Battle of WWII iPhone & Itouch Review: No Victory Here

You know, the moment I saw the iPod Touch unveiled, the first thing I thought was what kind of potential this device had for RTS gaming. Strategy games were born for multitouch screens, and quite a few examples from the App Store turned out fantastic.

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And then there’s Battle of WWII by Simubotic GmbH. Battle of WWII is an RTS game that hits some points strong while completely failing in others. The story behind the game is one we’ve all heard of: Normandy, also known as D-Day or Operation: Overlord, and some of the events in that historic clash. You play as an Allied commander sending in troops to thwart the Axis control of Europe. The game features 12 campaign levels and 14 unique maps in the campaign and skirmish modes with three levels of difficulty. Units include tanks, infantry, jeeps, and artillery in a variety of types, strengths, and costs.

Controls are similar to other RTS games on the App Store. Touch units to select, and touch places on the map to move them there or touch enemies to attack them. Several units can be selected at once, and groups of units can be formed to select and direct quickly, which is an essential part of a modern RTS that I was very happy to see.

Gameplay, however, is much too simple. You capture command points on the board from the enemy, which then provides you with more fuel to create units and a new post to create said units. The campaign tries to mix it up by giving different reasons for collecting these bases, but the gameplay is exactly the same in each campaign level, which became extremely boring and repetitive.

Also, the game offers no tutorial level for you to learn how to play the game- there’s just a long instruction manual on the main screen, and then you’re thrown right into the thick of it with no helpful instruction whatsoever. This is an absolutely vital part of a complex RTS that the developers failed to deliver.

The experience only grows worse as you find that there is a VERY small population cap of heavy units in the campaign. You are only allowed two tanks at any point in the first few levels. This would be fine, if the enemy weren’t provided with twice that many tanks and seriously overpowered cannons that rip them to pieces. This became so tiresome that I didn’t bother to even finish the campaign, and I more than likely never will.

Another item that the game falters on is the fact that the enemies never come to attack you. The game is challenging enough, but there’s no sense of the urgency of Normandy if you always have to initiate the battle.

Another thing that irked me is that enemies just seem to appear out of nowhere. At first, I thought this was occurring because coming within a certain radius of the command points causes the game to spawn them, but experimentation with the skirmish mode revealed that this was a very sloppy attempt at fog of war, where you can only see so much of the battlefield. This is normal for an RTS, but the developers made no attempt to show that terrain was being revealed to you as you travel, giving the impression that units just appear. The polish of this game only exists in the shadows given by trees and units and destructible buildings- everything else falls much too short.

This game’s partially saving grace is the skirmish mode. The population cap is lifted, so many more heavy units are allowed, which makes it much more bearable. You have many more resources to start with, the map is much larger and the AI actually attempts to do something to you.

“Attempts” being the key word. The amount of resources provided to you at the beginning makes it so you almost never need to capture any command posts to gain more- you can easily take out your foe within the first five minutes on Normal difficulty. Plus, the frame rate is so low that it almost hurts to watch the action, and the game freezes up constantly- it simply can’t handle that many units on the screen with even little detail.

There are so many more things that frustrate me about this game, such as lack of depth and little visual appeal, but I think my point has been well given. At $7.99, this game is way too overpriced for what’s there. The campaign is boring, it doesn’t feel like Normandy, the AI is uninvolved, and the horrible population cap kept even me from finishing it. The potentially great skirmish mode is marred by horrible framerate and constant freezing along with a terribly high starting resource amount and a lackluster computer opposition. If you still want to try the game out, there is a trial game with two campaign levels and one skirmish map, but trust me, it’s not worth trying at least not at the current price.

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