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Swords & Soldiers 3D - 3DS Download Review

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Swords & Soldiers 3D

3DS Download | Ronimo Games / CIRCLE Entertainment | 1 Player | Out Now | $7.99 / £5.90
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4th June 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

When a vocal collaboration occurs between two artists in the music industry, it's usually because their styles mesh and will help the composition jive than it otherwise would if handled by just the one. But in some cases, this just ends up ruining a song. Thank goodness for YouTube, where you can find custom mixes or pre-release versions without the backing vocals or with the irksome portions chopped off. It ends up being a much better song for these alterations, making you ask why what could've been killer on its own merits was soiled in the way that it was.

    With Swords & Soldiers 3D, we don't need to make guesses as to what could've been. Beginning life as a WiiWare title, the original has since been developed for other platforms, with successive ports and remakes on PSN, PC and mobile platforms getting updates in the form of graphical boosts and the addition of online play. So with that level of market penetration and the exposure it received as an award-winning IP, it's not like a 3DS rendition was needed. Even so, this was an opportunity to extend portable play and friendly competition among friends, both of which the base game lends itself to. Or at least it should've been, in the hands of a capable team.

    Far be it for anyone to expect Swords & Soldiers 3D to be a remixed version of the original with new features in tow, what we were promised is a straight translation of the successful departure. But even that promise has gone on unfulfilled and without conscientious consideration. Anyone giddy about dispatching gold finders and the rest of the arsenal in a handheld, ready-made package should shield their eyes from this disastrous turn of events. Then again, it's not like Swords & Soldiers 3D will be coercing anyone into exploring its diseased hull.

As a fresh blend of tower defense and tower offense held together by real-time strategy, players follow the campaigns of three races -- Aztec, Viking and Chinese -- in their quests to expand their empires and claim or overtake territory as their own. Systematic gradations are in place to arm you with new units, while the missions become more demanding and the level layouts -- represented with companion, easy-to-follow timelines -- push for more focused unit generation and strategy through branching routes created for risks and tower stations for added safeguard measures.

    Each race has their own cast of soldiers and attacks, but the ruling factor is that resource management is according to two supply systems: Gold and Mana, respectively allowing for units and special attacks to be activated. The rate of intake can be accelerated in both cases -- more treasure retrievers for the former, level-ups for the latter -- and these provisions have a measure of permanence to them, with the caveat being that they suck up valued supplies. Contrast this with the transitory nature of the field fighters, which afford immediate, frontal support but only provide a substantial buffer when sent out in droves.

    Without delay, newcomers will observe the system to bear deep qualities even before reaching its fullest stage of growth, forming a multi-layered process that engages and challenges a possible need for orderliness. The dynamic is such that you have to balance between the hordes of units you put out, the frequency with which you do so, and whether or not you're better off buffing an existing unit or purchasing a new one to join the fray. It gets more complicated when opposing teams set up walls through the aforementioned tower stations, as this often requires a dedicated, all-out attack. Even so, the setup remains manageable and players (ordinarily) feel in close control of the situation regardless of how overwhelming battles can get, at times resulting in extended stalemates where little is accomplished because the strategies and forces launched are so evenly matched.

What's amazing about Swords & Soldiers 3D is that this pointed and engaging gameplay delivery is shrouded by the sharp, uncomfortable conditions plaguing the design mold. It speaks to a severe lack of responsibility on the team handling the port that the technical mishaps so greatly crowd out the formula's strengths in the heavier intervals and phases, most definitely representing a failure on their part.

    The interface, even while being closely readied after the original's organization, is clunky and at times lacking in responsiveness, upsets that impair the player's ability to rebut atmospheric changes with appropriate swiftness. Whether you're aiming to heal a unit, switch your viewpoint of the battlefield or trigger another manual action, borderline poor touch control implementation is to blame for the choppy player performance these issues instigate.

    In other ways, Swords & Soldiers 3D has an insatiable habit of provoking the player to behave in an unruly fashion over its technical behaviours, which often ask, "What is consistency?" Complications arising from the presentation and abysmal production values seep into the gameplay, drastically impacting the game's fluidity and the action. In principle, the game's landscape is already hard to look at if you've been treated to the stunning visuals existing on any other platform version -- an atmosphere that remains traceable even as the action reaches intense levels. But the low-res, blurry, hazy and sometimes even buggy depiction existing here conveys none of the atmosphere's strengths in its purest state, and the fluctuations in quality only amplify how trashy the port is.

    It's hard to believe how neglectful, nay careless, the team was in failing to address these glaring, consistency-defying concerns. And for someone who knows full well how the game is supposed to run at its full capacity, it's painful to see everything collapse the way that it does, to the point that it's not feasible whatsoever for anyone to withstand such a horrid display.

    Souring the experience that much more is the greatly missed opportunities of stat sharing and some form of interaction with friends on any plane. Just as I feared, it would evidently be too much of a demand to feature direct online play, but the lack of even local multiplayer is a surprise. The three challenge offerings could've been re-tooled to include leaderboards among registered friends, but apparently that was too much of a hassle as well.

    I refuse to believe Ronimo Games endorsed this. If they did, it was before they saw the end-product. Considering they've made no mention of this version, I'll take it as a sign that they don't want their name attached to it anymore than it has to be -- and for good reason. There's no getting around the fact that even if entering with the greatest apprehension, Swords & Soldiers 3D is an intolerable, horribly butchered rendition of a game that deserves so much better, and you can bet I'm holding CIRCLE Entertainment responsible for this. I strongly urge you to look for the game on any other platform but this one, otherwise your feelings on the game will shift radically. If you have in mind to reserve the team to a few lashes (a spanking would be too light, methinks), I'll pretend not to see anything.

11/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 5/10 - Bad translation, clunky setups that lack responsiveness, complications arising from presentation, worsens as battles overwhelm
Presentation 3/10 - Very shabby, visuals set in a poor resolution, lacks consistency, framerate disrupts, every facet affected by technical issues
Enjoyment 1/5 - Great frustration over failing to run at proper capacity, intolerable to work with, base strengths don't rise above drastic blunders
Extra Content 2/5 - Challenges and achievements present, multiplayer removed, no additional enhancements or features, terribly disappointing

Equivalent to a score of 37% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Swords & Soldiers 3D
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