Every so often there’s a game which takes elements from genres that you don’t usually find interest in.
Turn based strategy games aren’t my cup of tea, but when I played the newly released Mecho Wars,the entire genre begun to finally make sense.
Mecho Wars is an old school strategy game much like Advance Wars for the original Gameboy Advance. Players take on the persona of a “Rookie”, learning the ropes to command the Winged Crusade against the “Landians”. The entire game, in a way, is a tutorial. Or at least that’s the method that it’s conveyed to the player through the dialogue with the General and Rookie at the beginning of the campaign missions.
For those who are experienced with the genre, the simplicity might be a turn off, but to newcomers to games like this, you will be encouraged by the perfectly scaling difficulty of the single player levels, plus the fact that you always know your exact objective and how to achieve it before being thrown into some very well designed conflicts is very reassuring.
The object of Mecho Wars is simple: push your way across the level and slowly capture enemy bases and supplies. Controlling your army is done perfectly to suit the iPhone touch screen: tap a unit to select it and you’re able to view the available spaces that it can move. Also upon tapping a unit a small menu comes up which allows players to attack an enemy within range, or be dismissed to free up unit places.
The menus are designed in a way so that the ‘’buttons’’ are big enough to easily hit, and it also makes it hard to hit something completely wrong, which renders your turn for that unit useless. Each side takes its turn, followed by the environment cycling through an hour. In the early hours of the morning the water on the map will freeze, completely changing the map for about five turns, allowing any ground based units to cross freely.
Mecho Wars operates on a Rock, Paper Scissors premise: infantry beats air, air beats tanks, and tanks beat infantry. The units are introduced in a way which do not vex the player but explain what each unit does, and its strengths and weaknesses. However, you will only learn of this Rock, Paper, Scissors rule a good way into the lengthy campaign. Please note that the single player campaign in Mecho Wars can be taxing for players who have never touched a strategy game: but if you keep at it, you’ll pick it up soon enough.
More often than not, your army will begin to mass in a section of the map on the offense only to be destroyed by a plethora of enemy units. Getting through some missions can be best described as a wrestling match. Both sides struggle, one begins to pull in front, other side rises up, and other side unleashes and destroys anything in its path.
The balancing of the enemy difficulty may seem to be sided in their favor, but you are always equipped to handle the job. The sheer length of the battles may make them seem so be difficult, when in fact it’s just the general sway of the gameplay which, once you’re past the learning curve, is a blast to plan and develop complex tactics. Being able to skip over enemy turns (which become difficult to watch your army be destroyed right before you) is a nice addition, and speeds up what can be some rather long battles
Visually, the units all have a great semi-fantasy and mechanical look to them. The animations for the attacks and explosions all work well with the games art style. The music, although repetitive, is pleasant to listen to, though the a lack of iPod music support, which seems to have become a mandatory feature in other apps is a bit of a letdown.
Mecho Wars does everything right to suit the iPhone platform. The touch screen controls are well balanced, and compelling gameplay can make for some lengthy struggles over water, land, air and ice. Any game that I can play casually while making pancakes simultaneosly is a winner in my eyes.
Mecho Wars deserves an 8.5 out of 10.