Price: $2.99   Score: 9/10    Category: Games

The historical warriors highlighted on Macs, PCs and video game consoles found a new home on iOS. Welcome to Swords & Soldiers, a unique and absolutely addictive side-scrolling RTS available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

At first glance Swords and Soldiers doesn’t feel like much to gawk at. The cartoonish graphics and average feeling tutorial could lead some to judge this title a little too early, but give the game a level or two to swing into gear and get ready for mass addiction. Conquering the enemies in Swords and Soldiers requires true strategy and that’s where the fun floods in at full force.

The game starts with a barbecue loving Viking provoked into war against enemies advancing from the right side of the screen. As the lead Viking it’s your job to figure out how to conquer the enemy before they eliminate your Viking friends.

Doing this requires a careful balance between putting miners to work (so they can earn gold for operations) and employing warriors for the field while paying attention to mana points and upgrades.

Acquiring miners might accelerate the money you earn, for example, but if you don’t hurry into the upgrade menu and buy an upgraded warrior in time, the enemies of the moment could come trample your miners and destroy your team in no time.

Although every level requires a kind of careful strategic consideration, the interface itself is straight forward. Upgrades come from a menu button in the lower left hand corner while coin and mana counts show up in the upper left and right corners respectively. The ability to add new people or objects into the war effort takes place with a simple tap along the upper screen display menu where circles light up when you have the resources for them.

The screen itself focuses in on a dozen or so of men at any given time so you can zero in on the fulcrum points of war, but keeping track of the entire scope of the battlefield is as easy as glancing at the scrubber/scroller at the bottom of the screen that marks warriors’ positions on the field.

Overall Swords and Soldiers includes three worlds with three different war periods, each with their own unique strengths in battle. The Vikings, for example, win with sheer force while the Aztecs win with mind control and a command over mana points.

Although there is some story included in the mix, skipping through it is fairly easy (though I wish you could skip through it completely if you’ve already played a level and lost). The dialogue itself is somewhat funny but not brilliant, but the way the game changes is compelling.

Each of the 30 levels in Swords and Soldiers requires a different mission (e.g. trap four enemies or stay alive for five minutes), giving every level its own unique appeal. The result is a unique replay value that will keep you playing for hours on end.

Don’t judge Swords and Soldiers by its cartoonish animation style. This side-scroller packs as much substance as most $6 apps in the app store.

Bottom Line: The beloved multi-platform RTS Swords & Soldiers found itself another home on iOS and the execution is wonderfully addictive. If you like strategy, Swords and Soldiers is a must for your app arsenal.