iOS Game Review Assault Wave08 Jul 2013 0
Assault Wave is billed by the developers as Chess with Machineguns, although I?d suggest it is better described as Rock, Paper, Scissors than chess, for reasons that I hope will become clear. In style it harks back, in the mind of this older reviewer, to some old arcade games as all the action takes place on a single screen with no scrolling about or similar. This is certainly not a criticism either, as it has allowed the developers to create a game very much suited to the iPad, in my view. It certainly meets the ?pick up, play, put down? style that I find the mobile platform excels at, as opposed to a game where you need to put in a long session to get anything out of. This is certainly a game where you can play a scenario in a 15 minute gap between doing other things. Good for distracting you for a respite in an otherwise busy day.
The game is set in post D-Day Normandy with players able to choose to be either the Allies (US at present, however, a UK unit expansion is planned for online games at least) or the Axis. However, other than personal preference and the description of the units you then use I could see no real difference between the two in terms of game play.
Visually the game is attractive. The art work used in the cut screens has a certain period feel, which helps the atmosphere, being reminiscent of posters of the time and also 1950?s comics.
The battlefields you fight over are top-down 2D affairs with cluttered terrain of bocage, roads, trees and such like as befits a Normandy scenario, and these are nicely drawn. The military units are even better. You can easily see what each unit is such as a Sherman, Panzer IV, etc. and you are unlikely to confuse the Axis and Ally units mid game, but just to make sure each unit is accompanied by a small icon; a white star for the US forces and a yellow cross for the Axis. As a nice touch there is also animation of units depending on what they are doing and the terrain they are crossing. Tanks, etc. are slowed by terrain and tilt and roll as if they are crossing rough ground; turreted AFVs turrets turn to face the enemy they are shooting at whilst those with fixed guns turn the whole vehicle to face the appropriate direction. Additionally if you call in an air strike an aircraft makes a brief appearance overflying the battlefield with bomb bursts following them in the area indicated for their attention. Appropriate sound effects accompany the action.
When you start the game you are presented with a menu with 5 options ? see the screen shot below. These are fairly self explanatory. Note that the Help section includes a simple Tutorial which leads you through the games mechanisms and don?t take too long to work through. If you need it there is also a quick reference sheet available from the Battlefront website http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=110598
When you are ready to dive into the game proper via the Start option you have a number of options for game play.
Again these are pretty self explanatory.
Quick Play drops you straight into a random battle; you have no choice over units, etc. Just dive in and play.
Resume Campaign allows you to carry on where you left off if you are playing a campaign and New Campaign does what it says on the tin. In a campaign, which comprises of 16 battles, you get to choose which side to play and one of 2 difficulty levels; Rookie and Veteran. You get an overview of what the scenario is about and can review your forces and what the enemy has available as well. This gives you some chance to plan what you might do. Once you are ready you are pitched straight into the first battle of the campaign. As you progress through the campaign success unlocks new units you can deploy, and new abilities with which you can influence the course of a battle.
Single Battle is similar to Quick Play except that you get to choose your side and difficulty level in the same you do in a Campaign.
All the above pit you against the games AI. However, Assault Wave also has 2 options for you to go head to head against a human opponent. These are On Device Duel and Online Duel. The former is quite innovative as it allows 2 players to play against each other using the same iPad by duplicating the player controls at the top and bottom of the screen.
In Duel games, as well as which side you will play you can choose your units and/or abilities. This adds a new level of strategy and bluff which the single player options lack. One cannot help but wonder if adding this to the Single Battle might not be a good thing in the future to add variety to the format.
Game play itself is very straight forward. You are presented with a screen that is mostly the terrain you will be fighting over, with the forces and abilities at your disposal arrayed along the bottom. Additionally there may be objectives to take indicated by white circles.
After this the enemy start to appear at the top of the screen and you can deploy your troops ? by dragging and dropping from your force pool ? into a deployment area just above your force roster. Once deployed a unit starts to move up the screen along a lane indicated whist deploying, some faster, some slower, and after this point you have little control over their actions. Thus it is important to decide where to send you units so that you get the best match ups against the enemy. Once you have deployed a unit it?s icon in the force roster turns red and then slowly changes to partly greyed out and finally back in its original colour, at which point you can deploy another of that type again. Different units ?regenerate? at different rates ? larger vehicles take more time than smaller ones for example ? so you need to be a bit canny about deployment otherwise you could get caught out by the enemy.
In addition to your units you also have abilities which allow you to affect the course of the battle once you have let your troops go in the deployment area. Examples of abilities are: ?charge?, which speeds up a unit; ?first aid?, which restores a damaged unit and ?air strike?, which allows you to damage enemy units in an area. To use an ability you touch the relevant ability icon, at which point a ?targeting? icon appears which you can move around the screen and which turns gold when over a suitable target ? releasing it applies the effect. Some of these abilities ? ?drop back? for example ? are the only way you can affect the movement of units in the game, and can be used on either side which brings you some nice tactical choices that are not immediately obvious when you start playing the game. The same regenerative cycle that applies to units applies to abilities as well; another layer of decision making.
Winning the scenario is all about accumulating more ?Battle Points? than your opponent. These are gained by destroying enemy units, taking objectives and by having units leave the battlefield by the opponents start point. Again this area has more subtlety than is immediately apparent, and how and when you deploy units and abilities can have a significant effect on the course of the battle ? hence my view that it is more Rock, Paper, Scissors than chess as some units are better against some enemies than others.
Should you so desire you can record your games and play them back, although I am not sure how interesting that would be ? but it may tickle your fancy.
Overall this is a good fun game with which you can kill a great deal of spare time without needing a single long period of game play. It certainly has more depth to play than is immediately apparent. The biggest question mark I have over this game is around longevity. The single player mode has a limited number of scenarios and, let?s be honest, these are fairly similar if enjoyable as a pick up for a bit of R&R. I suspect the answer to longevity lies in the 2 player and online options when you bring in the human opponent factor. Alas, time constraints have not let me explore these options as yet so I am not yet in a position to make a proper judgement. As mentioned above I expect that the single player mode could be given extra longevity by allowing the player to construct their own force mix in order to set themselves new challenges.
Currently only available for iOS - iOS 5 or higher, $4.99/£2.99 in the iTunes store at the time of writing.
Note that this game is graphically intensive and works best on iPad 2 and newer ? crashes from time to time on my creaky old iPad 1 (however, so do some other Apps so it may not be the fault of Assault Wave).