iPad Game Review: Red Rover - The War To End All Wars Reviewed by Tom Slayton
The title (Red Rover) is homage to the schoolyard game we all played as children. In this version, however, instead of smiling children trying to burst through the clasped hands of their giggling peers, you get WWI weaponry trying to kill you. The objective is the same, however; break through your opponent's defenses while successfully preventing him/her from doing the same to you. Red Rover, Red Rover, send Infantry on over?
The most important thing to point out about Red Rover is that it is multiplayer only. Although a single player campaign is reportedly in the works, if you want to play it right now, you will have to find another human. If you?ve spent some time around the App Store lately, you are probably aware that this release strategy is not unique to the folks at Mantid Interactive. What is interesting, however, is that the controversy still rages over whether to develop a single-player experience first, or a multiplayer one. While I would obviously prefer to have both at launch, I can understand the need to get a product out the door.
Gameplay in Red Rover involves purchasing defenses, which are static, offensive units, which slowly advance toward the enemy, and specialized units such as Supply and Air Support. Once units are placed, they are confined to a particular column, and your opponent must respond to this threat or face defeat. As with all games of this type, the units have a rock/paper/scissors relationship to one another, preventing you from simply spamming a particular unit type and winning by luck or attrition. Tanks are devastating to Infantry while at range, but vulnerable up close. Cannon have an even greater range and power than Tanks, but are fragile. Will you go after your opponent?s Supplies, effectively crippling his ability to reinforce? Alternatively, you could try a blitz in a single column, hoping to punch a hole in his defenses (watch out for an airstrike!). The game is great fun when played head-to-head on a single device where it feels more like an electronic tabletop game than anything else. This results in a great deal of trash talk and taunts when played with a 9-year old so proceed with caution. Online play is also available (complete with voice chat) via Game Center, however, I was never able to find an opponent to try it out, which brings us back to my original gripe. The game also supports Game Center Achievements, which should be good news for the obsessive completionists out there. Lastly, Red Rover could benefit greatly from additional maps and units; both of which would significantly increase the game?s replay value.
Red Rover sports excellent menus and has a nicely polished look to it. The units on the game screen, however, are a bit underwhelming. They are just marginally animated and only show damage via a health bar. While purists will argue that flashy graphics are unnecessary if the gameplay is solid, I disagree. If this were true, everything would be done in doodle graphics and be animated at 5fps. The graphics in Red Rover certainly rise far above that. Unfortunately, they left me feeling like I didn't have much to look at while my son's British forces slowly destroyed me.
The sound effects in Red Rover are minimal, bordering on simplistic. This may be a conscious choice on the part of the developers but it resulted in me ultimately turning the sound off, which had no effect on the gameplay. The rousing soundtrack is enjoyable, however.
While Red Rover feels a bit underwhelming in the graphics and sound department, it is a great deal of fun to play head-to-head on the same device. Online play is also an option if you can find an opponent. The game was released as multiplayer only, however, a single-player campaign is reportedly in the works, and I will update this review accordingly when it comes available.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - Definitely could use a facelift. Sound: - 2 - Not a lot to like about the sound. Controls: - 5 - A responsive and intuitive touch interface. Gameplay: - 4 - Easy to learn, hard to master. Needs single-player.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't go for the quick kill. Take some time to set up your defenses and be ready to change strategies quickly as opportunities reveal themselves. Combined arms will rule the day.