Great Big War Game
Until Nintendo begins developing games for smartphones and tablets (an unlikely scenario), Rubicon Mobile's Great Big War Game is the closest you'll get to enjoying an Advance Wars style experience on iOS and Android. The sequel to Great Little War Game, this new title retains what made its predecessor so addictive, and ups the proverbial ante with a bigger single-player campaign and the biggest prize of all, local and cross-platform online multiplayer, wrapped within a superb $2.99 package. Not downloading it is damn near criminal.
If you played and loved Great Little War Game, much of Great Big War Game will feel instantly familiar, not in a boring "oh this again" way, but more like a comfy pair of slippers. You have two armies, red (the enemy) and blue (you), and a 50 mission campaign that tasks you with slaughtering as many bad guys as it takes to reach the assigned objective, whether that involves assassinating the opposing side's general, protecting HQ while destroying the red's, amassing a set number of gold coins or escorting a valuable person to safety, be it your general or a group of engineers.
With this in mind, and being that the game is turn-based, you're free to spend as much time as you want micromanaging the army by producing new and different types of units (snipers, grunts and bazooka men, among others) and mapping out the next plan of attack, even spending battle points to make useful upgrades. To that end, both you and the enemy engage in a gripping match of wits, as both sides do whatever it takes to be the victor, and believe us when we say Great Big War Game is a battle of inches, which is another reason why it's so good. Matches can last upwards of an hour against the A.I., depending on the size of the map, the objective(s) and fog of war (scouts clear this up quick). Now throw air and sea units into the mix, and it's a wonderful recipe for great strategic fun.
As we said, multiplayer found its way into Great Big War Game, and playing against another human definitely trumps the computer. Thing is, gameplay is asynchronous, which basically amounts to you taking a turn, then waiting for the other player to respond, which theoretically could take hours or days, sort of like Matching With Friends. This lessons the appeal for those seeking instant gratification. At the same time, this is how the game works, and our advice is to hook up with friends interested in completing matches quickly. Either that, or opt for Pass 'n Play, where you and a buddy wage war on a single device. Of course, if all hope is lost, just head back to the A.I.'s cold embrace with Skirmish, which lets you explore the game's 70 multiplayer maps with a gung-ho virtual adversary.
To get the most from Great Big War Game, you'll have to spend some more dough via in-app purchase. Currently, there are two map packs available, both of which retail for $1.99 and come with 20 maps apiece. There's also a War Chest pack with 15 maps for $1.99, and a $0.99 download that lets you build your own flag and select your army's color. Not expensive by any means, and to be fair, there's so much content in the main game that you don't have to spend another dime, outside of the $2.99 to buy GBWG.
As for flaws, of which, there are few, the game is prone to crash on occasion. In fact, you'll find disappointed players in both camps, iOS and Android alike. On the positive side, Rubicon takes an interest in its community, and will likely patch the issue(s) in the near future, if it hasn't already.
With this in mind, we can't recommend Great Big War Game enough. It's one of the deepest, most entertaining titles on the App Store and Google Play, with an untold number of hours to invest. And with the promise of future updates, this is simply the best overall value for your money. Kudos to Rubicon for creating such a feature-packed follow-up. We'll see you online.
Review code provided by Rubicon Mobile.
What's Hot: Superb strategic gameplay, 50-mission single-player campaign, offline and cross-platform online multiplayer with 70 maps, Skirmish mode, a variety of units (land, sea and air), humorous one-liners.
What's Not: The occasional crash, waiting for online opponents to respond, no cut scene voice acting.