Autumn Dynasty is a full-featured, high-quality real-time strategy game for iPad. From the beautiful Asian themed artwork to the robust multiplayer to the excellent single-player campaign, Autumn Dynasty is a keeper in every way.
Real-time strategy games are a natural fit for touchscreen devices, and Autumn Dynasty could easily qualify as the iOS poster child in this regard. When I launched it for the first time, I was a bit daunted when I failed to find a game manual anywhere within the application. However, once I finished playing the first map, my fears evaporated, and I found myself manipulating the game elements with ease. The reason for this wasn't simply because Autumn Dynasty includes a full-featured tutorial (which it does). The reason I was so comfortable with this game so quickly is because the interface makes sense. Tap to select, draw a circle around multiple armies to select more than one unit, and swipe to send them on their way.
Building is equally simple; tap one of the pre-determined build locations and choose which building you want to install, or tap on an existing building to access its features or upgrade it. It all works so elegantly, and achieves that rare level of design where you don't even have to think about the interface while you play. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that terrain can make a big difference on the outcome of battles. A word to the wise: the computer isn't shy about taking the high ground or hiding in forests so neither should you be.
To be successful, you will need to collect resources, upgrade your units, and make hard research choices (this last one only applies to skirmish mode). Are you going to try to develop a particularly deadly unit to build your armies around, or will you instead strive to give yourself an economic advantage? These choices (and others) serve to keep the game fresh as you return to it again and again. The single-player campaign is nicely designed and includes a great deal of scripted events to keep it fresh. However, as with all RTS games, I particularly enjoyed the pick-up and play skirmish mode's more open feel, probably due to the fact that I cut my teeth on Total Annihilation back in the 90's. For a real hoot, though, you're going to need to find a human opponent. Fortunately, Autumn Dynasty excels in this regard, as well, in that it supports matchmaking both locally via Bluetooth and globally via Game Center. The connection is robust and even offers voice chat. Autumn Dynasty fully supports leaderboards and achievements via Game Center.
The current version of Autumn Dynasty does not allow you to save your progress within individual missions. The developer, however, is working on a fix for this. Until it goes live, please keep in mind that if you quit the app during a mission, you will need to restart that mission when you return.
I freely admit that I'm a sucker for eye-candy, and Autumn Dynasty delivers an incredibly beautiful gaming experience. Drawn in the style of Asian brush painting, it looks more like an animated painting than a video game. If you have a 3rd generation iPad, however, you're in for a special treat as it has been updated to leverage that device's retina display. Unit animation is fluid, and even the menus are pleasing to the eye.
The sound effects and music of Autumn Dynasty are fully up the game's production standards in other areas. That's right, folks, break out the headphones for this one; it's worth it.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
No IAPs of any kind, which is great news.
Autumn Dynasty raises the bar for RTS games on iOS. The interface is intuitive and organized and the music/sound are top notch. Most importantly, however, is that it is complete, full-featured, and really fun to play. Autumn Dynasty gets my highest recommendation.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Asian brush painting styled graphics. Unique and beautiful. Sound: - 5 - Beautiful music that you won't be turning down, and sound effects that truly enhance gameplay. Controls: - 5 - Intuitive, organized, and accurate touch interface. You'll be up and playing in moments, and will never feel lost or confused. Gameplay: - 5 - One of the best, if not THE best RTS game available for iOS.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't rely on a single unit type as combined arms will almost always win the day. Remember to make full use of the terrain. Don't neglect your economy. You will need resources to finance your war. If you're new to RTS games, start on the newly added Novice Difficulty Level. You'll thank me...