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Total War Battles - Lost in transition, but still fun in its own right

04-19-2012, 05:32 AM
#1
Total War Battles - Lost in transition, but still fun in its own right

If this isn't titled Total War Battles, it would be hard pressed to connect this game with the Total War Samuari PC game.

As the iOS transistion for the universally lauded PC RTS/city management title, this game's initial impression does much to uphold those expectations. The game spares no moment to immediately showcase its picturesque, colourful yet slightly cartoony art style.
The unit and combat animation is the show stopper - from the silky smooth movement of the units, quick and fluid motions of weapons to the graceful arcs of flying arrows or cannon shells, the animation is a visceral addiction for the eyes.

Hexagonal grids are used for building placement and unit movment. Building placement is injected with light puzzling elements, where uncomplicated rules govern the relationship of buildings, and the shape of the building itself playing a crucial role in interacting with other buildings and the environment in an effort similar to settling puzzle pieces. Naturally, these buildings are responsible for resource and unit production.

Units are produced then deployed anywhere in the player's field of control. Units can only move forward, or diagonally forward to change lanes.
Units have strengths and weaknesses against other unit types, in addition to special abilities such as chance to deflect arrows or bullets to buffing nearby ally's defense. There are 11 units in total, all of them unique and interesting/powerful in their own right.

There are however, a glaring omissions of game modes and rather controversal inclusion of an EXP system, backed by mandatory IAP.
There is only a campaign mode, which the app description claims to last for 10 hours. The campaign is driven by a map of missions and EXP scenarios, both containing a 3 star ranking system based on performance. A single device multiplayer mode is available, exclusively focusing on unit combat and no resource gathering or base building.

However, the lack of skirmish against AI, multiplayer with all the RTS elements in place, or online multiplayer severely hurt the game's production value. It is unthinkable for SEGA not to include the now mandatory skirmish mode for a RTS game.

The EXP system allows for unit and building upgrades. EXP is earned by playing special scenarios, which are not replayable for extra EXP. This means EXP gain is limited (unless the campaign progress can be reset retaining unlocked upgrades) and completionists must resort to IAP to purchase additional to obtain all upgrades.
My argument is, the upgrade effects are non-critical, though definitely beneficial, so judicious purchase of upgrades and planning can override the benefits derived from obtaining more upgrades than the game inherently allows. So this may not be a deal breaker if some consider it to be.

Overall, this is a great (dubious) RTS game in its own right. The gameplay of this iOS iteration deviates from its PC big brother, but is interesting enough in its own design. The paucity and omission of staple RTS modes and a rather unpleasant EXP/upgrade system are however, not dismissible and will hurt the game's score.

Final score: 3.5 stars, with prospects for major improvement.