Reign of Swords is an amazingly well-done game for true strategy fans, with point advantages for those who plan out cavalry charges, flank opponents and wisely position infantry. The graphics may not be stellar, but the game has an impressive amount of depth and complexity that is both addicting, fun and even flexible for on-the-go gameplay.
Let’s skip all of the background and get right to the good stuff: BatTle aCTivIty!!!
In Reign of Swords it works on a basic turn-based system, allowing you to move, attack or pass turns with each character before allowing the opponent to begin acting. This works decently well with the iPhone interface, allowing users to see how many squares a particular troop can move and what the attacking range of an opponent might be before drawing a movement path or selecting someone to attack (groups of troops can also be selected and moved as a formation, using two fingers to highlight the desired units).
What’s impressive is that it really matters how an opponent is attacked, whether he is surrounded, flanked, charged or taken face-to-face (more on this later).
After a rather lengthy (but definitely necessary) tutorial process, Reign of Swords throws you and your meager offering of troops into large and important battles. I guess this is so that you can feel like you’re already contributing to the story and to simultaneously expose you to all of the cool character types and abilities that you don’t yet get to enjoy (it sucks, but the wizards, heroes and knights will have to wait).
But after getting a taste of the glorified battlefield, you’re back on your independent path of slowly building up your army, one encounter at a time. The more armor, weapons, beasts, spirit and lore that is acquired, the more you’ll be able to upgrade, from militiamen and crossbowmen to great swordsmen and musketeers, for example.
After completing the first battle campaign there is an option to create an insignia with a unique design and set of colors. This heraldry will decorate your army and be displayed in online play.
With each success, users will collect “spoils of war” which allow them to upgrade their armies with points and special items.
While a phone call will force the app to relaunch, Reign of Swords autosaves after each move and will allow users to reload without missing a single step (sudden breaks to the home screen are likewise not problematic).
Although it is lengthy and time-consuming, Reign of Swords is an excellent strategy game with few flaws.
Its autosaving capacity makes it flexible and playable on a move-by-move basis, for on-the-go gameplay and interruption.
Its depth and range of character types and options increase its lifespan, as does the online play feature (which allows you to challenge friends by searching for their usernames in the online system).
But most impressively, the game is almost obsessive in the way it rewards for good strategy. It’s important to rotate wounded troops to protected areas for healing, or to plan out a cavalry charge, or to create barriers with specific infantry types. Formations and troop placement is also vital, as is your ability to flank or surround opponents.
In fact, the sheer variety of factors affecting gameplay and success goes on and on, making it complex, but rewarding for skillful players.
Although the graphics are mediocre, the game has the depth and complexity to make it hard to put down.
There are also some control problems: sometimes the movement seems to stick or misplace your selections and they can actually be a little clumsy, overall. For example, a simple click on a desired square for movement (like in similar computer games) would be easier than the arrow drawing, but I guess it does make use of the touch screen and allow users to plan out specific paths for their troops.
Also, while the game allows users to move entire formations, it doesn’t specify how they will be moved. This is frustrating because while you can place a flag on the desired location of your formation, you don’t know what kind of formation your troops will move into. Will it be a set of lines? A flying V? A 4-4-2? You won’t know and you’ll often be surprised by the result. A more usable formation movement option would definitely make the game move much faster (since the current solution involves moving each troop into position individually, which isn’t that horrible, but could be better).
But overall, this is an impressive product that is fun and hard to put down.
If you’re a fan of strategy and traditional war games, look no further than Reign of Swords. It may seem expensive, but it has great value and will definitely keep you engaged for hours.