Total War Battles is an interesting take on the real-time strategy genre. Instead of sprawling environments, you’re given side-scrolling maps with a hexagonal grid system.
Has Sega finally figured out how to successfully recreate a real-time strategy experience on a touch screen? Kind of.
Matches follow the standard RTS tradition of laying down buildings to collect resources and create troops, then building up an army to overwhelm the opponent. Each building takes up a different grid pattern and has restrictions as to where it can be placed in relation to other buildings, not to mention bonuses if played next to certain environments, thus giving this aspect of the game a heavy puzzle element.
Certain buildings can create units. There’s a lot of variety here, from ranged to infantry on horseback (faster movement speed) to heavy defense and so on. It’s a little overwhelming and can be hard to remember which buildings allow you to create certain units, but we appreciate the customizability Total War Battles gives players over crafting their army.
Units can only move forwards on the battlefield. You can order them to move one row up or down although once you do, that order becomes locked under a cool down timer. It’s an interesting way to simplify the game, but we feel that the option to have forces retreat would make the game much easier on newcomers. Also of note is that you can’t move ranged units once they’ve entered combat, which makes them easy fodder for cannons and thus not very useful.
Story missions often revolve around killing a certain amount of enemy infantry or a specific enemy unit. Special branching missions that offer experience for unit and building upgrades follow a puzzle formula where you must work with pre-set conditions. For example, an early puzzle mission asks you to place buildings in an environment in such a way that you can fit seven “shrines.” These are quite tough but the reward they offer plus the change of pace is a great motivation to complete them.
Total War Battles has a lengthy single-player campaign and single-device multiplayer, although the latter mode is quite cramped. This is a game that would greatly benefit from online (or even local multi-device) multiplayer. On the single-player side, a skirmish mode and multiple difficulty settings would great additions.
It’s not a revolution for the RTS genre for iOS, but that doesn’t stop Total War Battles from being a fine game. $6.99 is a hefty price, but don’t let that stop you from picking this up if you’re a buff of the genre or just curious otherwise.