Real Time Strategy and Roleplaying mechanics aren't the most comfortable bedfellows - but when they manage to snuggle up properly, the result can be absolutely astonishing. Just ask Dawn Of War II.
And now you can also ask Battleheart, which is practically the poster boy for "Best Of Both Worlds." As well as being one of the most satisfying tactical experiences on the App Store.
In order to pursue the perfunctory (and satisfactorily tongue-in-cheek) plot, players need to recruit a small team of adorable mercenaries to do battle on simple 1-screen arenas. Commanding a unit to move or attack is as simple as dragging your finger towards the target, and abilities can be unleashed with a simple tap. It's instantly accessible and satisfying to be sure, but on the face of things, you might assume that Battleheart is a little on the shallow side.
However, the tactical depth comes from your choice of units and how you decide to equip them. Soldiers act as defensive tanks, Wizards summon frost and fireballs, Barbarians dish out major damage and healers... well... they heal. New classes and heroes become unlockable as you level up your forces and complete levels - and pack unique skills that become available as they gain levels.
New items can be bought or upgraded with money earned from completing stages - and rather than getting stuck on tough levels, players can opt to replay past battles for more experience and moolah. The necessity of grinding every so often may deter some players, but when the action is so much fun, I'm loathe to complain.
In terms of presentation, Battleheart looks great (as crisp and clean as you'd imagine) and plays well on an iPhone... but for the full experience, I'd urge you to play it on the iPad if at all possible. The expanded play area allows you greater precision in the heat of combat, as well as cutting out on accidentally selecting the wrong character if they're spaced less than a fingertip apart. The cutesy art design and capable SFX compliment the experience and allow it to appeal to both the casual and hardcore tactical scene.
Finally, Battleheart provides a staggering amount of value for its meagre price tag. Quite frankly, I'm having trouble finding a single reason why you shouldn't go ahead and download it.
- Finally: strategy action for the masses!
- Addictive RPG character advancement
- Attractive presentation
- Grinding by necessity
- Can be fiddly on the iPhone
Summary: Battleheart is certainly not the most in-depth strategy experience on the App Store. But it definitely is the cutest... and it may well be the best. Regardless of your preference, experience or level of skill, I'd urge you to get involved as soon as possible.
Developer: Mika Mobile
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.2 or later.
Price: £1.79 - App Store