Wiiware classic Swords and Soldiers is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the service’s oft-meagre selection. Wiiware is, in the main, the burger of questionable origin from the guy in the dodgy van of video games. Generally, you’ll avoid it like a vigorous kissing on the lips from an elderly aunt. (With tongue. And rattling dentures. And, alas, moustache of Tom Selleck proportions. Great-aunt Muriel is getting horrendously hairy, I must concede. Soon, we’ll be able to set her up in a tent at the circus and charge admission.) Nevertheless, the burger from Nasty Nick’s Botulism Bistro that you bought while completely pissed sometimes won’t leave you with a seemingly lethal case of (if you’ll excuse the esoteric medical jargon) the shits. Similarly, and equally uncommonly, you’ll come across a title on Wiiware that isn’t an horrendous heap of horsecrap. Enter Swords and Soldiers, toon strategy title that effortlessly segues from logic and tactical nous to sheer balls-out hilarity and back on a moment-by-moment basis.
To begin, you select a nation (Viking, Aztec or Chinese) and are presented with a view centred upon their base. As per the RTS standard, you have only a couple of workers at this point, and must set about gathering resources and embellishing your prospects. The money afforded you by your gold miners allows you to unlock various upgrades, a different fighting unit or magic spell to help you achieve your egregious ends. You send out your army a single warrior at a time, whereupon they march across the two-dimensional plane toward the opposition’s base. You have no control over them once you’ve done so. (It’s a clockwork toy-esque mechanic. Wind them up, watch them steam in and stab someone in the balls with their sword. Ah, ultra-violent childhood memories.) As a result of the layout of the levels, an uber-shitstorm of mass destruction and catastrophic carnage unfolds in the centre between the two HQs. (I like to imagine a brief weapon-flailing bravado session, then the whole sorry affair playing out thusly:
“Well... you suck more!”
“Holy Balls! Such impertinence is patently unfounded! I was going to cordially invite you to the stunning garden party the Herbert-Smythes are throwing on Tuesday next, but you can forget it now. I may very well shit on your invitation, and post it anyway. Thuswise, our address will be obscured, and you’ll be unable to locate the house. Check, as they say, mate.”
Both armies then wander off home to masturbate.
But, as we know, Hollywood presents warfare as a very different monster. I did see something similar to this on the deleted scenes of Saving Private Ryan, though. Admittedly, I had been drinking.)
Alternatively, I could forego the tangential ramblings and cut to the concise explanation. Defeating the opponent’s forces and reaching their tower allows you to attack it. Reducing this to a mangled heap of shame and loose brickwork wins the round.
My favourite aspect of the game is how distinct the three factions are. The Viking soldiers are the sluggish, raw-power type of dudes. Not ones for subtlety, they charge in with catapults and huge angry bastards with body odour issues. The Aztecs takes a more insidious approach, with Necromancers to raise the dead into feeble-yet-numerous skeletal warriors and toxic spells to sap strength. Meanwhile, the Chinese prefer to bust out some ludicrous technology. Rocket-propelled projectiles and teleporting ninja monkeys abound. A remarkable sight indeed.
Swords and Soldiers is fantastic fun, and quite the substantial package for a budget download. Each nation has their own campaign, there’s an endlessly customizable skirmish mode, and challenges. These include the wonders of Berserker Run, where you follow a lone minion across a endless path. This is a frantic experience, healing him while unleashing humongous lightning bolts on the hordes he’s beset by. (Seemingly of the kind Zeus keeps up his ass to punish/burn someone’s balls with when they remark on the logical difficulty of having about eight million gods all at once. Those wacky ancients. There isn’t enough of that sacrificed bull to go around.
“There’s only a small squelching pile of bull testicle left.”
“Damn. Oh well, leave it for that unimportant guy... you know, the god of door handles or whichever one he is. I’m sure the poor bastard is used to getting the shit-encrusted end of the stick.”)
It’s a simultaneously nuanced yet accessible experience, which comes highly recommended.
Here's some footage, for your delectation:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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