| Mecho Wars
Peer through the scaffolding of any highrise undergoing construction and you can discern the strength of the structure. Even when a building is far from complete, it's easy to see quality in the works.
Mecho Wars is like gawking at some incomplete tower jutting onto the horizon, its creative potential tucked within a maze of struts and supporting beams.
Commanding wonderfully bizarre units on land, air, and in the seas, Mecho Wars chronicles the war between the terrestrial Landian race and ornate Winged Crusade. Startling advances by invading Landian forces prompt you to lead the Winged Crusade in a daring counteroffensive.
A single player campaign spanning more than a dozen missions follows hour-by-hour the effort to root out the Landian aggressors.
Missions play out in turns, each hour of the day serving as a turn. During a turn, you're able to move units about the map, attack enemies, and capture buildings. Units are commissioned from bases using cash accumulated at the beginning of every turn based on the number of cities under your control. The maximum number of units you're allowed to build is reliant upon how many bases you possess: for each seized, the cap is raised by two.
The units themselves are unique by design, though they stick to convention when it comes to combat abilities. Heavy units hold superiority over infantry, which themselves have an upper arm against flying forces. There are specific qualities that have been borrowed from other turn-based games as well, such as infantry being the only units capable of capturing buildings and long range cannons possessing vulnerability to direct attacks.
Visually, little signifies the difference between a tank-like, direct-attacking Elpho and a short range assault Mage that has a similar look. Pronounced visual cues highlighting these distinctions would help.
Mecho Wars goes well beyond drafting interesting units in its creative interpretation of turn-based strategy. Invention abounds. The hour-by-hour structure of play, for instance, has a direct impact on the condition of the map.
During each turn, the environment has a chance to act after you and your opponent have taken turns. From the hours of 12:00a to 5:00a, water freezes to allow safe passage of ground units over rivers and oceans. This has a dramatic impact and fundamentally changes the nature of play in a unique way.
Other elements set the game apart, such as the inability to recoup lost hit points by situating a unit on a base. Only infantry can restore health using special cacti, not controlled structures. This initial annoyance actually forces you to be mindful about rushing units into battle without a clear strategy: in other words, it causes you to contrive a plan instead of just chucking units at the enemy.
This brilliant breed of tactical gameplay unfortunately butts up against a glaring lack of features. Multiplayer comes only in the form of pass-and-play on a single device. Support for local multiplayer battles on two devices (either Bluetooth or wi-fi) is oddly omitted as well.
An option for online play, which has been promised in a future free update, unfairly taunts from the multiplayer menu. Releasing the game with the mode in the menu is unacceptable: it makes the game appear conspicuously incomplete.
A slew of other minor improvements and additions can be made to bring Mecho Wars up to speed with rival titles. Additional multiplayer maps, a map editor, the introduction of hero units and special powers, and even a ranking system for judging your performance would give the game greater dimension.Mecho Wars furnishes the foundation of a creative strategy game but needs more content and polish to reach its full potential. Once the gaps have been filled with updates and the scaffolding can be cleared away, then this inventive game will live up to its promise.