Review: European War 3 for iOS

By Owen Faraday 16 Apr 2012 0
Maybe the writing isn't ace but the graphics are charming.

Outside of the World War I-themed castle defender Trenches, it's hard to think of any Great War-themed games on the App Store, so the appearance of European War 3 for iPhone and iPad is a welcome one. And from the screenshots and description, you'd be forgiven for thinking that European War 3 is a grand strategy game - another niche that is sorely under-served on mobile devices. European War 3 isn't exactly Hearts of Iron, though - it's really just a Risk-like with a fair amount of window dressing. That's not a bad thing in itself, but EW is a very simple war game.

You start the game's basic Empire mode with your choice of leading Great War-era Germany, Great Britain, or Russia on a war of European conquest. There's no diplomacy in EW3 - every nation on the map is a enemy. Holding certain map provinces gives you income which you can spend on building units and infrastructure or strategic cards that let you deploy special attacks like poison gas or airstrikes. Combat results are determined through Risk-style dice battles. There's nothing wrong with dice-based battle resolution but it does reveal how fundamentally thin EW3's mechanics are: the difference between artillery and infantry is just the number of dice they get to roll. Some units can move two spaces per turn while others can move just one, but that's about as differentiated as it gets. Even if there were more unit variety, the timid and unadventurous AI would probably have a hard time making use of it.

Another issue with European War 3 is the clarity of the game's writing. It seems cruel to knock the writing in a game whose developers clearly aren't native English speakers, but their patchy command of the language gets in the way of understanding some of the game's mechanics. The description of the tank formation, for example, mentions that the unit can "deal with trenches.. without losing any movement". There aren't any trenches evident in the game, so the player is left wondering if this is flavor text or an actual unit ability. The game's tutorial features a number of head-scratchers that made me wish the tutorial had a tutorial. This is ultimately not the biggest problem, as the game's relative simplicity makes it quick to master.

Let's try to keep this civil.

Other scenarios that ship with European War 3 include the distinctly un-European American Civil War and the Sino-Japanese War, with other scenarios unlockable for medal points. Medal points are earned (slowly) through playing or can be bought outright through IAP. Some players will chafe at being asked to invest money into a game they already paid to download but the amount of content included with the initial purchase is fairly generous so avoiding IAP entirely is quite possible.

All that said - it's impossible to truly dislike EW3. The game's art is absolutely lovely and does an excellent job of evoking the Great War setting, and looks quite nice in retina display. It's easy to knock Risk-like mechanics - but they're in common use for a reason: they make for a perfectly playable beer-and-pretzels wargame. The AI isn't exactly Clausewitz, but it's fun to beat, anyway.

European War 3 isn't a revolution, but it's a perfectly serviceable wargame for a platform that doesn't have enough of them.


3 out of 5







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