Game

A sequel to the well received strategy game, but most of the changes feel purely cosmetic.

Here at TapSmart, we’ve long espoused Apple’s mobile devices as ideal for turn-based games: the touch screen displays are perfect for manipulating your units, and the power of the iPhone and iPad give developers plenty of muscle to make smart A.I. opponents. In fact, we found our opponents in the original Great Little War Game to be a bit too smart; it’s been a while since we last played (it was released in 2011) but we have recollections of the game becoming fiercely attritional right from the start – and consequently rather frustrating.

Fortunately GLWG2 is much more user-friendly – possibly being a bit too easy this time round. We’ve breezed through the first dozen stages, but the game has 60 to battle through, so we suspect the last few will considerably tougher!

Stars provide extra Battle Points, but are usually found in less-accessible places

Stars provide extra Battle Points, but are usually found in less-accessible places

If you’ve not played Great Little War Game, it’s very much the embodiment of the turn-based strategic war game, distilled down to its simplest elements. The game features a variety of infantry, tanks, vehicles, ships and aircraft, and each unit has specific amounts of movement, attack and defence. It’s up to you to figure out the best way to deploy them: do you spend all your money building one tank, or will three bazooka troops be more flexible; should you position snipers up on the ridge, or just go for a frontal assault, all guns blazing? There are also different goals for each stage, such as defend your base for a number of turns, kill the enemy commander, destroy the rival base and so on.

It’s hard not to mention Nintendo’s genre-defining Advance Wars in comparison with any turn-based strategy game, and the similarities here are pretty obvious (with the exception of the gorgeous 3D graphics). But that’s no bad thing: we’ve long yearned for a return to the Game Boy Advance classic, and GLWG2 neatly fits the bill.

Between stages you can spend Battle Points on upgrading your forces

Between stages you can spend Battle Points on upgrading your forces

More of the same

Fans of the original might well be looking at the screenshots and wondering what’s new; at first glance the sequel looks an awful lot like its predecessor. One of the major differences is that the game is represented in portrait mode on the iPhone, for “easier use”. Weirdly gamers have already criticised it for this choice, but frankly we don’t see the issue. For one thing, the amount of screen real estate is the same either way, and while it’s natural to hold the phone vertically, having to rotate it to answer a call or respond to a text message is hardly one of life’s more demanding problems. Some people need to get a little perspective.

Other than that, the major improvements seem to be largely cosmetic, with destructible buildings and other visual niceties, with other minor gameplay tweaks. Also, gone are the ‘humorous’ cut-scenes of the original, which is fine by us. The game may have lost a little of its character perhaps, but we’re more interested in the actual game than cosmetic fripperies.

Engineers can capture resources and even take over bases and factories

Engineers can capture resources and even take over bases and factories

So, ostensibly, GLWG2 is more of the same, but with the omission of any multiplayer options. Both the pass ‘n’ play and online options have been axed and while some may malign that decision, again we’re not that concerned. We have plenty of other games to play online (curse your addiction, Hearthstone), and we’ll happily take an extended campaign over a multiplayer mode, which, we assume, took effort to maintain and wasn’t very well populated.

But as mentioned earlier, this sequel feels much more approachable with smaller maps, no fog of war, and a far shallower learning curve. As such, progress has been quite rapid, and we’re already much more engaged than we were with its tricky predecessor. If you’re new to this type of game, this is a great place to start.

The enemy base takes a pounding from our armour

The enemy base takes a pounding from our armour

So overall we’re pretty happy with this streamlined sequel: it feels tighter, with shorter, sharper missions, suited to its mobile hoist, and is, so far, much more engaging. There’s also no in-app purchases or ‘freemium’ nonsense. Of course, if you find that you need something a bit meatier, you can always revert to the original (or its follow-up Great Big War Game), for many days of turn-based action. War has never been so entertaining.

Price: $2.99 / £1.99
Size: 60.0 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iOS Universal (Exceptions listed)
Developer: Rubicon Mobile

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Great Little War Game 2 Review: More of the same
It might have lost some of its hardcore appeal, but newcomers and casual gamers will enjoy this light-hearted take on the strategy genre
For
  • Amazing 3D graphics
  • Fun strategy gaming
  • Loads of levels
Against
  • No multiplayer options
  • A bit too easy at the start
  • Some might not like portrait mode
4.3Overall Score