|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ronimo Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ronimo Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When Wii was first revealed, many folks initially imagined two genres that would sit perfectly within the annals of the systems library: first-person shooters and real-time strategy games. With titles such as Metroid Prime: Corruption, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, and the soon-to-be-released The Conduit, weve definitely got our fair share of first-person action. However, the RTS pickings are still quite slim, so we were very excited to finally get our hands on Ronimos latest WiiWare creation, Swords & Soldiers.
Swords & Soldiers is a toonie, very tongue-in-cheek adventure that offers lots of entertainment through its humor, deep gameplay, and robust presentation. Its a bit Warcraft, a bit Tower Defense, and a whole lot of fun.
Upon loading up this $10 download, youll select from one of six save slots to begin your journey. Theres both a single-player option and multiplayer, and when playing solo, youve got Campaign, Skirmishes, and Challenges. The Campaign, of course, is where the meat of the package can be found, and youll eventually play as three different races, beginning with the Vikings.
The first campaign starts out by teaching you the basics, and the game utilizes a simple interface thats comprised of clicking on icons, located at the top of the screen, in order to research, spawn units, and cast spells. Its a very straightforward experience that uses just the Wii Remote in a way thats accessible without compromising gameplay depth.
Like Warcraft, most skirmishes will require you to spawn gatherer units that will automatically keep the gold flowing into your base. Youll then need to research the ability to spawn units such as the berserker (melee) or axe thrower, as well as research spells for healing your army or raining down destruction upon your foes. Theres a research tree in place, so you can only research certain spells and units after youve first paid to research the ones that come before it. Its a great system that requires little time to master, yet youll be forced to try various strategies in order to successfully complete each skirmish.
Though many aspects of the game exhibit fundamentals akin to your average PC RTS, Swords & Soldiers takes a more simple approach in terms of execution. The game is played on a 2D plane, and once you summon a unit, it marches off under its own power to meet the enemy. Your main control lies in what you research and in what order, when and what units to summon, and casting spells when theyre most effective. Its a system that works and works well. The only real drawback is that with 2D sprites it can become a bit difficult to accurately target units to cast spells upon. That said, most spells have an area of effect, so there is some compensation for this issue.
Since the game is played from a side-scrolling perspective, youll simply need to move the camera from side to side in order to view the battlefield. This can be done in a number of ways, each of which will prove useful depending on whats going on at a particular moment during a skirmish. You can point toward the edge of the screen and the camera will scroll, or you can use the D-pad on the Wii Remote to scroll the camera a bit faster. Of course, considering the battlefield is usually one, long stretch of land, youll often want a quick view of a specific area of the map. Theres a mini-map on the bottom of the screen, which shows units both enemy and ally and you can simply point at a certain area of the map and press B to quickly jump to that view of the screen.
One of the things that make Swords & Soldiers such a refreshing RTS experience is the diversity of its skirmishes and races. Within each campaign theres a great variety of gameplay types, from simple tug-of-war-style skirmishes, to missions that require you to defend your castle until back-up arrives. Additionally, each of the three races Viking, Aztec, and Chinese present you with a new set of units types, spells, and other gameplay elements that make for a unique romp every time you take up the mantle of one of these uber-silly civilizations.