History buffs can rejoice at the arrival of a new outlet for exploring “The Good War.” In Fabrication Games’ World in War, a turn-based multiplayer online strategy game, players control armies in a World War II combat scenario. Playing as military strategists of Great Britain, USA, Soviet Union, or Germany, you must complete objectives (like invading your enemy’s territory) to win the war. This challenging strategy game (available for $2.99 in the App Store) stands out from others in its genre because of its simultaneous, “real-time” turn-based combat. Unfortunately, like many strategy games appearing on the mobile platform, World in War suffers due to the iPhone’s small screen size—it’s simply impossible to see the entirety of the map mid-battle. There are compelling strategy games on the iPhone, but this isn’t one of them.
To deploy your troops and move them on the battlefield, you simply tap the unit. Infantry, tanks, artillery and ships are available to you after building them in production centers, though they only vary in attack strength (not in abilities). Currency is produced from the territories you control. Regions near production centers (marked by a factory icon) provide the most income.
There are three modes in World in War (Single Battle, Multiplayer, or Campaign) with a computer AI serving as competition in Single Battle and Campaign modes. Here, you win by completing objectives such as invading a specific country or delaying the opposing force’s invasion for a set amount of time. Then you can purchase strategies like an air raid or paratroopers, and deploy them accordingly. This isn’t unlike most war themed strategy games, except that when playing online or in Single Player Mode, turns take place simultaneously. This means that both opponents (or in the case of Single Player Mode, the player and the computer) execute their strategies in real-time. This unique feature is beneficial in that it eliminates delays in the action and often results in a sort of cat and mouse game with your opponent, but can also mean players are attacking areas that have recently been vacanted.
The World War II era maps look clean and the different terrorities are color-coded based on who owns the space—providing a crisp view that gives a comprehensive look at who’s in the lead. A collapsible tool bar is on the right hand side of the screen contains the “end turn” button and objective list, among others. The maps are littered with production centers, so you’ll have no trouble building up an army quickly.
Because of the coinciding turns in World in War, after each round, the game shows a replay of the action. I found this to be a bit superfluous… I usually skipped over them and planned my strategies based on what the map looked like at the start of each turn. The map itself was also troublesome, despite its clean aesthetic. It’s too small to view on the iPhone screen, and you have to zoom in to make moves… I never felt as though I had a sense of the whole map when I was invading. While I haven’t had a chance to play yet, I suspect the game’s experience is far more enjoyable on the iPad ($6.99).
World in War certainly has a different feel than any strategy game I’ve played, but I never really got the hang of the pacing. Plus, I suspect that all the time I spent zooming in and out on the map ultimately cancelled out any time saved by the simultaneous turns. For stiff competition in a strategy game, World in War brings the heat, but it’s lack of ability to clue me in to the entire game map makes me hesitant to play it again.
[Stephanie Kent is an editorial intern for Macworld.]