RAD Soldiers (iOS) review

RAD Soldiers is a free-to-play iOS game from WarChest Limited and Splash Damage, the latter of which was previously responsible for the fun but commercially unsuccessful PC and console first-person shooter Brink. The new game is available now as a free download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of premium currency and expansion packs available.

RAD Soldiers is a turn-based strategy game in which players take a squad of (renamable) soldiers into battle and are tasked with either eliminating the enemy team or capturing and holding a specific area on the map for a set amount of time. Unlike many other similar games such as Robot Entertainment’s Hero Academy, RAD Soldiers offers both single-player challenge missions and asynchronous online multiplayer games, allowing even those who do not have iDevice-wielding friends to enjoy the game’s charms.

Controlling soldiers in a mission in RAD Soldiers makes use of a simple touch-based interface. Tapping on a squad member selects them and displays how far they are able to move in a single turn. Markers on the ground indicate whether or not a soldier will be able to fire from that location, and roughly how much damage they are likely to do. Tapping once on a destination tile shows the energy cost of moving to that tile — energy for each soldier is restored every turn — and also displays whether or not the tile is considered to be in cover. If so, any damage taken will be reduced as they use the cover to protect themselves. The map may be manipulated by pinching to zoom and twisting with two fingers to rotate — these standard iOS gestures are immediately intuitive, but the game reminds players of them nonetheless.

The single-player challenges consist of missions of gradually-increasing difficulty against computer-controlled opponents. Players may receive up to three medals — bronze, silver and gold — for completing each one, with better medals being acquired for achievements such as completing the mission quickly or without any casualties. Multiplayer, meanwhile, allows players to set up a game as they see fit and then invite friends using Facebook, email or the game’s proprietary WarChest account system. The game also supports Game Center, but this is used solely for tracking achievements rather than multiplayer matchmaking.

The game monetizes through two main avenues: hard currency sales, which may be used to purchase additional soldiers and weapons to add to the player’s team, or expansion packs, which carry additional challenge levels and new maps on which to battle. The game sidesteps becoming “pay to win” by using a points system for soldiers and weapons — the more powerful a soldier and weapon, the more points they are worth, and each multiplayer game or single-player challenge only allows players to take up to a certain number of points worth of each into battle. Most items can also be acquired with soft currency, which is earned at a good rate through normal play, with a variety of bonuses being offered for new players. Free hard currency is also offered in small quantities for Liking the game on Facebook, following on Twitter and adding it to Circles on Google+, and a free soldier is provided to users who provide their email address to link to their account.

RAD Soldiers is an excellent game. It is fun, simple to understand and full of tactical depth. A single turn takes a matter of seconds to play, and a full game is over within a relatively short number of turns in most cases, making it easy to fit around busy lifestyles. The game is completely satisfying in its free incarnation, with a wider variety of strategic options available to those willing to pay up and purchase some of the additional weapons or troops. The expansions offer good value for money and help keep the game fresh, too, and the public appears to have been responding well to the game, judging by the positive App Store reviews. While turn-based strategy titles are more niche interest than simple word games, it’s likely that a significant proportion of RAD Soldiers’ audience will stick with it for some time, as it’s unlikely that two games will ever be quite alike each other. The longer they stick with it, too, the more likely they will be to spend money on it — a number of App Store reviews make comments of this ilk, noting that they are more than happy to pay up for premium content to show their support for what is an excellent game that does not exploit its free players. This bodes well for the game’s future, at least in the short term

RAD Soldiers is currently ranked at No. 111 in Top Free Apps, No. 90 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 43 in Top Free Games and No. 42 in Top Free iPad Games. You can follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Play

An essential download for iOS players looking for a new asynchronous multiplayer strategy fix.

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