It’s not often I will enjoy Tower Defense or Real Time Strategy games to a degree of completion, Plants vs Zombies and Starfront were entertaining enough for me but I never had the urge to complete them and most other games in this particular genre are a lost cause on me. Then I was handed Swords and Soldiers to review, opening the game up, I thought to myself, it’s just another game like Legendary Wars. I’d never heard of Swords and Soldiers before and was surprised to find it had already been released on PC/PS3/Wii.
So as I took a deep breath and started to play the game, then was nothing short of blown away. Not because of graphics, or deep rich story, because Swords and Soldiers isn’t exceptionally stand out for either, but because the sheer ease of use made this possibly one of the most playable, and replayable games the appstore has to offer. I have been hooked since I first loaded it up and Swords and Soldiers has had at the least 1-2 solid hours a day out of me since.
The premise of the game is a basic RTS and TD mix, the main aim is to get to the other side of the map and destroy your opposition’s castle on the majority of stages. This is mixed up throughout the campaign with some levels focused on tower defense until the timer runs out, collect 2000 gold before defeat, or reaching the other side of the map with a specific character still alive.
The 30 levels are split between 3 different campaigns (Vikings, Aztecs and Chinese). Over the 3 campaigns all troops have 2 core classes, close combat and projectile with a 3rd and 4th selectable that varies between the different armies. Each faction has their own personal mission that’s explained in the rather humorous story. The Vikings are having a BBQ but the BBQ sauce is missing so in true viking fashion of destroying everything that’s in your way you quest to find the sauce. The Aztecs need to protect their holy pepper from opposing Aztec groups. Finally, as the Chinese you’re ruled by an infant, so the only logical quest would be to collect and protect your substantial toy box.
Each campaign plays differently but keeps to core RTS rules, you need to mine for resources to afford research and troops to send forward into the battlefield. Sounds like it could get complicated quick, but the 2D sidescrolling design coupled with simple tap to activate controls makes this one of the enjoyable casual RTS games I’ve ever played. Your infantry automatically travels towards the enemy base as well so you don’t have to worry about strategic attack plans either.
Not to say that the game doesn’t require you to use your well educated minds to succeed, the strategy comes into play with your mana powered extras, represented in the blue circles on the right hand side of your available selections. Each campaign gives you a handful of different powers to bestow upon your legion of fighters as and when you choose. You can choose to save your mana for bigger attacks or use frequently for smaller effect, some abilities include cloning members of your front line, sending down healing powers from the heavens, or just rolling a giant rock across the screen that wipes out anything in its path, including your own side. Picking the correct timing here can mean either a victory or instant loss, on a few occasion I had to repeat a level or two until I had figured out the best timed approach. At the bottom of your screen there’s a timeline map displaying the location of both your troops and the opposition to allow you to easily keep track of the action whilst micromanaging your home base.
The game doesn’t just stop at the campaign either, you’re really treated to a plethora of great game modes here with a very cleverly implemented multiplayer available on the iPad version, skirmish and various challenge modes on both devices, all with Game Center and Crystal support too. All gameplay is presented in a slick 2D environment making it super easy to follow the action whilst admiring the simplistic and fun character design. The music and sound effects aren’t anything groundbreaking, and the repeated phrases from your newly dispatched troops can get repetitive quick.
Swords and Soldiers doesn’t take itself too seriously and makes for a perfect introduction for RTS first timers and a great casual experience for more veteran players. With a fully enjoyable campaign over 3 different factions tied in with challenges, skirmish mode and multiplayer this is one game that will keep your attention for a while.