|Multiplayer:||Yes, pass n play or through mecho.net private servers|
|AI:||Yes, 1 level, and escalating difficulty in the campaign|
|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
|Purchase for iPhone:||Use link below to purchase universal app|
|Purchase for iPad:||
GD Star RatingMecho Wars,
Once upon a time, the dream of many an iOS device owner was to play classic Gameboy games like Advanced Wars. Due to Apple’s policies, this is possible only if you jailbreak (which comes with its own issues) or are willing to set your clock back continually. Looking for a third option?
If Great Big War Game is a love letter to Advance Wars, Mecho Wars is the undeniably beautiful but creepily realistic gynoid look-alike.
MW features the same turn-based, rock-scissors-paper (in this case, heavy units -> infantry -> air units) gameplay that made AW and GBWG so addictive. The basic premise of each duel is 2 sides, each starting with a basic unit or two, cities, and factories. Infantry can capture neutral or opposing cities and factories – the former provides income, the latter both lets you build new units with said income and support armies of greater sizes. Capturing enemy installations thus becomes critical both to increase your own resources and deny your enemy. This does tend to lead to a bit of the rich-get-richer problem seen in tactical war games like Risk, but a game of MW usually lasts a fraction of the time.
When a unit is moved, a contextual menu pops up with various options – Stay, Attack, Replenish (when appropriate) or Capture an unallied structure. Combat is purely deterministic – a given unit will do a certain amount of damage against another given unit, scaled down in percentages based on the health of the attacking unit. Terrain types give modifiers both to movement and to combat, and each unit can move and then act once per turn. First person to capture the enemy HQ wins.
This description sounds very dry – mechanically the game is fairly simplistic – but as in the games from which it garners ahem inspiration, there is a lot of tactical depth to be plumed here. There are just enough units to make the RSP gameplay interesting, with the additional spoiler of naval units that have devastating power but limited mobility. The game oozes charm, with units each having a distinct look and a little dance they perform when idle on the main map; combat zooms in on each unit and shows an unnecessary but amazingly detailed combat animation, with downed enemies sliding bloodlessly off the screen. This is the friendly face of war, and a great introduction for younger players.
MW features two story-arc campaigns detailing the conflict between the Landians and the Winged Crusade. The first five or so missions of the first campaign are purely tutorial to get you used to the interface and unit capabilities; it becomes fairly obvious when the game switches into high gear. The tutorial doesn’t hold your hand, but points out the necessary concepts and makes it very clear when you need a do-over.
The interface is also crammed full of information. The interface for purchasing new units shows you at a glance the strengths and weaknesses of each available option, and unlike AW or GBWG, you can build aerial units and ground units alike at your factories. Tapping any unit (friendly or enemy) shows its movement range, and when you select an available friendly unit on a turn, potential targets are highlighted for ease of planning.
Setting up an online presence was a little rocky. The interface works, but is not super friendly; you will be required to reply to a confirmation email outside the game’s interface, and you cannot paste the randomly-generated password back in when logging in next. Once through that hurdle, though, setting up online games is a breeze. There are not as many potential opponents as you might find in, say, Magic the Gathering, but the small community around the game is fairly passionate, and it shouldn’t take too long to find an opponent. Note also that we had a few crashes playing this game on an iPad 2. This was hardly catastrophic; the game does an excellent job of auto-saving your matches, and practicing good memory hygiene seemed to solve most issues temporarily, but they did seem to recur. We suspect this won’t be an issue on newer hardware.
If small but tactically rich wargames are your thing, MW is one of the better options out there. This game holds no particular surprises for fans of the genre, but everything that appears here is polished and well presented. There’s some room for streamlining in the memory management and online setup, but once you’ve jumped those hurdles, there’s plenty to chew on in this charming little duel to the death.