Drive on Moscow is a Deep, historically accurate, and surprisingly accessible operational level wargame based on World War II battles in Russia.
If you've never played a real wargame, then you can't know the tedious grind they can be for all but the most die-hard of grognards. These specialized boardgames typically come with thick rulebooks, detailed maps, and have a learning curve so inaccessible that the only realistic way a novice gamer would be able to play is to be taught by a very patient group of friends. When these games became computerized, it helped players keep track of the rules and maps, but it didn't make the gameplay any more accessible. Fortunately, developers have not been idle in the years since Kampfgruppe was released for the Commodore 64 in 1987. Fast-forward to 2013 and the release of Drive on Moscow for iOS. Utilizing the same interface as its predecessor, Battle of the Bulge, this game places you in the boots of either a Russian or Axis commander in an attempt to either relive history, or rewrite it.
Units are represented by small markers that provide important information at-a-glance, and movement is handled in a turn-based fashion as you attempt to move between map zones. Unlike most beer and pretzel strategy games, combat is not resolved quickly. Instead, as history has shown time and again, winning battles hinges on the ability to wear down your opponent without being worn down yourself. Supply, morale, weather, terrain, unit type, etc. all play a part in determining the effectiveness of individual units, and knowing where to apply pressure and when, feels far more like art than science. There's a surprisingly complex range of strategies and tactics here; all of which will reveal themselves in time as you play.
For new players, there is a very effective tutorial, and the A.I. at the lowest levels is very forgiving. More experienced players, however, will enjoy the recent 2.0 update, which added a new, more formidable A.I. level. While there is plenty of solo game here to give iOS gamers their money's worth, Drive On Moscow's staying power comes from its strong online multiplayer component. Most online players are highly skilled, though, so cut your teeth on the A.I. before venturing into the wilds of the internets. Lastly, online gamers will rejoice in the knowledge that Drive on Moscow offers unlimited real time chat with your opponent; something that was missing in Battle of the Bulge.
The graphics of Drive on Moscow are simply outstanding. Fully retina-ready, the map almost pops with detail, and gets even better when zoomed-in! Further, the game map will change to reflect the weather; this is important because weather plays such a huge role here, just as it did during the actual World War II battles. Looking beyond the map, however, things still look great. The interface is organized, intuitive, and clean; and even the little unit markers come to life during battles, emitting puffs of smoke as they exchange fire with one another.
The soundtrack consists of a rousing Russian composition, which, thankfully, only plays while accessing the menus. The game's sound effects are just right, however, and do a great job of drawing you into the game without ever sounding pesky or repetitive.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Drive on Moscow offers no IAPs of any kind.
If you have even a passing interest in wargames, I can't recommend Drive on Moscow highly enough. It's accessible yet deep, beautiful to look at, and offers such a staggering amount of content that, once hooked, you are unlikely to ever remove it from your device.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Gorgeous maps, great interface, subtle yet polished animations. Sound: - 4 - Subtle yet good sound effects. Controls: - 5 - A lot of thought went into this intuitive interface. Gameplay: - 5 - A staggering amount of content and a solid online multiplayer component give this game some serious legs.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Finish the campaign before you play online; human opponents are much tougher than the A.I. You can only resupply certain units so keep this in mind before you deplete your forces. Rivers will freeze in winter, eliminating their defensive advantage; If you're playing the axis, you would do well to remember this.