not as well as a game like Battle of the Bulge. This is a good start for historical grand strategy on the iPad, but there is significant room for growth.
Legion is available at a reduced price of $4.99 for the iPad