Don’t you just hate it when your barbecue gets invaded? You’re sitting there tucking into a nice juicy steak and all of a sudden it’s ‘OH NO! VIKINGS ON THE HORIZON! SAVE THE CONDIMENTS!’ Well, if this has ever happened to you, then you’ll feel some sympathy for the Viking horde in Swords and Soldiers, the latest iOS release from Chillingo. Originally released on the Wii back in 2009, Swords and Soldiers has done the rounds, seeing releases on PSN and PC before finding its way into the palm of your hand. Featuring three different playable races, Vikings, Aztecs and Chinese, each with their own campaign and individual strengths, is Swords and Soldiers a worthwhile purchase for your general-on-the-go?
Napoleon Never Had It This Easy - Strategy games can be a daunting prospect for many people. Precise resource management, a working knowledge of The Art of War, and expert knowledge of a unit’s strengths and weaknesses can be the difference between success and failure, and sometimes you just don’t have that much time to invest in a game. Swords and Soldiers tackles this by being perhaps one of the easiest strategy games to control and manage that I have ever played. A single finger can control building units, researching upgrades and using magic, and units require next to no management once they have left your base, as warriors merely move from left to right, and miners collect resources automatically. Whilst this sounds boring, and incredibly shallow, it is in fact neither. There’s always a lot going on, and the variety of units on offer make sure that you are constantly on your toes trying to match up strengths and weaknesses against your foes.
Wellington Never Looked This Good - Perhaps the best thing about Swords and Soldiers is its personality. From bright colours to humorous characters, every inch of this game oozes with charm and charisma. Coupled with crisp graphics, and exaggerated but amusing character models, Swords and Soldiers is a pleasure on the eye. What’s more, with a game that encourages you to have as many units on the field as possible, the complete lack of slowdown is impressive, and is crucial to maintaining a sense of control over your armies.
FALL ON YOUR SWORD
Montezuma’s Revenge - Surprisingly enough, strategy is pretty important in a strategy game. If you try one approach, and it doesn’t work, chances are you need to mix it up and change what you’re doing. Formations, units, and tactics are all open to change, and a decent combination of the three should see you to victory. With Swords and Soldiers, this isn’t really that case. Whilst you do have some control over which units you build and when, oftentimes it can feel like your units are merely banging their heads against a brick wall until they break through. If you encounter a portion that you find difficult, there aren't really many options to change what you’re doing and try a different approach. Instead, you usually have to retry what you’re doing until you get luck on your side, and only then can you progress.
‘You! Storm Those Barricades! No! Not You! You! No, You!’ - Your hero is bleeding on the battlefield, moments from death. A new recruit has a few minor cuts and grazes, but could easily live to fight another day. You have enough mana left to perform a spell which could instantly heal either one, leaving their wounds as merely a memory. So which do you choose? The hero, obviously. Trouble is, you can’t select him as the rookie is standing right in front of him. Or, he’s in the middle of a group and you have no idea which button is his. This is one of the problems with 2D strategy games like this, precision goes out the window when you have more than one or two units occupying a similar space. Similarly, when you’re trying to fight a boss battle, or a particularly dangerous enemy, and they’re surrounded by smaller enemies, its a roll of the dice as to which one you’re going to hit, and if you miss who you’re aiming for, chances are your army will fall into ruin.
Swords and Soldiers is a game that will hopefully thrive on a portable system. With levels that only take a couple of minutes to beat, simple mechanics, and easy to understand objectives, the game is designed to be played in quick bursts, and the humour, personality and charm is rewarding enough to keep you entertained throughout. Whilst Swords and Soldiers will never teach you to become a world conquering general, it will teach you the importance of barbecues, and the fact that kicking the crap out of someone is always the best way to ensure survival.