This game has awoken the Viking blood that is now coursing through my veins. I have a sudden urge to find a battle axe and pillage a nearby town!
Look out unsuspecting innocents, because Dutch-based developer, Romino Games, has dropped a sequel to their 2009 WiiWare hit. Enter, Swords & Soldiers 2, for Wii U, released May 21st.
Lets get this Old Norse show on the cobblestone road.
When I first read about the Swords & Soldiers games, I was intrigued by the genre they sat in. 2D Side-scrolling Real-Time Strategy. How does an RTS work when it’s not in an overheard view? How does unit and resource management work on a 2D pane? When will I be able to grow a lush red Viking beard?
The answers are as follows: Controls are very intuitive when controlling from a side-angle view. Unit management is automated in it’s movement, and resource management stays pretty much the same. Based on your current ability to grow facial hair? Never.
There are two “players” in each battle (1v1, or 1vCOM) and you’re pitted against each other and separated entirely by the map. In Single-Player mode, you generally play from the left side, and you’ll want to build towers/units that will make their way across the map, through the oncoming enemy units, and eventually to the opposing base on the other side.
You earn gold and mana throughout the match by sending units out to retrieve resources, or by building towers that can generate their own. You then use this gold to construct units that, when built, automatically set off on a path to the enemy.
There is a tactical element to the path your units can take though. In the image above, you can see a signpost on the right side of the screen. Although they walk automatically by themselves, you can influence paths they can take (one class even has the ability to create teleportation towers that can warp your units).
The hand-painted art style looks absolutely gorgeous. I mean, sure, you’ve got your group of rag-tag demons rolling on barrels, throwing spears at shirtless Vikings in kilts, but that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have to look great while it’s happening!
As a newcomer to the series, you’ll be able to appreciate the new frame-to-frame animations, but if you’re coming in from the original S&S… Well, this is what you’re coming from…
And this is what you’re getting now…
Don’t get me wrong, the single-player is fantastically fun, with a whole storyline (plus side quests to boot), but Swords & Soldiers 2 really shines when it’s you and a friend playing together.
I had my brother over, and I asked him to play with me. I figured I’d take it easy on him because I’d spent the week playing single-player and he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Boy was I wrong. The very first match, he decimated me. I was outraged, yet I was still having fun.
Since you’re playing an RTS, and you can only see so much on the screen, the multiplayer assigns one character to the GamePad (so they can view their own units/base/resources) and another to the TV. I played on the TV using the Pro Controller, though Wii Remotes and Classic Controllers should work just fine). This is one of the few RTS games that double as a couch multiplayer game (thanks to the unique GamePad of the Wii U).
Anyways, back to the games I was having with my brother. Second match, I decide that play time is over and I take the prestigious role of “Victor”. But then it becomes this back and forth of winning and losing. Playing as new factions and on different maps drastically change the outcome of each battle.
In the end, I lost more than I won (which goes to show you how easy it is to pick up), but it was fun and challenging.
You have three factions: Vikings, Persians, Demons.
Unfortunately, that’s it.
I absolutely love each of the factions, and they all play differently and balance out really nicely, but I’m just left wanting more. There’s a nice variety in the maps, and in the units under each faction (over 45 individual units in the game), but not enough factions.
The campaign is fun, and the characters and their stories are humourous to boot. Multiplayer can be a great way to spend an hour or so with a friend (unless they beat you all the time, because then they need to be asked to leave). All tightly packaged up in a solid Wii U eShop game for $20.
I wouldn’t quit call it a casual game, as there is quite a bit going on throughout the matches, and there’s tactical elements that need to be considered while playing. I will say that it’s certainly not for hardcore RTS fans, as it’s still rather simplified.
Fun game overall.
Now excuse me while I climb into my longship and sail with my Viking brothers! Now where did I set my horned helmet…
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in.
SupremeEvan is a fellow video game connoisseur (specializing in the Nintendo variety). He occasionally writes other articles and reviews that you can find here, and sometimes he tries to Twitter, at @EvanChambers.