Features & Use
Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA is an add-on to the popular game Strategy & Tactics: WW II, made by HeroCraft Ltd. which I also find to be a great game. I wanted to see if the developer, with their new add-on, was able to deliver just as much quality gameplay as one can expect from this series.
To give you a brief overview of the story behind this application, meaning the original and the add-ons, the players in the first part find themselves in the roles of a general within the armed forces of the Allies and Axis. In the second part, the game took place in a fictive Third World War where the player controls both sides in a single player game.
Now in this new app, the USA and the USSR are the two superpowers and main rivals, having experienced a very tense relationship during the Cold War and a dropped atom bomb that detonated in Beijing is the final straw for this already on-edge situation. During the campaign, both sides of the line of war are now battling it out, thus staying true to the game principal of the original game.
Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA is strongly reminiscent of the game ‘Risk’, a strategy board game where you slowly try to conquer the rest of the world one country at a time, all of which are occupied already by the other players. I feel like the developer was able to capture the strengths of the original Android game, but didn’t fail to fix up a few of its weaknesses. You do, however, see the huge amount of effort that was put into the game every minute of the way. The various scenarios and the entire campaign was really well done and is complemented by animated video sequences of the fictional story every once in a while. It’s thanks to these elements that the add-on has reached the same levels as its predecessors.
The battle scenes and the entire gameplay are great. It’s easy to move troops around and make significant tactical decisions, especially in online rounds or in the hot seat mode with a friend, while playing on the same smartphone of course. Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA find its mains strengths in this area and each round was a blast and manages to absorb the player’s attention completely. The typical ‘Risk’ phenomenon has been improved in every detail as well as the scope of the technical possibilities since the last version.
Unfortunately, Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA isn’t completely as golden as it appears, and like its predecessors, there are a few points to criticize. Compared to the previous version, the new game has a whole new row of extra units. During the game, however, it’s not quite clear what the advantages and disadvantages of these units are. A simple rock-paper-scissors-type system is nowhere to be seen so the player needs to always play a guessing game or put trial-and-error to the test. This is particularly annoying when you are in a special part of the game and you don’t know what will happen next.
Unfortunately, due to the really demanding level of difficulty at which this game is set, players sometime need to resort to in-app purchasing to be able to get through. This high level is even a challenge for advanced players, like in battles where even the tiniest mistake is punished without mercy. This leads to frustration but also pushes the player to play a bit better. Thanks to the various facilitating options that you can buy, like the extra reinforcements or the discovery points, you can keep the ball in your court. The difficulty level is therefore no longer merely a challenge, but a push to buy extra bonuses and this situation only only gets worse due to the high in-app prices. 250 research points cost more than one euro. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but with this amount of points, the player is hardly helped.
Screen & Controls
I believe that the controls for Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA are well done, even though I don’t really like the small picture diagrams used to show the different unit options. All the controls operated smoothly and responded quickly.
The graphics combined with the soundtrack could be just a tad better, though the end result of it all looks quite good and reaches the level set by its predecessors.
Speed & Stability
Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA didn’t crash once during the game and there were no pesky lags.
Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA costs $1.49 US, which would have been a nice price if the in-app purchasing wasn’t there and the level of difficulty was brought down a little. As of tomorrow, the game will cost its full price again of $2.99.
Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA is a really well-made game and is able to motivate a player to keep on playing for a long time, especially thanks to multiplayer and hot seat mode. The high level of difficulty of the app is a major challenge, even though the ever-present possibility of in-app purchases is actually quite annoying.
The developer of Strategy & Tactics:USSR vs USA just needs to get rid of the complications caused by its various units and change the level of difficulty and the game would be much better. Nonetheless I have to rank them well, while removing the whole in-app purchasing aspect, in my mind, would get them a completely different mark.