Might & Magic Clash of Heroes Review (iOS)
The Might and Magic series has been running since 1986, but Clash of Heroes is really regarded as a spin off to the main series. The franchise, primarily RPG’s, has seen a few reboots, spin off’s and changes of ownership in its time. Clash of Heroes, originally released on the DS in 2009/10, took a departure from the main series in terms of gameplay, but was still perhaps closer to the Heroes of Might and Magic games with its turn based strategy elements. The game was received very well and Capybara Games later released their little gem on PS3, 360 and PC. The Heroes now advance their armies on iOS!
Those who have played any of the previous iterations of this game or read the previous CDT review will perhaps see a lot of re-covered ground but bare with me, I will get to the differences and iOS portability later in the review. For now I guess we had best give an overview to the game and how it plays.
Two or three years ago I stumbled upon this game while downloading random demo’s off PSN and instantly fell in love with it. I’m a sucker for turn-based strategy games and the fantasy elements and brilliant character/troop designs pulled me right in. Some may fault the simple graphics and art style but I for one think it’s great. It gives a nice light-hearted tone to the game.
Clash of Heroes is in a nutshell a turn-based, grid-based strategy game. To simply define it as such really doesn’t do it an justice however. It’s a game that manages to be delightfully simple in mechanics while still allowing a huge range of strategies through troop selection, in-game turn choices, special character abilities and artefacts chosen to boost your troops or hinder your opponents. Ultimately though, it’s down to how you put your troops to work. So how does that work?
First you pick your troops prior to battle. Each faction (elves, undead, demon etc) has two characters to choose from, their only difference being their special ability. Each faction has access to three core troops and can select up to three of any combination. You then have two extra slots in which to fill with either elite or champion troops. These are the hard hitters which will more often than not win you a match.
Your troops are arranged randomly on the grid and you are given a number of turns each round to move them about. If you arrange three core troops of the same type and colour in a vertical line then they will combine and attack the enemy in a set number of turns (typically two or three for core troops). Arrange those core troops in a horizontal line however then they will form a defensive wall to protect you. Elite and champion troops work a little different. Elites take up two grid spaces on the board, unlike cores who only take up one. In order to charge an elite troop you have to place two core troops of the same colour behind it. Champions take up four spaces and require four core troops to charge. Confused much? It can be a little difficult to understand without seeing it in action but once you play a few turns it’s incredibly simple and intuitive.
Each player has a health bar which the aim of the game is to damage and reduce to zero. The troops at your command are used to do this but must get through the enemies defences and troops to do so. As you learn the game you will find yourself having to choose between whether to go all out on attack or turn your troops into walls for defence. Failing to deal with an enemy champion in time will result in certain death. Unopposed, their damage is often enough to wipe out your health completely. So to combat them you must either wall up and try to reduce their health through attacking, or throw your own troops in the way as sacrifice.
The tactical choices in this game are mouthwatering. Even to this day, after hundreds upon hundreds of games, I still come up with new strategies. And each game you play will still be completely different to the last as the way the troops randomly appear on the board and are brought back on in reinforcements means that you will be forced into different moves each turn. The wide range of artefacts can also be game-changing, and certain ones will force you to completely rethink any strategy you had before. They can range from anything between giving you an extra turn, causing more damage through certain attacks, decrease your enemies wall strength or upping the special abilities of specific units. This can at times add a little imbalance to the game and as such some players choose to play with them turned off in mutiplayer. For example, almost every one of the undead factions artefacts completely dick on the other player (e.g. the one the makes them lose 2 health every turn!).
So what does this game bring to iOS and what does mobile touch screen gaming bring to the game? In general it brings everything from the previous versions including a neat pass and play option, so you still get those all important local games. At £2.99 you’re certainly getting your moneys worth.
I played it on 3GS which arguably is not the best iOS platform to play it on. If you have an iPad then this game will be a must buy for any lover of strategy games. However on a smaller screen the game suffers slightly. The display feels squashed and despite having the an option to zoom in it really doesn’t do the game any favours as you then can’t see the enemies troops. The major problem I have with this port however is the major slow down which I experienced when playing it. This could be an issue with the 3GS or just due to some other issue with my own one but it is certainly a problem I could not ignore. Looking about the net it doesn’t seem to be too prevalent an issue but it might be something to bare in mind if you’re thinking about getting it for earlier iPhone models.
Touch screen controls might at first seem like a great addition to the game but I have to say they are not. You can either tap a troop to pick them up and tap a column to drop them back down, or you can just drag and drop in one movement. However this can often lead to accidentally dropping the troop in the wrong column, especially if you are trying to do it quickly. For a strategy game where every move counts this is not a good thing to happen.
Special care has been taken to prevent mistakes in troop deletion though. In the PS3/360 versions you would move the cursor to a troop and press circle or B to delete. In this version though you can tap a troop to highlight them but you have to press and hold for a second or two to bring up the option to delete. This might add a few seconds on to the action time but it’s a very small price to pay for a neat wee feature. The highlighted troop will also enlarge slightly and wobble from side to side to clearly show which troop has been selected for deletion. Although a relatively simple preventative feature it really feels like extra care has gone into this addition and I have to tip my hat to the developers for it. Other features include triple-tapping to bring up unit stats and pinching to zoom in or out.
My favourite feature of this port however is one that many people will be divided on. And that is the issue of in-game transactions. Factions and their units can be purchased as opposed to unlocking them through campaign mode. These kind of purchases enrage some, but at the measly price of £0.69 per faction or the whole lot for £1.99 I really can’t complain. The campaign is fun to play through and it’s puzzle battles in particular are great training but if you’ve played through the game before on other platforms then it will be a pain to go through it all again in order to unlock everything. Especially if you want to just jump straight into some online battles.
Overall I think this is a decent platform addition to the series and I’m glad of the extra exposure it may bring as this truly is one of my highest rated games ever. It’s also coming to android making it available for just about everything. A nice Vita port would be nice too.
8 Clashing, Mighty and Magical Heroes out of 10