Great Little War Game HD
The closest you'll get to playing Advance Wars on the iPad.
Rubicon Mobile's Great Little War Game HD is essentially Advance Wars for your iPhone or iPad. This 3D turn-based strategy App tasks you with defeating the enemy by maneuvering a variety of units around the battlefield, slaughtering evildoers and completing different objectives. The fact that some battles take an hour or longer to complete, coupled with the satisfying play, makes it a guilty pleasure, the type of game you'll happily get lost within for weeks, providing you can deal with a handful of issues.
Throughout the entire campaign, the primary goal remains the same: slaughter the red army at all costs. You'll do this by studying each map, identifying routes, the high ground and good places to take cover. From there, it's all about skillfully placing units and taking advantage of each warrior's unique strengths. Grunts are your standard soldiers, cheap to produce but among the most vulnerable. Snipers, meanwhile, can pick off bad guys from a distance, while Bazooka Men excel at taking out tanks and other vehicles. In addition, your soldiers can hop into a Jeep and quickly move around, and you have access to the same vehicles (re-supply trucks, anti-aircraft) as the enemy.
After you finish moving troops, the turn ends and you watch the computer do its thing. What ensues is a cool back and forth, as you match wits with the A.I. to not only destroy the other side, but also capture key points of interest (oil rigs, bases) while protecting your own. Other missions challenge you to protect your leader, the Generalissimo, escorting him to a safe location as enemy forces close in.
Overall, Great Little War Game's a ton of fun and proof that iOS can handle a more hardcore experience, but it has some problems, starting with iPad 2 support. The game either crashes or freezes, forcing you to restart by rebooting the device; on the positive side, we never lost progress from doing this.
On top of that, the voice acting constantly repeats and becomes so annoying that we killed the audio. The publisher offers a solution with language packs that add various accents (Redneck, British, French, Mexican), but they cost $0.99 a piece, a decision that makes Rubicon Mobile seem money hungry.
In addition, one of the reasons a mission takes so long is because you need to watch the computer move its units around the board, a process that could last several minutes depending on the number of dudes on screen. The designers let you speed things up, but it's still a lengthy process.
Finally, there's no multiplayer to speak of. A turn-based game like this demands a two-player mode.
That said, Great Little War Game HD is much better than a three out of five. We just couldn't award it a higher score knowing it crashes on iPad 2. If you can deal with that, or have the iPhone/older iPad, this App comes highly recommended.
[Editor's Note: According to Rubicon Mobile, the company is hard at work on version 1.2. We'll re-evaluate Great Little War Game HD after downloading the update when it becomes available. Also, there's a cheaper (albeit standard def) version for $0.99, but it's iPhone only.]
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch (3rd generation), iPod Touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
What's Hot: Plays almost exactly like Advance Wars, a variety of different units, lengthy battles.
What's Not: Annoying character voices, no multiplayer mode, crashes on iPad 2.