Review: Swords & Soldiers for PS3

Walk right. Kill things. A simple philosophy.

Swords & Soldiers by Ronimo Games is a classic tower defense game. You have a base on the left side of the screen. Things come from the right side of the screen. You have units. You use these units to defend your tower and blow up the other guy’s tower. Its simple, its effective, its tried and true. And it might seem like its a thing that does nothing to stand out from the crowd. In concept, you might be right. But stand out it does, mostly through its quirky art design and fun character units.

You get to play as three separate factions. You get the Vikings, the Aztecs and the Chinese. Each faction has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Vikings can upgrade their magic regeneration rate so that they can cast more spells, even though fully upgrading costs a lot. The Aztecs, on the other hand, have only their base magic regeneration rate. However, you can sacrifice followings for mana and increase your magic in that regard. It will take playing through all three of the faction’s campaigns, each with ten missions, to figure out which faction you are most comfortable with in the mulitplayer.

Yes my pretties. Walk to the right. Kill everything you find there!

Sounds pretty standard, right? A bit old hat? Well, I told you before that it does stand out, and I maintain that position. For starters, the art style is just plain fun. Cartoony characters full of life and energy make interacting with this game a joy. This is one of the things that makes fellow tower defense game Plants Vs. Zombies such a success. Having pea shooters take out zombies with buckets on their heads is fun. Likewise sending magical monkeys after Aztec panther warriors who proclaim, “I’m Catman!” in the Christian Bale growl voice is a hoot. Sometimes, when playing the Aztecs, I just keep creating panther warriors just to hear them say that. Another fun Batman reference is that, when a game starts you see the Swords & Soldiers logo come flying at you with the background spinning around like the classic transition from the 60′s Batman show. Its the little touches like that that keeps this game above the other me too tower defense games.

One more quick note. I had forgotten how much I suck at strategy games. Well, let me amend that statement. I had forgotten how much I suck at multiplayer strategy games. I have a rule I try to follow in my life. I don’t play strategy games with friends. I always lose. Not only does constantly losing at strategy games suck, but with strategy games in particular it just makes me feel stupid. Fighting games, FPS games, those are about skill. Strategy games, those require brain power. Apparently, I don’t have that, and I don’t like being reminded of that by people I’m supposed to like. With Swords & Soldiers its no different. I got throttled. Mercilessly. Yet, for some reason, I didn’t mind. I didn’t care. I was still having a good time. The dull witted rage was not coming. That has only happened with one other strategy game: Worms. If you read my Worms review, you know how much I like Worms. So I think that’s the best recommendation I can give this. Its so much fun I don’t mind losing. What more could you ask for?

Well, to win. But these guys are game makers, not miracle workers. I can only expect so much from them.

Swords & Soldiers is available now on PSN, WiiWare, and is coming soon to PC.

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