Swords & Soldiers
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-10-19 PS3 Action E10 (Everyone 10+) Ronimo Games / Sony Online Entertainment

Swords and Soldiers from Sony Online Entertainment has been proven to be an interesting, creative and fun title for the Nintendo Wii via WiiWare, but does this side-scrolling action game hold up on the transfer to PSN?

In Swords and Soldiers, you play as a crazy selection of characters (Viking, Aztec or Chinese varieties available) set on finding various items such as chili peppers and treasure, among other things. At the beginning, you'll only be able to select from Viking characters, with the other two varieties becoming unlocked after you complete the viking campaign.

The gameplay is set up much like other real-time strategy games much like Warcraft or Starcraft (only in two-dimensions rather than three), in that you must harvest resources (in this case, gold) and use that gold to build buildings, as well as an army to defend yourself against various foes that inhabit the worlds you invade. Various types of warriors are available including a standard melee character, axe-throwers and fast, weaker warriors as well.

You'll need to use the abilities that these different warrior types come equipped with to your advantage.

If you kill all of the nearby enemies (when looking at the gameplay area as a progression from left to right), you can use the faster warriors to more easily reach the enemy reinforcements without allowing them to reach your "home turf", as it were, and you can use the stronger enemies en masse to take out equally strong opponents, like those that bash the ground, impacting multiple units, or those that can cut through your catapult defenses (if you've chosen to build some, that is) like butter.

As you play through the initial campaign (which is level-based), and after you beat it, you will then have access to a variety of other game modes or types.

Not only will you eventually unlock the aforementioned Aztec and Chinese campaigns, but you'll also be able to tackle the single-player Skirmish mode, which is a versus scenario placing you one on one against an enemy army controlled by a customizable (in terms of difficulty) AI player.

Three single-player Challenges are also available. The first is Survival, which has you surviving for as long as possible against a never-ending supply of enemy units. Berzerker Run has "Arnie the Berzerker" running for his life, with the goal being to help Arnie advance as far as possible over time. Finally, Boulder mode is unlocked after defeating the campaign, and allows you to roll large boulders into the advancing enemy forces. In addition to this, both local and online multiplayer are available for those that want to take the fight to a real-world opponent, either in your living room or elsewhere.

Technically, Swords & Soldiers has a charming graphical design. The cartoon theme is represented well in the skewed character models and in the sometimes outlandish level designs. It's mostly a bright and colorful landscape, that contains gameplay both at day and at night, allowing for a different feel when your battleground is covered in darkness but your opponents continue to advance.

The soundtrack performs equally well, with loud grunting voices screaming "Upgrade completed!" or "I love gold!". There is no real voice-acting other than this, however, as the story plays out through text bubbles both before and after each level.

As you would expect, Swords & Soldiers starts as a fairly simple (and therefore easy) gameplay experience, but becomes much more challenging over time, requiring true strategy in order to survive. The game is a clever take on the genre that works well to initiate the unfamiliar, but still offers enough challenge to satisfy those with more experience. For $9.99, both the amount of content, and the overall quality therein make this one well worth the purchase.

Special thanks to SOE and Jordan Fraser for providing a copy of this title.