Swords and Soldiers is a great new game developed by Two Tribes and published by Chillingo. It’s basically a castle defense and real time strategy hybrid game, with a great sense of humor and a colorful cartoon art style.
The app lets you play as one of three factions, each with their own campaign; the Vikings, the Aztecs, and the Chinese. Each faction plays very differently, sporting unique strategies and play styles. They aren’t quite as different as say… Starcraft’s Terran, Protoss, and Zerg but the nuances and depth of each faction are surprising. The gameplay is broken down into gathering money, creating soldiers, managing your upgrade tree, and casting spells. Juggling these creates most of the challenge, and it’s all about deciding what to buy and when. Though, that’s always changing depending on the faction you are facing or the map you’re playing on. Saving your spells for the right moments can completely turn the tide of a fight. Also, each faction has massive damage dealing ultimate spell, which is always a lot of fun to unleash. The Vikings get some help from a certain awesome Norse deity, for example. Still, it isn’t nearly as deep as a normal RTS game. In the end, it all comes down to unit spamming. Getting massive numbers of troops on the field will win most battles for you, but it isn’t always easy to do, and the enemy can always mess your plans up, one way or another.
The campaign isn’t nearly as challenging, in that you are often limited in what tools you can use to complete a mission. Several unique challenges are thrown in, such as levels with no gold mines or having to survive for a certain amount of time. The stories of the three campaigns are all hilarious and the three factions are packed full of personality, especially in their animations. The Vikings, for example, are just trying to throw a really awesome barbeque when Blackbeard and his Vikings crash the party. The art and effects are great, as is the music. There is a skirmish mode that lets you set up matches any way you want them, and challenge modes that are unlocked by beating the campaigns. Being a Chillingo game, there are Crystal achievements to nab. I didn’t even learn until after I had played the game for hours that this was a port of a console and PC game. It feels very natural on a touch device. The app costs $2.99, which is definitely worth it, but if you act quickly you can get the game on sale for only one dollar. Check it out.