iPad Game Review: Great Big War Game for iOS (Universal)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Great Big War Game is Rubicon's latest iteration of their superb turn-based strategy franchise. It features more maps, better graphics, and most notably: asynchronous online multiplayer.
Great Big War Game (GBWG) is a full-featured turn-based strategy game in the style of Advance Wars. In it, you will employ a variety of traditional military units to either fight your way through the extensive single-player campaign or bring the pain to a friend/enemy/stranger. There is the usual assortment of soldiers at your disposal, and they all interact in a familiar and easily understood rock/paper/scissors type of way. Snipers are super strong on offense, but easily damaged, rocket troops are deadly to armor, but almost useless against ground troops, etc. While this type of design may be familiar, rarely is it done with such elegance and balance. As you play through the missions, the first thing you will notice is that the game always manages to stay challenging, but rarely, if ever, becomes frustrating. This kind of design polish can only be achieved with extensive playtesting; something that few developers have the discipline and resource to do. After all, who wants to hold onto a finished game just to make sure that it's as fun as it can be? I'll tell you who: Rubicon.
As I said, GBWG is a full-featured strategy game. It incorporates terrain, fog of war, unit morale, and multiple classes of troops. It achieves this, however, without ever feeling dry or inaccessible. A completely enjoyable series of tutorial missions incorporated into the campaign do a great job of teaching not only the game's basic mechanics, but also strategic and tactical concepts. What's more, it does this so enjoyably that even veteran players won't mind playing through them. The campaign offers easily 40+ hours of play, and the ability to play against the AI in skirmish mode means this game has plenty to offer the solo gamer. What's that? What about multiplayer, you say? Well, Rubicon has delivered the goods in that department, as well. While Great Little War Game offered pass-and-play multiplayer, Great Big War Game offers asynchronous online multiplayer. Further, it backs this up with a robust game matching back-end that will allow you to play your friends or a random opponent with roughly your level of ability. It can keep track of multiple games, features push notifications, and is even cross-platform capable so you and your Android-toting buddies can finally stop arguing and start playing.
Great Big War Game is a thing of beauty. The maps are crisp, the terrain is lush, and the units themselves are smoothly animated with lots of personality. Better still, if you're a proud owner of a retina-capable device, GBWG features full retina support. Lastly, although this is technically a war game, there is a Family Friendly setting that eliminates blood and gore (this is on by default).
I enjoyed the sounds of Great Big War Game, and even left the music enabled as I played, although I never felt compelled to grab my headphones. Unlike Great Little War Game, there is no option to purchase different voice packs. This was not a disappointment for me, however, as I quickly turned-off the unit voices after my first mission in both games. Don't get me wrong, the voices are professionally done, and sound great. They're just a bit jarring and repetitive to me so I disabled them. I'm sure there are many of you who enjoy them; I'm just not among you.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Great Big War Game offers a number of IAP options, all of which offer permanent content such as new maps, new units and the ability to customize your units and base. There is one purchase option that not only unlocks additional maps, but also awards you with battle points to spend on your units. I found these points to be completely optional. If you are concerned that those who pony purchase them will have an advantage in online play, please note that they can be disabled within the game settings screen.
Great Big War Game is a superb turn-based strategy game. It offers tons of single-player content, features asynchronous online play, looks/sounds great, and the IAPs are a model for the industry. Highly recommended without reservation.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Fantastic retina-enabled graphics. Sound: - 5 - Great sound effects, great music, and the voice acting is top-notch. Controls: - 5 - The interface is perfect. It tells you everything you need to know without being cluttered or confusing Gameplay: - 5 - Turn-based strategy heaven for both single and multiplayer gamers.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Play through the tutorial missions in the campaign before you try online play. It will help you learn game mechanics and unit capabilities. Pay attention to the unit you're attacking with, and make sure you're not attacking scissors with paper. Make use of terrain for both cover and range of fire. Remember that this game incorporates fog of war. If you see a lone enemy unit apparently undefended, be careful; there may be others you cannot see!
Developer: Rubicon Release Date: July 17, 2012 Price: $2.99 with additional maps and units available via IAP Buy App: Great Big War