Get your army ready, because an intense battle is just around the corner!
Swords and Soldiers is a title I adored on a variety of systems, but mostly Wii and iOS. The multiplayer options made it easy to start a match locally, and I had a lot of fun with a friend next to me. In an effort to improve on what is already a good time, developer Ronimo Games decided to take every lesson learned and throw them all into one adorable pile. Swords and Soldiers II builds on the concept of the original, but the tweaks make it something that stands on its own.
If you ever played the original, you will know what to expect a Swords and Soldiers sequel. The game is a sidescrolling strategy adventure in which you don't control the movement of your characters. You can make meaningful choices, however, by building towers, adding units and upgrades, and using magical spells. While there is a certain simplicity to these actions, in theory you are just selecting the set pieces, you could be fooled into thinking that you will learn the tricks in a matter of minutes. The individual tactics make you want to come back for more and try harder when you (sadly) lose. The matches are frantic, and they are most of the time close calls, which makes them quite satisfying. Your goal is to get to the other side of the playing field with the elements at your proposal, and to try to destroy the enemies’ tower.
Each faction has certain ways of making money and mana, and you will have to figure out the best things each side has on offer. This is where the strategic elements come into the play, as at critical moments, you need to decide whether to spend more money or instead save your current units with spells. Swords & Soldiers was quite a risk and reward based endeavor, and remains a simple yet addictive strategy title in its own right.
Just like the original, Swords and Soldiers II has three factions, and two of them have been revealed. We have the Vikings who return from the original, and we also have the new Demon faction, which are quite nasty looking creatures. Both of them have some impressive units on display to make the teams more balanced and approachable. In the case of the Vikings, you still have your regular berserker units in addition to some popular magic spells that make a return (lightning, ice and heal). These spells will protect the units on the playing field and let allow you to play as some sort of godlike figure. For the mana that is needed to use them though, you are now required to build towers, and these will help grow your possibilities to use magic.
As far as units go, we were able to see two that are specific to the Vikings in action. First were the Sheepriders, who are old men riding sheep, and can hurt multiple enemies at the same time. Their power might be limited on their own, but as a group, they are a force to be reckoned with. Then there is the new Super Magic Spell, which replaces the Thor Hammer from the original game. With Ol' Larry at your side, you can use three uppercuts across game field and destroy a bunch of enemies that are in your way. It is also perfect to destroy the Super Unit of other factions across the journey!
During the demo, we got to play a level from the brand new campaign and there are changes to be found here. No longer will there be three separate campaigns to give every faction their own highlights, because ultimately, that made the original drag somewhat. Instead, you will now follow the Viking Boss Red Beard's epic journey across one lengthy trial of levels. In the particular level we saw, we were at Red Beard's grandfather, who just enjoys some nice and relaxing Golf these days. Things are not so pleasant anymore when the Demons attack, and their leader will have to do everything in his power to stop them. He doesn't have many troops, but luckily grandpa lets Red Beard use his lackeys.
You will get club wielding troops at your disposal, and support troops who like to throw meat to keep their friends alive. ‘’These weird mixes will be thrown more often towards you in the campaign,’’ according to the developers. ‘’There will be a level where you will walk with your new moving fortress or have to cleverly combine elements from completely different factions in specific ways.’’ It sounds quite interesting, but we are unsure how it will pan out at this stage. The changes found in the level we enjoyed were clear and pleasant though, so I am quite interested in the outcome of the story.
Swords and Soldiers II had two control options active on the Wii U GamePad. With one of them, you are able to use the sticks and buttons for a more classic feel. By clicking in the ZL or ZR button, you can rotate through the units and spells with the left stick for easy access. This is quite similar to how it was done on the PlayStation 3, but it somehow it felt less clunky on Nintendo's shiny controller. The other option was using the touchscreen, allowing you to tap away at the upgrades and everything else you would need. It feels like a smoother version of the iPad controls, as more precision is required to get you moving on the playing field. You can also use a hybrid of the two, so if you would rather cross the playing field with the stick, that is quite possible. For the local Skirmish mode, you will be able to use every controller you could possibly want – including the Wii Remote and Wii U Pro Controller.
Though I didn't hear much of the music, the game looked beautiful on the Wii U GamePad and television. The level of detail put in the backgrounds and character designs is nothing short of impressive, and already makes me excited for another go. The whole game was colorful and bright, and I believe that it will strike a chord with the Wii U audience.
Swords and Soldiers is looking like a promising title for the Wii U eShop, and there are a lot of things that work already. The lush style, control options, and overall feel of the title do seem to be up to snuff, and it is hard to believe that it will blow us away even further. Of course, there is still a lot to see in regards to the Campaign and Skirmish modes, but the clear foundation is there and well put together. I really can't wait to play more Swords and Soldiers II when it (hopefully) releases during this upcoming autumn season.