Emissary of War
Aggressive negotiations, with a barbarian.
We dig Cedar Hill Games' Emissary of War for what it is and also what it could become.
Created by former BioWare employee Tobyn Manthorpe, this action RPG casts you as Ghent, a well coiffed and smug barbarian charged with visiting different factions and convincing them to join the Dominion, even if it means using brute force to get the job done.
Negotiating treaties seems like an odd job for a bloodthirsty warrior, but the developer successfully pulled it off, with likeable heroes (including Ghent's clumsy assistant, Hassock), dastardly villains and humorous dialogue. Bottom line, you'll want to know what happens next.
The in-game controls, meanwhile, couldn't be simpler. You drag a finger along the iPhone and iPad screen to scan Ghent's surroundings, then tap a location to set him in motion, with Hassock in tow.
Combat is equally satisfying. Poke a rock scorpion, zombie or ogre, and Ghent immediately attacks it, during which time, you have the option of queuing health packs; you can do the same for Hassock with magic potions.
In addition, taking a certain amount of damage lets Ghent access a powerful Rage attack that damages nearby enemies.
Succeed, and you'll earn gold coins used to purchase new weapons, while magic runes upgrade his health, strength and attack speeds; you can even make Hassock stronger.
Unfortunately, it's common to lose Ghent amongst the throngs of bad guys, and he doesn't automatically attack the nearest enemy after vanquishing one, a design flaw that may ultimately result in death.
The biggest issue, though, is the game's length. You'll blow through the first chapter in 45 minutes or less, and the second (accessed via in-app purchase for $0.99) is equally short.
On the positive side, it's time well spent, and with more chapters presumably on the way, Emissary of War has even more potential. Worth a buck? Absolutely.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later.
What's Hot: Well-written story, enjoyable combat, user-friendly touch controls, works on first generation devices, first chapter is free.
What's Not: Too short, Ghent doesn't auto attack enemies after killing one, little reason to replay after beating it.