Sword & Soldiers: A RTS Gem
Some of the best games are the ones that examine a popular genre and find a way to cut it down to its rawest elements, keeping the same spirit in a fresh and new form. This is especially true when it comes to mobile games, where getting right to the point is highly welcome. Swords & Soldiers does that for the real-time strategy (RTS) genre. Shifting from the popular top-down viewpoint used in most home computer RTS games, it adopts a side-scrolling view instead. Rather than worry about what is going on all over a larger map, you only need to focus on the skirmishes happening between two points. Those battles tend to be a bit more personal thanks to the smaller number of units in play and the more zoomed-in view.
You pick between a few different factions, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You have to create and maintain a steady flow of resources to build your troops with, as you can only deploy what you can afford. It’s vital to protect your own base while still mustering up enough of an offensive to accomplish your goals. Depending on the enemy troops you’re facing up against, you’ll want to deploy different units to counter them effectively. You have to think quickly and be ready to adapt, as one misstep can lead to the whole battle going awry. In short, it has everything people tend to look for in an RTS experience.
That extends to the variety of modes on offer, as well. There’s a campaign mode with 30 missions that will give you a chance to play all three of the factions while following an absolutely ridiculous story packed with cheeky humor. This is also where you can take on the extra campaign where you play as Chief Meat. It’s best to take on this campaign after you’ve finished with the main three factions, as it makes a lot of enjoyable call-backs in both its story and gameplay. All in all, the campaign is a great place to learn the ins and outs of the game. It’s a lot of fun just on its own.
There’s a skirmish mode for when you only have a little time but just want to get in a quick battle or two. You can set up whichever factions you like and pick how difficult you want the computer AI to be. After that, you choose the size and layout of map you want. If you want to, you can adjust the amount of gold, mana, and workers you’ll start with. There’s no story or dialogue here, but you can lose hours on end to this mode just the same as you can with the campaign. Aside from the skirmishes, you can also poke around in the Challenges mode after you’ve cleared the campaign. There are four different mini-games you can engage in here, providing a little breather between battles.
Having single-player options are all well and good, but for many people the RTS genre is synonymous with multiplayer battling. Swords & Soldiers packs in a head-to-head mode for two players, and it really lives up that name. The screen is divided down the middle, giving each player half of the screen to work with. As long as you’ve got a screen big enough to work with, it’s a very intense and enjoyable way to battle another player. You have most of the same options in multiplayer that you do in the skirmish mode, allowing you to choose from different maps and set up specific parameters.
Whether you’re playing alone or with another player, Swords & Soldiers has plenty to offer. The colorful visuals, catchy soundtrack, variety of gameplay, great sense of humor, and intuitive controls all sum up a fantastic strategy game that’s perfect to take on the go. Often imitated but never fully duplicated, Swords & Soldiers skates the line between approachable and deep in a way few games of its genre can.