HandyGames pulled off the impressive feat of re-energising the tower defence genre with its cowboy-themed Guns‘n’Glory, a game that revelled in the black comedy of controlling outlaws picking off wagonfuls of helpless pioneers.
Now the sequel has saddled up, galloped out of the wild west, and ended up in the Western Front battlefields of WWII.
It’s a mostly successful journey, with the the setting proving a perfect match for the game’s blend of tower defence and real-time unit movement. But the move to a freemium payment model is less convincing.Death or glory
Taking place at the tail end of WWII, the action is loosely based on the 1944 Ardennes conflict between the Axis (boo!) and the Allies (yay!).
You can play as either side in Guns'n'Glory WW2, but the maps and gameplay remain largely unchanged - beyond adding a different colour scheme and a few ‘zes’ to the German troops' voices.
A brief but invaluable tutorial teaches you the basics of combat, and soon the training wheels are off the tanks and you’re in the thick of combat, tasked with defending bases across a dozen different maps.
Eschewing the tiny sprites of the first game, the four locations and different units take a lot of cues from Nintendo’s hallowed Advance Wars series. Everything, from the fearless soldiers to the trundling tanks, has a chunky, cheerful look that takes the edge of the more serious setting.Trooping about
Rather than letting you place and upgrade towers in the vein of Fieldrunners, Guns‘n’Glory WW2 demands a more hands-on approach.
Each of the four units (from simple riflemen and bazooka firers to wild-eyed flamethrower carriers and hefty tanks, with alternates like grenadiers for the Axis) needs to be manually moved about the maps to cover entry points or protect bases.
Missions, which must be unlocked in turn, begin with a set number of units to deploy, but after that you need to collect coins dropped by enemy units to pay for new recruits to bolster your forces.
Units are selected by tapping on them and then tapping again on the exact spot you want them to defend. With enemies attacking in waves from numerous points, marked by red arrows, there’s a constant pressure to redeploy soldiers where they’re needed most.
It’s an elegant way of making you feel directly more involved in the action, with the downtime between waves being filled with anxious military manoeuvres, and it works beautifully on Easy mode.
However, once you start to fend off bigger and more persistent waves in Normal and Hard, you’ll start cursing the bizarre fact that you can only move one soldier at a time. Multiple, RTS-style, unit selection would surely be far more efficient and less of a struggle once levels are crowded with troops.The price of free-dom
Another chink in the armour is the freemium focus this time around.
The option to pay to ‘remove ads’ is currently disabled - meaning a large chunk of the screen is taken up by an obtrusive, distracting banner - and the Glory Coins used to spend on upgrading your units between rounds are pretty pricey.
Yes, you can earn these during battle, but you’d need to grind back through a lot of the game to earn enough to stand a chance of survival in Hard mode.
This definitely takes some of the shine off the Guns'n'Glory WW2's fun core gameplay, but there’s still enough here to satisfy Android strategy nuts.