Developer: TBS Games LLC
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
UniWar - Please briefly indulge me while I provide a little preamble for this review…I consider the turn based strategy genre as an acquired taste. In my experience, folks tend to either love them or hate them, with few falling somewhere in the middle of those extremes. So if you’re not a fan of the genre, UniWar will not likely sway your perception. If you are a fan though, Xpressed has created an amazing piece of software in UniWar that will astound and challenge you at the same time.
As an overly simplistic explanation of what happens on UniWar’s battlefield, I’ll describe the flow of the strategic combat you’ll find here. On a map that looks like a honeycomb, you’ll need to capture bases to acquire credits. When armed with enough credits, you can buy military units to use to build out your army. Once you’re armed sufficiently, you can systematically deploy your army across the map to defeat the opposing army. Granted I’m leaving out quite a few details on the minutiae of the combat, this is a fairly representative top-level brief. To guide players along, Xpressed has seamlessly integrated a very helpful tutorial right into the beginning of the UniWar's campaign mode.
The guys over at Xpressed did a really smart thing by building the foundation of UniWar from two established and acclaimed franchises in Advance Wars (from a gameplay perspective) and Starcraft (from an aesthetic perspective). The fusion created here isn’t necessarily original, but it’s effective.
Initially in Uniwar, you start your game by selecting one of three character races. All three races (i.e. humans, aliens, or robots) have pros and cons so there’s a bit of a rock-scissors-paper aspect in play to prevent any game-breaking advantages. Each race has units that cover three specialties (ground, water, and air) that can be leveraged through buying them.
UniWar's campaign mode is fun and challenging. Each mission (21 in total) has as a list of objectives to complete. There’s some good variety in objectives (e.g. destroy enemy units, capture bases, convert enemies, etc.), but clearly the point of the campaign mode is to essentially train you to take on the world through the game’s online multiplayer component.
UniWar has the most robust online feature set I’ve seen on an iPhone game. I’ll go as far as to suggest that UniWar will out-duel many Nintendo DS and PSP multiplayer games as well. Not only can you play and text chat in real-time for up to 8 players, you can play upwards of 20 games at once too. Xpressed can get away with this because latency isn’t a factor in turn based games, but it’s an impressive flex of their technology nonetheless. Other notable online features for UniWar include a ridiculous number of multiplayer maps (50!), in-game player profiles, stat tracking, and worldwide leaderboards. While I routinely kept getting my butt kicked, performance was great on both 3G and WIFI connections.
I don’t mean to come off as a fanboy on this review, but I’m truly in awe of everything that has been captured and neatly packaged in UniWar. Even with some minor user flow issues (e.g. clumsy text chat), I can’t imagine a fan of strategy games not having a great time here. With polished gameplay, deep strategy, great presentation, and the best online implementation out there; I have no reservations about bestowing the ultimate honor upon UniWar.