iPad Game Review: Land, Air, Sea Warfare HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Land, Air, Sea Warfare (LASW) is not just a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game for your iPad. Gorgeous graphics, endless replayability, and an impressive variety of units make it the RTS game for your iPad.
As with all RTS games, the basic gameplay involves developing your base, collecting resources, building units, and defeating the enemy. As easy as that sounds, the trick to being successful with these types of games lies in balancing infrastructure development against unit-building. Spend too much on your base and you may get jumped by a swarm of low-level enemy units. Spend too much on early (weak) units and you may find yourself behind the technology curve later in the game.
The touch interface of the iPad lends itself perfectly to RTS games like LASW, actually making them easier to play than they would be on a console or a computer. Need to select a unit? Just tap it. Need to select multiple units? Use two fingers to draw a box around them. While you can still only give one order at a time, the game feels much less stressful because it accepts input from any (or all) of your fingers rather than a single cursor that has to travel back and forth across the screen in increasingly frantic movements.
Beginning a new game is as simple as setting a few parameters and then letting the program generate the map. Yes, that?s right. LASW has a random map generator! For veteran RTS players, this has always been the most important feature in a strategy game because it brings with it endless replayability and endless scenarios and campaigns experience to hone players? skills. The meat of the gameplay in Land Air Sea Warfare is the classic RTS experience and this game offers that in overload. With over 100 types of units and technologies along with 6 monstrous mega units waging wars on 40 landscapes across land, air and sea, these battle are nothing short of epic. How many iPad RTS games have you played that let you control ground infantry, submarines and send out stealth fighter planes all at once to crush the AI opponent?
Weapons too are overwhelming as you send more and more troops, units and super war machines into battle. Bullets, missiles, laser beams, electric shockwaves and more light up the screen once you have a decent number of units on the ground, over the air and in the sea, and watch both sides display the awesome firepower. There are many ways you can win a battle, the most fun one of course is the Deathmatch which means a complete annialation of the opponent, yeah! For more elegant approach to winning, you can assassinate the leader on the other side, or launch a Jericho V ICBM in arm race, or build a mega unit and more. The winning approaches add a huge amount of replay value to players who want to try everything and master them all. And it also adds more intriguing aspect to the gameplay in general as you will need to watch out for many elements of the game.
You plan against an AI opponent each time. The lack of multiplayer, however, is sorely missed, and its addition would take a great single-player RTS and make it a near perfect RTS. Each game lasts about an hour or so, and your progress is saved if you exit prematurely. If you can last until the end game, you will be treated to some truly awesome mega-units that are so much fun to watch, you won?t even mind being vaporized by them.
The graphics in LASW are crisp, varied, and well-animated. Black smoke billows out of units in battle and energy beams light up the map. Even the air units cast shadows, which really add to the game's beauty. The different varieties of units and terrain will keep you interested for many battles to come and will compel you to explore all the different options. Additionally, the developers have managed to select just the right level of zoom to give you a great view of the map while also being able to clearly differentiate your units.
LASW has richly sampled sound effects that complement the game nicely. They even included the obligatory "yes, sir!" and "movin' out!" voices every time you give a unit an order. Thankfully, though, this feature can be limited or completely disabled if you find it tiresome.
The game music is fairly standard fare, but very well-done. You are also given the option to play your iPod music in-game, however, you will need to exit the program to start it as the "iPod Compatible!" button doesn't actually do anything but make a selection sound.
LASW is, hands down, the best RTS game available on any iOS device. It makes excellent use the iPad's screen real estate, has excellent graphics, good sound, and a random map generator to keep you obsessively playing for many months to come. The lack of a campaign may be a negative to some, however, and the greatly missed multiplayer component means you'll be playing solo, at least for the immediate future. The game is also available for desktop PC, Mac and the iPhone. The iPhone version is also has awesome graphics and all the gameplay bits you find in the iPad version.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Beautiful graphics with a huge variety of units to build/destroy Sound: - 4 - Good in-game sounds, decent soundtrack, and basic iPod support Controls: - 5 - The iPad?s touchscreen is perfectly suited to this game, and makes it a joy to play Gameplay: - 4 - Unparalleled single-player RTS experience for the iPad. No campaign may rankle some, but the game is very strong without it. No multiplayer is missed, however.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Play your first few games with the map completely revealed. It's a sure bet the computer knows exactly where you are so this will even the odds while you're getting your feet wet. Holding your finger on a unit/building/etc will cause a tooltip to pop up with details about the item you have selected. Spend at least one game just watching what your opponents build, and in what order. You will lose, of course, but you will be the wiser for it.