A rad follow-up to a great game.
If there was one Wii U eShop game that I couldn't stop talking about, it would have been likely Swords & Soldiers II. At many moments throughout 2014, I got to play snippets of the game and walked away impressed every single time. Looking back at those sessions, that opinion was totally warranted and still have fond memories of putting my hands around that Wii U GamePad. Now I had the chance to give it my all in the final version of the game and I was happy with how it turned out. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few kinks, but they are minor in the grand scheme of things.
If you ever played the original, you will know what to expect from a Swords & Soldiers sequel. The game is a sidescrolling real-time 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 disposal, and to try to destroy the enemies’ chamber of command.
To give this game its own flavor though, the three factions have been shaken to its core. While the Vikings have returned, the Demons and Persians are introduced here to add some spice. 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 II is quite a risk and reward based endeavor, and remains a simple yet addictive strategy title in its own right. The amount of fresh faces in your arsenal is outstanding and I would be wasting your time by describing every one of them. The true test is testing them out and seeing what works for you personally!
The game's set of features have also been changed up. In the original game, there used to be three campaigns of ten missions each. Swords & Soldiers II now features one single campaign, which brings missions and other elements to a gigantic world map. While the actual campaign only features 15 missions, there are open battles and bonus challenges to increase the overall enjoyment of the venture. While the other stages are known entities, open battles are the big newcomer here. You will be able to make your own selection of units from different factions and experiment with them as you wish. It is an excellent way to learn your favorite units and try brand new strategies in the process. In the end, the campaign does feel somewhat shorter than before. While there are extra objectives to tackle in each stage, I simply didn't want the story to end just yet.
Next to the campaign, there are options to play battles in local multiplayer and against the computer. While it is a shame that online multiplayer still isn't an option, this still proved a quality time. The three different factions can be used to their full extent on various multiplayer specific maps, each with very different attributes and ways to outsmart your opponent. In one map, players will not encounter gold mines and will need to pick up gold and mana from the battlefield instead. Another map gives players barely room to move or escape, which results most immediately in an epic clash. Players can costumize their matches by applying rules as starting with 2000 gold or mana and making units cheaper. Just like in the open battles, players can even make their own custom teams and add more strategy to the bout.
The good thing is that friends won't be able to peek at one another's screen. One player will be using the Wii U GamePad and can use both buttons or the touchscreen to select units or apply spells. Both methods work incredibly well, so it is just a matter of what you prefer using. The other will put their hands on a Pro Controller and will benefit from the real estate on the television.
Swords & Soldiers II's presentation is absolutely incredible. With a colorful drawn look and colorful attributes, this game was simply made to be played on the Wii U. The soundtrack and its sound effects deserve the exact same praise, but the biggest trophy must be given to the voices in the game. They are so quirky, even if they barely say anything at all. The only character who really speaks throughout the campaign is Brokenbeard, who gives an introduction for every mission and he sounds wonderful.
Swords & Soldiers II is a follow-up that is exciting for lovers of the original. With three factions containing fresh new faces, this game delivers at being fun solo or with your pals. While the single-player campaign could have longer and the game really deserves online multiplayer, there are still good times to be had for all. You will be in awe with the game's various mechanics and just how well this adventure looks.